Fleeing violence in Syria: 8 years as a refugee in a wheelchair
25- year-old Osama was living in a nice house with his family in the south of Syria until 2012, when his neighbourhood was bombed. His 13-year old little brother died and the family had to flee. A missile fragment entered his 12th vertebra, leaving him paralysed from the waist down.
Osama fled Syria in 2012 and now lives in Jordan with his mother and his little sister. His father passed away in 2017. The family mainly depends on humanitarian assistance. Osama is paralysed and his legs still ache terribly.
Fleeing the violence
Osama first arrived in Jordan with his mother in 2012. As an emergency case, he was taken to a hospital situated in the north of the country. He stayed in Zaatari camp for the first 10 days.
He remained hospitalized for one month after undergoing surgery. Once his physical condition settled, the family moved into a small, two bedroom apartment for a year in West Irbid.
Leaving everything behind
Osama's mother only had one dress that she was wearing when she arrived in Jordan, and Osama had one small bag of clothes. At first, they received help from their neighbours. They received donations of clothes, a heater and food.
Osama laid on his bed for a whole year, refusing to accept his new condition. He then started receiving the correct services and his situation improved. He is now volunteering with HI, helping our team reach other similar cases. He shares his story with other refugees which helps him overcome his own trauma.
Paralysed without a wheelchair
At first, Osama would not leave the house as he didn't have a wheelchair and had no intention of getting one. HI's team visited him for the first time in 2013. He was given a wheelchair, taught how to use it, go up and down ramps, and how to dress himself. He was supported by our team for two years.
He also received psychological support. He started talking about the places he wants to visit and what type of educational courses he would like to take. He finished high school after attending a special program for Syrian refugees in Jordan, but his certificate is not recognised by most educational institutions.
Remembering a happier time
In Syria, Osama studied car mechanics in an industrial high school. Every morning, he used to take the bus, then meet his friends and head to classes. After school, he hung out with his friends until evening. Either they went to an internet café, public garden, or to a friend’s house.
After arriving home, he would help his family with house chores, mainly gardening. His family’s economic situation was good and he was one of the few people who owned a computer at home. Sometimes he would sit on the computer for two hours and play video games. Their olive garden brought a good income every year by producing oil.
Now no one is able to approach the area he used to live in, because of the destruction and devastation to the town.
Life in a wheelchair
Living as a refugee in Jordan, daily difficulties start when Osama needs to leave home. Streets and sidewalks are not adapted to people in wheelchairs. He cannot get around or access any buildings and generally faces many obstacles due to the city's lack of accessibility. Moreover, he has trouble finding a decent job or continue studying.
He used to be a regular student in car mechanics, but war, his spinal cord injury, and his situation as a Syrian refugee, have changed everything. He faces a hard time getting good quality training, as most affordable education institutes are not accessible to him.
In addition, Osama cannot apply for a qualified a job as employers require college certificates, whereas Osama is self-taught in programming and photo editing.
His dream would be to emigrate to Canada where his uncles live, in order to receive a good education in college, access more services in the community, and to become a game developer.
HI's response to the Syrian Crisis
HI and its local partners have been assisting Syrian refugees and vulnerable people in Jordan and in Lebanon since 2012.
In 2019, thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we had an amazing impact:
- HI and its partners provided rehabilitation sessions to 3,215 people.
- HI supplied 382 people with mobility equipment such as wheelchairs, canes, and crutches.
- HI supported more than 400 people with psychological and social aid.
- HI worked with 11 local partners.
- HI and its partners provided rehabilitation sessions to more than 3,000 people and supplied around 500 people with mobility equipment such as wheelchairs, canes, and crutches.
- HI supported around 220 people with psychological support.
- HI conducted 2,000 Risk Education sessions on the dangers of unexploded weapons, which reached more than 40,000 people.
Players of People’s Postcode Lottery are generously supporting Humanity & Inclusion's work with injured and traumatised Syrian refugees and our Stop Bombing campaign to protect civilians.
For more information visit www.postcodelottery.co.uk