“I’ve got all the time in the world now”
Hani, 35, fell from the roof of his home in Syria, a few years ago, when a bombing took place next to his building. After fleeing the conflict with his family, he arrived in Lebanon in 2013 and Handicap International has been providing him with physiotherapy care since the start of the year. Handicap International is able to provide assistance to people like Hani, in Lebanon and in the rest of the region, thanks to the support of the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection service (ECHO).
Hani during his physiotherapy session. | © G. Vandendaelen / Handicap International
Hani welcomes Fadia, physiotherapist and Mohammad, social worker, as he lays on his bed, in the house he shares with his brother and parents. Today, Handicap International’s team is going to provide him with another rehabilitation session. Hani hasn’t been able to walk for several years. “I was injured at the start of the conflict in Syria,” he says. “I was sitting on the roof of our house. The neighbouring building was hit by a bomb. I was blown into the air and fell from five floors down. My spine was injured and I was rushed to the hospital. I stayed there for a year, before my family and I decided to come to Lebanon.”
Fadia directs Hani’s movements and helps him do various exercises as he continues his story: “It seemed like the right thing to do. Before the war, I used to play football at a high level and I used to go to Lebanon a lot. Several universities wanted me for their team, even though I wasn’t one of their students. I’d found my vocation and I wanted to live my passion.” Hani continues with a sad look in his eyes: “I also used to earn a living selling sweets. I was really busy and I loved life: when I didn’t have any work, I used to go out with my friends. Today everything has changed. I’ve got all the time in the world now.”
Hani’s mother, Mouna, still seems distressed by what happened to her son. “I don’t like to think about his future... I can help him now, but what’s going to happen in a few years’ time? I pray constantly that he’ll get better, but I’m really worried.” Hani adds: “My mother has been depressed since my accident, I’m doing everything I can to move forward, though, despite the problems I have to deal with every day.”
Today, one of the family’s biggest worries is money. Hani, his brother and his parents can only pay their rent thanks to the generosity of their neighbours, and they don’t have enough money to pay for the surgery Hani needs. “We need to pay for everything here,” he says. “That wasn’t the case in Syria. And we’ve spent all of our saving over the last few years.”
As part of its emergency response, Handicap International makes sure people like Hani are able to access free care to help them move forward with their lives. Since the start of the Syrian crisis, more than 130,000 people have benefited from Handicap International’s services in Lebanon, where Handicap International’s professionals have organised more than 18,000 rehabilitation sessions, among other activities.