Syrians Seeking New Limbs

The number of people suffering from permanent disability is unknown

One day in October, little ten-year-old Shaza's life was changed forever in the space of just a just few minutes. A military aircraft dropped an explosive barrel over her village Dair Sunbul in the area of Jabal Al-Zawia, depriving this young girl her father, and her hand, that once clung to her old and worn doll each night .

 

Pain did not find a way to her precious heart, but it found  its way to her hand. Shaza still hopes her amputated hand will grow back gradually as she grows older.

 

Shaza is one of thousand wounded Syrians who suffers from permanent physical disabilities.

 

So far there are no clear figures about the number of people with permanent physical disabilities inflicted during the war in Syria.

 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that military operations have caused gross violations of human rights, with the number of martyrs reaching 115, 206, including 6,087 children and 4,079 women, as well as thousands of wounded, up to 30 September 2013. There is no doubt that a large number of these injuries will become permanent disabilities.

 

With deep pain and sorrow,  Shaza's mother relives the difficult moments.

 

"One of the explosive barrels fell close to our house.  My husband was injured in his head and he ended up bleeding to death from the shrapnel wound," She recalls.

 

"Shaza was injured in her hand too. The intensity of the shelling prevented us from getting them help in time, so my husband died. Surgery was conducted on Shaza`s hand where amputation was the only option."

 

It seems that Shaza's innocence and pure spirit has made her accept her painful reality, at least for the time being; the fingers of her other hand are held in the sign of victory.

 

Shaza`s mother declines to reveal who is supporting her after her husband death, only saying that "there are so many good people." But she sighs, wondering “how long will they stay”.

 

Hassan, 16, was forced to choose a hard life, still dreaming of the old days when he thanked God for complete health and wellbeing. Hassan says he misses school and craves writing homework, something that he will never do again.

 

Hassan describes his tragedy which began when the doctors decided to amputate his left hand after it was hit by shrapnel near his house in Pepeala, in the countryside of Damascus in late September.

 

"I’ve was taken to the nearest field hospital at night. I was bleeding a lot. The doctors tried to help me as much ad possible, despite the lack of medical supplies. I felt a heartache when I lost the sense of the palm of my hand and fingers which I used to draw out scribbles on the pages of my notebooks," Hassan says, frowning. 

 

With an affectionate glance at her son, Hassan's mother says she has become accustomed to narrating stories of one handed heroes to lul her son to sleep. 

 

"Perhaps I find some comfort in them for my youngest boy, Hassan and for myself," she says.

 

Hassan and Shaza were not lucky enough to obtain artificial hands to support them to do what they did in the past. They are not readily available in field hospitals due to the suffocating siege over many areas in Syria. Nonetheless, they are content with simple physical therapy, limited to some kinetic exercises once every three days; special physical therapy in the field hospitals near to where they live is also limited.

 

The best way to describe the approach of Abu Mohammad, 26, and Hussam, 25, is: Despite the wounds, the smile don't leave their faces.

 

These two men from Al-Lataminah in Hama countryside decided to fight with the rebels, joining the Kataeb Ahrar Al Shamal group.

 

Friendship and suffering brought them together. Abu Mohammed was married before The Syrian Revolution and has only one child, his daughter Hiba. Hussam has promised his family he will marry and settle down after the triumph of the revolution.

 

"I expected death in the battle at Al-Karmeed camp in Edlib countryside in July 2013, but I never thought I wiould lose my both legs and one eye," Abu Mohammed says.

 

Abu Mohammed spends his days in a wheel chair and his little girl Heba sets down on what is left of his legs. He never stops watching her with his one eye.

 

Hussam is fully aware that he is no longer capable of helping his family financially as he used to, after losing his right arm that he used to do most of his work.

 

Abu Mohammed and Hussam are now in the field hospital in Hama countryside, where they are receiving physical therapy, hoping to receive artificial limbs.

 

Dr. Abu Modar is supervising their treatment. He is the founder of this free hospital, which  consist of a central pharmacy, a few clinics and an operations room with medical equipment.

 

"There are no artificial limbs in most of the field hospitals located in the liberated areas, but there are centers belong to the Syrians in Turkey which are installing artificial limbs for free, so they are primarily relying on the physical therapy for those with permanent disability," Modar says.

 

Abu Farouq is the only physical therapist at the hospital.

 

"We created a special section for physical therapy in the hospital and the number of patients  recieving care is now more than 40 people," he says.

 

"The number can be increased, and the majority of patients are children over the age of nine years, who have their hands and legs amputated due to shelling."

 

Tranlsated and edited by The Syrian Observer

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