The Syrian crisis caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, poverty, and a worsening socio-economic situation. In Syria, 28% of the total population aged two and above live with a form of disability.
“There’s a huge need when it comes to disability in Syria. The number of disabled persons spiked since 2011, when the crisis began, because of bullets, missiles, mines, and explosives. Other disabilities are caused by neglect, malnutrition and lack of health care including not getting the necessary vaccines. Sometimes not getting the needed medical attention can worsen a simple issue and make it a permanent disability.” Jihad said.
Jihad Al-Natour is a Disability Officer who has been working with Medair since the beginning of the programme in 2015. Jihad also works as a certified physiotherapist.
“Sometimes we’re faced with resistance from the people we assist. For example, in one case, I advise a person can move with a walker and some help from the caregivers. However, the person resists and insists they cannot walk at all and prefers a wheelchair. This can make their condition worse and lead to full disability.” Jihad said.
“Sometimes the mental barrier is stronger than the physical disability. We encountered people who have given up on hope a long time ago and it’s hard to revive their faith in themselves and their ability to improve their conditions.”
In Homs, we joined Jihad during his visit to people Medair assisted with mobility devices earlier in 2022.
“She was healthy last year. Then suddenly she suffered a stroke. As a result, she’s now unable to communicate or walk.” Halima’s father, Mohammad, told us.
Halima is married and has a son. Her family takes care of her and have been trying to get her to walk, but she was losing hope.
Jihad and Halima’s brother held her and encouraged her to use the new wheeled walker. At first, Halima’s eyes were filled with doubt, and she wasn’t convinced this will help her walk. Then she took her first step forward. Determined, she took five steps before she got tired, a significant achievement.
Batool is a 10-year-old and was born with paralysis. Her legs are malformed which prevents her from walking and so she relies on crawling to move around, or her mother has to carry her from one place to the other. Medair provided Batool with a wheelchair specifically for her condition, to help her move easily.
“She’s a smart child. As you see on the wall, she and her sister are very passionate about drawing.” Batool’s mother, Aysha, told us.
“I want the world to see Batool for who she truly is, a happy child with big ambitions.” Aysha said.
Amna is 65-year-old. She takes care of her granddaughters Amna, named after her grandmother, and Marwa.
“As you can see, walking is a pain for me, even sleeping can be hurtful sometimes. I have to take a bunch of medication to ease the pain of my joints.” Amna told Jihad.
“We live together in this room and I’m the caregiver of these two little girls, so I need to be strong to provide for them.” Amna said.
Medair provided Amna with a walker, disability toilet seat, and a bed.
As a part of its health activities, Medair focuses on people living with mobility impairment. Each year, about 300 people living with mobility impairment (PLWMI) benefit directly from Medair’s assistance in Syria.
Additionally, in Medair’s other programming, Medair makes sure that people living with a disability are thought of; For example, making sure when rehabilitating a clinic to provide the entrance with ramps for wheelchairs. When rehabilitating homes, bathrooms are equipped with disability-friendly toilet seats, and the staircase with grips for protection.
“Medair Syria is striving to increase the support for more projects that help PLWMI regain their dignity and have a decent way of life”, said Dr Vlad Chaddad, Medair Syria’s Health and Nutrition Advisor.
In Syria, Medair’s work is made possible by the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), Swiss Solidarity, SlovakAid and generous private donors like you.
This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organization.