Almost two years ago, Kholoud, 32, was shot by a sniper while outside her home in Syria. A single bullet struck her in the neck, leaving her paralyzed from the neck down. Now living in a makeshift shack in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, she is cared for by her husband and Handicap International rehabilitation staff.
Kholoud does not know why she was targeted. “There was no reason for it. It seemed like a normal day and it was calm. It was a random shot—there was no fighting at the time. But now we know that there was a sniper in the area.”
Propped up in bed on some pillows, she remembers her previous life: “I was living peacefully with my family in Syria. My husband had a job and was trying to do his best to give us a good life. I was trying to support my children as much as possible.”
As the fighting came closer and closer to the family home they narrowly escaped a bombing. But, just one month later, tragedy struck.
“I was outside tending to my garden with my four children,” said Kholoud. “Suddenly, a bullet hit my neck. I fell down and lost sensation. I couldn’t move any more. The children started shouting and yelling. My father, mother, and brother took me to an emergency clinic.”
“I was in a coma for 15 days. A tube was put in my neck so I could eat and breathe. It seemed like my case was hopeless, and the doctors did not give my family any hope that I would survive.”
“However, I eventually woke up from the coma and I was moved to a bigger hospital with better care. I couldn’t feel any part of my body. I remember asking my mother to raise my hand up so I could see that my body was still in one piece.”
Two and a half months later, Kholoud was discharged from hospital. She moved to a small apartment in Damascus with her family. They eventually fled to Lebanon in January 2014.
Handicap International’s mobile rehabilitation team found Kholoud one week after she arrived, and started supporting her straight away. The team provided her with physical therapy, a bed, a kit for treating wounds, and other home health care items.
“We taught her husband how to perform physical rehabilitation sessions with his wife,” says Amani, a Handicap International social worker. “He is also able to treat her wounds and follow her medication regimen.”
Kholoud is grateful for the support of her husband and Handicap International, but struggles with the fact that her disability prevents her from caring for children. “I wish I could move my fingers because sometimes my son is hurt outside and he comes in to see me. He moves my hand and puts my fingers on the wound. I wish I could move my fingers to touch the wound and make him feel like I am feeling it with him.”
However, she still feels blessed to be surrounded by her children, who escaped Syria without injury. “My children are the best gift from God. When I see them happy and satisfied I feel like I’m well and I have my health back.”