Salam from Syria smiles after receiving physical therapy from Handicap International in Jordan

Victim of a war she doesn’t understand

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We became Humanity & Inclusion on 1/24/2018

One of Handicap International's youngest beneficiaries in Jordan is seven-year-old Salam. Now home from a six-month stay in a hospital, after suffering a serious injury to her leg in Syria, Handicap International's mobile team visits her regularly. 

Her uncle, Ali, tells us about the day he met Salam in 2015. “I received a call,” Ali explains. “The person on the other end said that one of my relatives had been rushed to Ramtha hospital in northern Jordan, and was seriously injured.”

Ali wasn’t sure who it was or why they were there, but he acted quickly. When he and his wife arrived at the hospital, they were taken to Salam's room.

“I’d never met Salam, because she was the daughter of one of my wife’s distant cousins.” Although this was the first time meeting Salam, seeing her unconscious in her hospital bed was difficult for them. After all, she was family.

Surgeons amputated Salam’s left leg and part of her right foot. “I couldn’t understand how an innocent child could lose a leg in a war she didn’t even understand,” Ali said.

On the day of the accident, Ali explains, Salam and her family went to pick olives. She and her little brother were playing in a field when Salam bent down and picked up an unexploded remnant of war. “She was too young to know it was dangerous.”

The bomb exploded. People who heard the explosion ran to help, but it was too late for her little brother. Shrapnel hit his heart and he died instantly.

Salam was badly injured. She was taken to the hospital in Jordan before her parents had time to go with her. They knew Ali and his wife lived there and that Salam would be safe with them. So they decided to stay in Syria.

Every day, for six months, Ali and his wife visited Salam in the hospital and oversaw her recovery. It was there, in the hospital, that Salam first met staff from Handicap International. Ali explains, “Handicap International fit her with a prosthesis and provided her with physical therapy. If Salam went back to Syria, she wouldn’t have been able to benefit from rehabilitation sessions and her prosthesis would not have been changed regularly. Her parents live in a besieged area and there are no health services available for people like her.”  

Ali watches Salam affectionately as she plays next to him. “I had sons when she came into our life, but no daughters. For me, her arrival is a blessing. I’ve always wanted a daughter. Salam is so cheerful and really intelligent. Next year, we’ll send her to school and I hope she’ll have a bright future.” Salam lifts her head and adds with a smile: “I want to be a cook when I grow up!”