Five-year-old Malak, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan’s Zaatari camp with her family, laughs joyfully as she kicks a football back and forth with Mohammed, her Handicap International Physical Therapist. Mohammed is teaching the girl how to use her new prosthetic leg. It’s difficult to imagine now, but in December 2015, when Malak first met Mohammed, she did nothing but cry.
“The first time I met her, Malak was still in shock,” says Mohammed. Malak had come to Jordan after a bomb struck her family’s home in Syria. Malak had her leg amputated, her baby sister was killed, and her other brother and sister were severely burned.
“When I first started working with Malak, I brought my my colleague, a psychologist, to help me gain her trust,” says Mohammed. “She slowly began to cry less and to let me into her life.” After weeks of rehabilitation, the organization took Malak’s measurements and fitted her with a prosthetic leg so she could walk again.
“The exercises we are doing today are helping her to get used to her prosthesis,” says Mohammed, as he kicks the ball around with Malak. “When I see her smiling now, I’m so proud of the progress she has made.”
“Malak is a lot more independent now and she enjoys life much more,” says Malak’s father Houdey. “She likes walking around the camp with me. She’s really curious and likes watching what’s going on around her.”
Mohammed leads Malak outside of Handicap International’s rehabilitation center for more balance exercises. He takes her around an obstacle course to prepare her for the sort of physical challenges she might encounter in her everyday life. Malak listens carefully to Mohammed’s instructions and then concentrates hard as she walks around blocks and over beams. She completes all of the exercises without falling once. Impressed by how easy it is now for Malak to move around, Mohammed congratulates her on her progress.
The session comes to an end and it’s time for Malak to go home. The little girl waves at Mohammed excitedly, already impatient to see him again. Mohammed and Malak have formed a real bond. When she grows up, she would like to be a physical therapist, just like him.