Getting back on track

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“I’m 32 and every way seems to be a dead end,” Omar explains to Abdelillah, a physical therapist with Handicap International. With shadows under his eyes, Omar looks exhausted as he sits in a small rehabilitation room at Azraq refugee camp. Omar sobs as he tells Abdelillah how he’s feeling. “Sometimes I feel like there’s no future... When will it end? When will it end?”  

Horrific past events still weigh heavily on Omar’s mind. Between 2011 and 2013, he was tortured twice, and as a result, can no longer walk properly. He managed to flee to Jordan in 2013, but did not  arrive in Azraq camp until the beginning of last year.

A smile flickers across Omar’s face. “I’m so glad you’re here. I needed to talk. I feel so alone here. Sometimes I feel like I could die and no one would care. A few months ago, I thought everything was about to change. I found a woman I wanted to marry. But her father refused, because of my disability. He totally destroyed the image I had of myself. And I still haven’t got over that.”

As Abdelillah begins physical therapy exercises with Omar he explains, “I want you to think of your life as you think of our rehabilitation sessions.” As he goes through the movements, Omar looks more relaxed. “I’m still finding it very hard to have hope in the future and my moods are all over the place,” Omar states. “But the physical therapy sessions are helping me get back on track.”

Abdelillah has been helping Omar for weeks. “Handicap International is also monitoring Omar through psychological support sessions,” says Abdelillah. “We’re helping him take each day as it comes, and not to be too downbeat about the future. It’s going to take time. He’s very scared. He has his ups and downs, but that’s something we often see in our sessions. Our aim is to ensure that there are more ups than downs, for now.”

When the session ends, Omar thanks Abdellilah and adds: “If you and Handicap International hadn’t been there I don’t know what would have become of me. You made me feel like I matter – that I had a role to play in society. Each rehabilitation session makes me feel like I’m fighting for something. I leave with a lighter heart.”