"My injury has changed everything"
Hozeifa was injured in 2016, during the bombing of Idlib in Syria. He is now paraplegic and lives in a tent with the rest of his family in Lebanon, where they have taken refuge. Handicap International is helping him to adapt to his new circumstances by providing psychological support and physiotherapy.
Hozeifa was wounded in 2016 during a bombardment in Idlib, Syria. A burst of shell pierced his body and made him paraplegic. Now a refugee in Lebanon, he lives in a tent with the rest of his family. | © P.Poulpiquet/Handicap International
Surrounded by the Bekaa Mountains, a makeshift tent stands in the corner of a field. It is home to Hozeifa and his family who have been living here since the end of 2016. Lying on a bed provided by Handicap International, the teenager can barely move. Mohamad, a physiotherapist, visits him regularly to provide rehabilitation care.
The young Syrian was injured last year. "I was on my way home from school with my cousin when a missile landed next to us. I just remember the sound of the explosion, before I lost consciousness. When I woke up, I was in the hospital. They told me that a piece of shell shrapnel had pierced my body and damaged my spinal column." Hozeifa spent several months in hospital in Syria, before finally joining the rest of his family, who had already taken refuge in Lebanon several years earlier.
"I stayed behind in Syria for my studies. I was one of the best students in my class. I wanted to become a teacher or a doctor... but everything changed with my injury. The journey into Lebanon was very difficult, but I needed to be with my parents after what happened to me. Today, we are all together, but I am finding it hard to come to terms with our living conditions. We are in a tent and in the winter it's very cold. For the time being I can't use the wheelchair that Handicap International has given me... my day-to-day life here is light years away from my previous life."
Mohamad tries to encourage the teenager during the physiotherapy session. "I always try to be very positive with him," explains the physiotherapist. "I try to show him that he can still do lots of different things, despite his condition. We are also providing psychological support to help him fight against depression and to accept his situation." In between two exercises, Hozeifa himself tells us, "These sessions with Mohamad give me hope again. When I arrived here, I couldn't even sit up. Today, I can. I really hope that one day I will be able to stand up too."