Fourteen-year-old Salam recalls the day her life changed forever: “My neighborhood (in Syria) came under intense aerial bombardment. I was walking in the street with Falak, my big sister, when the bombs started falling with a deafening sound. My sister and I tried to take shelter, but a bomb fell a few feet away from us. My older sister was hit in the head and didn’t survive. I got hit by shrapnel.”
Doctors performed an emergency amputation of her legs in Syria. Then, she was sent ahead of her extended family to join a brother in Jordan, where she would continue treatment. “Salam didn’t wait to be fitted with prostheses to walk," Salam's mother notes. "After her amputation, and scars had healed, she began walking on her stumps!”
Today, they live with ten family members in a small, two-room property in a rural village, outside the city of Irbid, Jordan.
Salam receives a weekly visit from a Handicap International mobile team, including a physical therapist and social worker—visits with a goal to help Salam grow stronger and more confident on her new legs. Like dozens of other people, Salam simply lives too far away from centrally located services, like those supported by Handicap International at Irbil's hospital.
Growing quickly, Salam's prostheses need to be changed every six months. In fact, every time her Handicap International team visits they check that the prostheses are in a good state. The slightest fault can make them very uncomfortable, and prevent Salam from doing her rehabilitation exercises.
Today, Salam’s weekly session includes weight lifting to strengthen her muscles, and walking on uneven ground to improve her balance, before ending with her favorite sport—soccer.
Salam is a big soccer fan, and her favorite player is Lionel Messi. But she’s not content with simply watching the game: Salam loves playing soccer in the street with her siblings and neighbors. “When I play soccer, I’m their teammate, not a girl with two prostheses anymore,” she explains, smiling.
In the future, Salam’s greatest hope is to return to school.
Handicap International’s assistance to Syrian refugees in Jordan is supported by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection service (ECHO).