"Imad is on his way," explains the physiotherapist at Tripoli’s General Hospital, as we wait for the Syrian man. "He's stuck in his building because the lift is out of order. He'll have to wait for the electricity to come back on," she says, obviously used to these sorts of situations. Around ten minutes later, Imad enters the Handicap International rehabilitation room. As he starts his physiotherapy sessions, he admits, "Nobody ever imagines they will end up paralysed... In Syria, I was a builder and lived a simple life, but for me it was a beautiful one. I used to work during the day and, in the evening, I would go home to rest. I had no problems... Then the war started and everything changed."
When the conflict began, Imad was living in Bab Al Amr, one of the neighbourhoods in Homs that has been the most severely damaged. "I had to stop working, I couldn't leave the house, it was too dangerous," he explains. In 2013, as the war intensified, Imad's house was bombed. "We were sheltering on the first floor but a missile fell on the house. My two brothers died instantly, and I was hit by shrapnel in the neck. It's hard for me to come to terms with being paralysed, but what hurts the most is the death of my brothers. They were only teenagers, they had their whole lives ahead of them."
Shortly after the incident, Imad took refuge in Lebanon with his sister and parents. "It took me two months to get here because of my injury. Life in Lebanon is complicated, especially for people with disabilities. We depend on anyone who is willing to help us. Human beings are nothing without each other." The physiotherapy session draws to an end. Imad wheels himself to the door and adds, "I hope my message will travel far and wide."