Syria: Living in the moment

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“My heart hurts,” Etidal tells Handicap International Physical Therapist, Mo’men. Mo’men decides to begin the session with a few simple exercises to gain Etidal’s trust and to keep her from becoming too exhausted.

Handicap International Social Worker, Iba, chats with Etidal’s daughter, Nariman. “There are six of us in Jordan,” explains Nariman. “My mother, brothers, and two nephews. The rest of our family is still in Syria. Several of them died in bombings this year. We heard about it on the TV. My mother also almost died in 2012, just after the start of the war. Our town was hit by the first attacks.”

Etidal was at home with her daughter-in-law and grandson, when a bomb struck their building. Etidal’s daughter-in-law died instantly, leaving her son, Tamer, traumatized and Etidal badly injured.

Etidal and Tamer were rushed to the hospital several hundred miles from their home where they received treatment. Etidal remained in Syria for another year, moving from town to town to escape the attacks. In 2013, she and a few family members decided to flee for Jordan.

While Nariman talks about her family’s experience, Mo’men continues encouraging Etidal as she completes her exercises. Nearly four years after being injured, her hip still causes her pain. Etidal lost most of her muscular strength and has a difficult time moving, but also suffers from heart problems that prevent her from breathing properly.

“Physical therapy has helped restore some of her mobility,” explains Mo’men. “I encourage her to get out and explore, but she needs time, because she’s very worried about her heart condition.”

Since arriving in Jordan, Etidal has not been able to afford the medication she used to take when she lived in Syria. Handicap International is working with other NGOs to ensure the family receives financial assistance so Etidal can purchase the medications she needs.

“Sometimes my mother tells me that she’d like to go back to Syria,” Nariman explains. “But I always ask her ‘why?’ Just this year, I lost both my sister and brother in this war. I tell my mother that her heart is strained and her mind is tormented, and that’s understandable when you realize what she has been through.”

“But even if we go back, nothing will ever be the same. We should be happy with what we have. We need to look ahead–especially for the children–and the best way to do that is to simply live in the moment.”