“We didn’t realise anything, at first,” says Badi, Abdel Rahman’s father. “Everything seemed okay when he was a baby. But when he was old enough to walk, we noticed he couldn’t do it."
”We lived in a small village and there were no specialists who could tell us how to help him," he continues.
”When Abdel Rahman was nine, we travelled to a large town so he could have advanced physiotherapy sessions with a specialist doctor. But two years later, the conflict broke out and we had to stop the sessions.”
Starting physiotherapy again
In Azraq refugee camp in Jordan, Mo’men, a Handicap International physiotherapist, starts the session with some strengthening exercises to stimulate Abdel Rahman’s muscular system and joints.
“Abdel Rahman had to stop his physiotherapy sessions in Syria, so he needs to start from scratch,” he explains. “But I know he can do it. He’s really keen and he’s going to make progress soon, I’m sure of it,” he says, smiling. The young boy, who follows Mo’men’s instructions enthusiastically, seems to agree.
Abdel Rahman’s family watch on during the session and look at what the physiotherapist does very carefully. Abdel Rahman’s father, Badi, was a plumber in Syria. He wants to learn the simple exercises that will help improve his son’s life in Jordan.
When he arrived in the country with his four children, wife and mother, he decided to do everything he could to make his family’s life easier in the camp. Mo’men shows Badi how to relieve his son’s discomfort and help him to move around.
“He played video games with boys the same age as him. He couldn’t have done that without a wheelchair”
As well as physiotherapy sessions, Handicap International’s team have given Abdel Rahman a wheelchair so he can go outside and cover longer distances.
“Yesterday, for the first time, he visited a centre where they organise activities for children in the camp. He played video games with boys the same age as him. He couldn’t have done that without a wheelchair,” explains his mother, Wafaa.
Despite the challenges he faces, Abdel Rahman is just like any other teenager. He enjoys spending time with his friends and asks his parents when he’s going to get the mobile phone they promised him when they were still living in Syria.
After a few more exercises, Mo’men asks Abdel Rahman if he’d like to practice using his wheelchair. The young boy agrees and excitedly moves back and forward in the chair, proud of his movements and the progress he’s made since his first session.
“One day I’m going to care for people too...” he says to the physiotherapist. Abdel Rahman wants to be a doctor and his experiences over the last few years have made him even more determined to succeed.
* Project funded with the support of The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department – ECHO
© Elisa Fourt / Handicap International