At Tripoli’s General Hospital, a young girl pushes a wheelchair into the physiotherapy room. Sat in the wheelchair, Abdel Azzim, 20 years old, looks tired. Watching his sister help him onto the hospital bed for his rehabilitation session, it is hard to imagine that just a few years ago, this young man was a happy, outgoing teenager. Today, his smile is replaced by a tormented look and he can hardly move his body at all.
"I was at home when the bombing took place," he says. "What else is there to say? I was hit in the back by shrapnel, that's all," Abdel Azzim's eyes darken. "I have been a refugee here for two years... two years. And there is no sign of the war ending. Nothing seems to change. I feel like I have no future." The Syrian then briefly talks about his life before the war. His high school, his friends, the little bit of French he had learned in class. Then his eyes glaze over again and he adds, "I prefer to forget about it, actually. I used to have memories, but not anymore." Abdel Azzim suffered bombing raids and torture over a period of several years. His physical and mental scars will never totally heal.
"We are doing our best to help him," explains Abdullah, a Handicap International social worker. "I've offered Abdel Azzim and his family psychological support so they can express what they are feeling and speak about the difficulties they encounter." Wassila, a physiotherapist, adds, "Our sessions will help Abdel Azzim to walk a little, with a walking frame and orthoses, because he is not completely paralysed. We can't change what he has been through, but we are here to remind him that all is not lost."