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“My greatest wish is to return home”

Emergency Rehabilitation
Jordan Syria

Manahel is 28 years old. At the start of the conflict in Syria, she was injured in an air strike. The young woman decided to stay in the country, despite the worsening situation. A few months ago, she finally decided to flee to Jordan with her family. Since then, they live in Azraq camp, where Handicap International’s team is helping Manahel recover from her injuries. The organisation’s assistance to Syrian refugees in Jordan is supported by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection service (ECHO).

G. Vandendaelen / Handicap International

Over the last few months, tens of thousands of refugees have arrived in Azraq camp, in Jordan. One of those refugees is Manahel, a young mother who is still affected by an injury she suffered from, five years ago, in Syria. “I was at home that day, with my husband and my three-month-old son. A bomb fell on our home and my son and I suffered from shrapnel wounds. We were transported to the hospital and they sewed up my hand wounds. But a few days later, it was all blue and swollen. I knew that wasn’t normal. I went to see another doctor and he told me that if I didn’t do anything about it, they would have to amputate it. So they operated on me again.”

The doctors managed to reconnect the blood vessels and tendons in Manahel’s hand to avoid the worst, but her pain wouldn’t go away. Over the years, the endless conflict in Syria has prevented Manahel from receiving physiotherapy treatment. Because she could no longer cook or carry anything, her husband and children helped her as best as they could. Her injury is centred on a nerve and even if an object touches her hand only slightly, it causes her extreme pain. The fact that the family has had to constantly move around as the conflict unfolded has also made Manahel’s life more complicated.

“We never spent more than a few months in the same place,” she explains. “Every time we restarted our lives somewhere, we had to flee again. We ended up deciding to leave Syria. We couldn’t find food for our children anymore, and we were frightened for their future. We left everything behind, and jumped in the first car we came across on the road.”

After several months of waiting at the border, Manahel and her family arrived in Azraq camp, in Jordan. When she saw Handicap International’s teams visiting refugees in the caravan next to hers, she called them over and talked to them about the searing pain in her hand. “We immediately provided her with care and treatment,” explains Noor, physiotherapist. “Since then, we’ve been doing rehabilitation exercises to reduce the pain in her hand and to strengthen her hand muscles at the same time.” Mohamed, a social worker, adds: “We are also trying to make sure she can have the surgery she needs.”

As Noor continues with the physiotherapy session, Manahel shares her hopes with her. The young mother dreams that one day the situation in Syria will get better so that she can move back with her family. “To be honest, I don’t know what the future holds. I can’t even imagine it,” she says. “I just know that my greatest wish is for all of us to return home one day.”

Date published: 16/08/16

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