At the start of the war in Syria, Hussein, 72, and his family left their home to take refuge in Jordan. In the last few years, both Hussein and his wife have developed disabling medical conditions and the family has struggled to pay their medical bills as they lost all of their possessions and have no health insurance.
Hussein has arthritis in his knee which impedes his movements and causes serious pain. "Since the onset of my arthritis, there are lots of things I can no longer do,” says Hussein. “I cannot kneel to pray, I cannot walk very far, and it is difficult for me to go the shopping as I struggle to lift things."
Hussein’s wife has a heart condition, and can no longer stand, so the couple is entirely dependent on their adult son.
"Money is our biggest problem,” says Hussein. “We no longer own a house, so we have to pay rent, and the medical expenses quickly mount up.”
Recently, Humanity & Inclusion has stepped up to help cover the cost of their medical care. Hussein has been able to attend physical therapy sessions at a hospital that partners with HI. His condition has improved as he has progressed with his PT, and he now finds it easier to walk. Life is still hard for the family, but thanks to our donors, the family’s burden is a little bit lighter.
Several years ago, during the war in Syria, Ibrahim, a construction worker, heard gunfire nearby. He ran away in the opposite direction, right into the path of an oncoming bomb. Fragments from the bomb explosion tore into his leg. He was transferred to a hospital across the border in Jordan, where is leg had to be amputated. Later, Humanity & Inclusion fitted him for a prosthetic leg.
“The prosthesis has become part of me,” says Ibrahim, who is now using his seventh prosthesis. “When something breaks, I've learned how to replace the broken part with a spare from my old prostheses. The only part I can't replace is the silicone section. If that breaks, I contact HI.”
Ibrahim has had several surgeries on his leg, and each time he needs to be fitted for a new prosthesis. “I like how staff check on me on a regular basis and provide proper follow-up for the maintenance of each new leg.”
Since moving to Jordan, Ibrahim met his wife and they now have two sons. "When I was on my own, it didn't matter to me that I had lost my leg,” says Ibrahim. “But my marriage has changed that.”
Trying to provide for his family has been a challenge, especially since he can’t work in construction due to his disability. He works six days a week in a shop, but the wages are very low. Despite working 12-hour days, Ibrahim struggles to cover the family’s expenses.
“It isn’t easy to find a good job,” says Ibrahim. “When employers see that you only have one leg, they don’t want to hire you.”
A study, carried out by HI and iMMAP, found that one in five Syrian refugees has a disability, and much more needs to be done to connect refugees with disabilities to humanitarian services. You can read the full reports from Jordan and Lebanon.
Zyad was an athlete in Syria. Then war came and a bomb destroyed his right leg below the knee. Now, the father of three, a refugee in Irbid, Jordan, can barely stand.
The day we met him in Jordan, he couldn’t leave his home. On days like this, Zyad sits in the same position—any movement triggers unbearable pain. Simple, everyday tasks like washing dishes are extremely difficult. He can no longer walk and has to take taxis everywhere—a cost his family cannot bear after losing their home and land in Syria.
No work, no income
Without Zyad’s income, the family struggles to make ends meet. His wife balances caring for her family with work. She provides day-to-day care for Zyad as well as her youngest daughter, who has asthma and tissue damage to her hand from the bombing. The rest of the time she cleans schools to earn money. Her two older sons go from one menial job to another.
Support from Humanity & Inclusion
A few months ago, Humanity & Inclusion volunteers were visiting Zyad’s neighborhood to identify people with disabilities who needed support. The team was also surveying Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon about the barriers they face in accessing humanitarian aid.
The registered Zyad with the local hospital, where a doctor first suspected that he might have still have bomb fragments in his knee. An x-ray showed a different culprit: arthritis. The cartilage of his knee joint is significantly degraded, causing him great pain.
The doctor prescribed physical therapy sessions—all free (even the transport to the sessions) thanks to donors. The therapy some relief, and he was able to walk on crutches. However, his condition is degenerative, and pain is never far from the surface.
Helping people with disabilities
Zyad has begun informing other people with disabilities about Humanity & Inclusion's work. Today, he’s the organization’s point of contact for identifying and registering people with disabilities in his neighborhood.
