Bayan, 12: "I long to walk again"

  • Emergency
  • Rehabilitation
  • Lebanon
  • Syria

Bayan is twelve-years-old. Born with spina bifida, a condition where the spine does not develop properly, she has reduced mobility. Every week, she visits a rehabilitation centre equipped for physiotherapy sessions by Handicap International, with support from ECHO . She’s also likely to be given orthoses to help her walk again.

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Bayan and Narimane during a physiotherapy session in a rehabilitation centre equipped by Handicap International, Lebanon.
Bayan and Narimane during a physiotherapy session in a rehaBayan and Narimane during a physiotherapy session in a rehabilitation centre equipped by Handicap International, Lebanon.bilitation centre supported by Handicap International
Bayan and Narimane during a physiotherapy session in a rehabilitation centre equipped by Handicap International, Lebanon.

Fleeing fighting in Syria, Bayan and her family arrived in Lebanon in April 2014. Since then, she has lived with her mother and two brothers in a makeshift camp in Beqaa Valley. Since Bayan was born with spina bifida, she needs regular physiotherapy sessions and an adapted orthopaedic device to walk.

In Syria, Bayan used orthoses and a walking frame to move around. Now she goes everywhere in her wheelchair.

“When we fled, everything happened so fast I had to leave everything behind, apart from my wheelchair,” she says sadly

For the last few weeks, Bayan has been receiving care from Narimane, one of Handicap International’s physiotherapists, who helps her do her mobilisation and muscle-strengthening exercises at the rehabilitation centre.

“Bayan needs adapted orthoses to support her legs and pelvis so she can walk properly,” explains Narimane. Bayan, who is expected to be given the new orthoses she needs, quietly admits that she longs to walk again.

Struggling to make ends meet

Since they arrived in Lebanon, Bayan and her brothers don’t go to school because they can’t afford the fees. Jamila, Bayan’s mother, looks after her three children alone.

“My husband was a history and geography teacher. He disappeared suddenly and we don’t know what happened to him. Since then, I’ve had to take care of our children by myself.”

The family is given food vouchers, but that doesn’t mean Jamila and her children have enough to eat. So she works during the day to try and make ends meet.

“Sometimes I manage to find odd jobs in the fields or doing housework. But it’s not enough. I’m getting deeper into debt just to feed my children and put a roof over our heads.”

Since she’s unable to go back to school, Bayan spends her time with friends in the camp where her family lives. “I miss school,” she says. “I’d like to carry on with my studies and become a doctor one day.”

Published 28/10/15

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