When Mariam, Handicap International’s physiotherapist, arrives in front of Mohsen’s tent, she’s greeted by his mother. “He’s on his way, he won’t be long,” says Aïda. A few minutes later, a young man in his twenties pulls up on a small motorbike. When meeting him for the first time, you’d never think Mohsen has ever had any health problems. “That wasn’t always the case,” his mother says. “He’s got years of rehabilitation under his belt.” Mohsen takes off his shoes before entering the tent, exposing his rigid right foot – the first clue that he’s wearing a prosthesis. “I lost my leg in several stages,” he says.
Although Mohsen was injured in a bombing in 2013, his leg was amputated a year later. “All I can remember of that day is a huge explosion. My leg was riddled with shrapnel, fracturing it in two places,” he says. He was rushed us to the nearest hospital and operated on immediately. “But there were so many injured people that they couldn’t let me stay long. I was back home the next day.” Mohsen’s external fixations, which were supposed to strengthen the bones in his leg, gradually became infected. “It got so bad that the doctors had no choice but to amputate my leg.”
Mohsen’s wife and mother, already living as refugees in Lebanon, told him to join them without delay. “There were also almost no health services left in our region of Syria. My mother and Iman said I’d get proper treatment here. So I took the road to Lebanon.” Mohsen met with Handicap International’s professionals shortly after arriving. They made sure he was fitted with a prosthesis that was the right size for him and arranged for him to have physiotherapy sessions.
“Thanks to the exercises I can stand again now,” he explains. “I’ve been doing them every day for three years, and things are improving. I feel as if my life is starting to get back to normal again. I worked as a labourer, back in Syria. It took me months to get a job here, but I managed, in the end. My employer decided to give me a chance despite only having one leg. It didn’t take him long to realise that I was still a good worker.” Mohsen gets his mobile out of his pocket and shows the organisation’s team a video of him working on a building site. He’s very proud. “I can make life easier for my family now that I’m back on my feet and working again. That’s what matters most to me,” he adds with a smile.