The study carried out by Humanity & Inclusion
A study, carried out by Humanity & Inclusion and iMMAP, found that one in five Syrian refugees has a disability, and much more needs to be done to connect refugees with disabilities to humanitarian services. You can read the full reports from Jordan and Lebanon.
Dedicated to improving the lives of young children with disabilities and developmental delays, Humanity & Inclusion teams go door to door in cities and towns in northern Jordan to find children who are not receiving adequate care and support.
Since July 2017, thanks in part to support from the Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation, staff have identified more than 450 children with disabilities, like two-year-old Safaa, and connected them with rehabilitation centers and other services.
Before meeting Humanity & Inclusion, Safaa, who has cerebral palsy, was unable to walk. "I used to have to carry her everywhere,” Safaa’s mother says. “Today she can walk, and I feel much better now that her situation has improved.”
Safaa works with a physical therapist and speech therapist regularly. Through Humanity & Inclusion, Safaa’s mother met another mother whose children with cerebral palsy have been able to start school. This made her more hopeful about the future.
“I’d like Safaa to attend school, too,” she says. “The therapists say she’ll probably be able to go one day.”
Download the Report:
Older, disabled, and injured Syrian refugees are being doubly victimized as a result of the Syria conflict, according to a new report by Humanity & Inclusion and HelpAge International. The new data show that these vulnerable individuals, as well as those suffering from chronic diseases, are being left in the shadows of the humanitarian responses.Sign up
Download the Report:
With support from the Australian Government, this study was carried out between October 2017 and January 2018, in areas with high concentrations of Syrian refugees including the Azraq and Zaatari refugee camps and Irbid. We reached 1,159 households including 6,381 people in Jordan.Sign up
"Working with children is my passion,” says Sina, an occupational therapist at the Basma Hospital Rehabilitation Center in Irbid, Jordan. Since Humanity & Inclusion opened a pediatric unit at the center, Sina has been dedicated to working with children with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects movement and coordination and impacts as many as four out of every 1,000 children worldwide.
“My role is to help the children gain upper body strength and fine motor skills so they can perform tasks like feeding themselves,” says Sina. “The goal is for the child to develop a level of autonomy.”
In the last two years, numerous changes have been made at the center to improve patient care. "HI has encouraged occupational and physical therapists to work as a team,” says Sina. “For example, the physical therapists teach the children to walk, while occupational therapists like me help them to use their hands to play. The child has fun and the benefits are multiplied. It's good for us and for them.”
HI also provides the staff with onsite training. In the past, they had to travel to Jordan’s capital, Amman, in order to learn new skills. "We already had one training session about rehabilitation techniques for children with cerebral palsy and the next one will focus on the use of splints,” says Sina. “HI has provided us with all the materials and equipment required. The equipment is very expensive, but is a crucial part of our work and previously we had nothing like it. As we learn new techniques and master the equipment, we can offer our services to a broader group of patients. Being able to help people we couldn’t support before is additional source of motivation and makes me feel more confident.”
Humanity & Inclusion recently helped open a new pediatric unit at the Basma Hospital Rehabilitation Center in Irbid, Jordan. The unit was created to offer specialized treatment to children living with neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy.
"Before, we worked with children and adults in the same area and it was difficult for the children to focus on their exercises,” says HI-trained Physical Therapist Esra. “Here in this new child-friendly space, we can play with them. They do their exercises while playing and don't even realize that it's part of their treatment.”
The number of patients has been increasing steadily since the space was set up. The unit is currently supporting more than 80 children with neurological disorders, with about five or six children attending rehabilitation sessions every day.
The teams involve family members in their child's treatment. Parents learn how to perform rehabilitation exercises with their children at home so they can make improvements between sessions. Most of the children are growing stronger, and some have even learned to walk since beginning rehabilitation.
HI is also providing continuing education to the hospital’s occupational and physical therapists to further improve the quality of their care. "I recently took an HI course focusing on special methods for treating children with cerebral palsy, and I now use those methods every day,” says Esra. In addition, HI set up a small medical library with computers, so staff can perform research related to their patients’ cases.
More than 60% of Syrian refugee households include a person with disability, and 1/5 of refugees in Lebanon and Jordan have a disability, according to a new study by HI and iMMAP. The survey ran from 2017-2018, and so far has resulted in two reports, four fact sheets and a Data Dashboard that provide statistical figures on people with disabilities among Syrian refugees and their access to humanitarian aid.