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“When you have a disability, you can’t just get up and run for safety”

Inclusion Rehabilitation
Syria

Life can be harrowing for people with disabilities in war-torn Syria, as they are exposed to violence and discrimination. HI and its local partners are helping Faisal to live like any other father.

Faisal tending to his livestock with the help of his electric wheelchair surrounded by all his sheep.

Faisal looking after his sheep farm. | © partenaire HI

Faisal, 26, was injured in a bomb attack in 2016. He is now in a wheelchair. He tells us what it is like to live through war when you are a person with disabilities.

Left disabled by a bomb attack

Faisal (not his real name) is sitting on the floor, hugging his daughter Leyla who is wearing a gold-coloured dress covered in sequins. The little room they share with Faisal’s wife, sisters, and parents is empty apart from a few thin mattresses and Leyla’s building blocks and toys.

“My daughter is my biggest joy. She makes me so happy. Every minute I spend with her is precious and full of light.”

Faisal was injured by shrapnel in 2016. His spinal cord was damaged, leaving his lower limbs paralysed.

 “Nothing has ever been the same since. I hate the look in people’s eyes when they see me. I don’t want others to feel sorry for me. People make me feel very uncomfortable, which is why I prefer to stay home with my family.”

Life is twice as hard for people with disabilities

In Syria, having a disability makes everything harder. Few public places or facilities are adapted to the needs of people with disabilities.

“Nothing is designed to make things easier for me. The roads, markets, bathrooms – I can’t access anything without help. There are no jobs in the community for me, which makes me feel useless at times.”

Faisal and his family have been displaced on many occasions by the violence. His house was destroyed and the family had to flee with the very little they could carry, as they no longer had a car. For a few months, they stayed in a camp for displaced people.

No escape when you have a disability

“The worst times were during airstrikes, when the bombs were being dropped. Everyone got up and ran to seek safety. But I couldn’t get up and run, because my legs don’t work anymore.”

Instead, Faisal just closed his eyes, waiting for the bombs to stop, and hoped that he would be able to open them again. Without help, he couldn’t get to a safer place.

Earning money to support his family

HI and local partners helped Faisal to launch of small livestock business. He received four sheep and training in dairy production, as well as in accounting to manage his finances. Before receiving this support, he didn’t have the means to buy any sheep.

He is now producing milk, ghee, and cheese for his family. He is also selling part of his production and buying wheat or vegetables with the profit.

Faisal had always dreamed of having his own sheep so that he could feed his family.

“We are financially stable now. My little business is growing and flourishing. I can feed my family with what I produce. More than anything, I feel hope again. I feel like life can be good and this really keeps me going.”

HI and its partners also provided him with batteries for his motorcycle and made adaptations to his house and barn, installing new doors and ramps to make them accessible.

Date published: 20/03/23

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