“HI has given us reason to carry on”

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“We left our country when the conflict began,” Hiyam tell HI’s team in Lebanon about fleeing the violence in Syria. “We didn’t want our sons and daughter to grow up with the war. When we arrived in Lebanon, we thought we’d be safe. Then one day, on my husband Talal’s way home, a car came out of nowhere and plowed into him. My daughter was also in the car and she’s still very traumatized by the accident.

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They took my husband to the hospital where he spent a month in intensive care. The doctors told us he wouldn’t survive, or if he did, he wouldn’t remember anything. They also said he’d be totally paralyzed for the rest of his life. I remember the first time I visited him in his hospital room. He looked like he was dead. I was devastated.”

Today, HI’s team in Lebanon is helping Talal regain strength and independence through rehabilitation. Mariam, a pysical therapist with HI visits Talal and Hiyam’s shelter where she helps him with physical therapy exercises. Talal, 40, slowly puts one foot in front of the other, leaning on his wife and wincing at even the slightest movement. Although it’s been a year since his accident, he’s still in a lot of pain.

“Talal’s come a long way since we first met him,” Mariam explains. “But it will still be a while before he recovers from his accident.” Hiyam gives Talal an affectionate look as he continues doing his physical therapy exercises with Mariam. When he manages to slightly raise his leg off the mattress, his wife’s face lights up with a huge smile. “I never lost hope,” Hiyam says. “And I did everything possible to make sure my husband was able to get physical therapy care. When he was in the hospital, I borrowed money from everyone I knew to make sure he had rehabilitation sessions. But after a while, it wasn’t enough.”

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Looking for ways to ensure her husband could continue rehabilitation care, Hiyam visited one of the health centers where Handicap International provides care. “That’s where I met your team,” she adds. “A week later, HI staff came to our home to provide Talal with physical therapy. When I was trying to find a solution for my husband, I asked for help from many organizations, but none of them did what you’ve done for us. You’re the ones who came to see us here and who are helping Talal recover.”

As her husband’s session comes to an end, Hiyam describes the enormous progress he’s made already. “I know it might not seem like much, and Talal is still in a lot of pain and moves very slowly, but he’s changed a lot since his first session with HI. Before, he couldn’t move at all and he was totally dependent on us. We fed him, washed him, and so on. HI has given us a reason to carry on. When a physical therapist tells us that Talal will recover some of his movement, and that he’ll gradually get better, it makes a huge difference.”

As for the future, Hiyam explains what her family intends to do next. “Since my husband’s accident, we’ve been living from hand to mouth. Maybe we’ll return to our country, but everything’s been destroyed. We don’t even have a house to live in there. Of course I’d like to go home, but if it’s no longer there, what can we do? We’re putting ourselves in God’s hands. I hope that, one way or another, my husband will fully recover so we can guarantee a bright future for our children.”