The war in Syria has forced more than 10 million people to flee to neighbouring countries. Over a million refugees are currently living in Lebanon, among them 50,000 Palestinians from Syria who are taking refuge in hugely overcrowded camps.
It is estimated that 22 percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are disabled, either due to war injuries or problems at birth. Overstretched health services combined with poverty mean that vulnerable adults and children with disabilities are unable to get the therapy they desperately need.
In 2014, Islamic Relief Waqf worked in partnership with a local organisation to establish a rehabilitation centre to provide free treatment for Palestinian refugees with physical and mental disabilities or speech difficulties. The centre in Bekaa, Lebanon, has three medical staff and is equipped to serve around 120 patients a year. This includes specialist medical care and medication, rehabilitation services including physiotherapy, speech and occupational therapy, as well as educational and family support.
Zeina was six years old when she fled Syria with her family. She was born with a spinal cord problem that caused mental and physical disabilities. She used to receive regular physiotherapy for free in Syria, until war broke out.
“We were living in Al-Rakka when the war started and the area was besieged so Zeina couldn’t continue her physiotherapy,” Zeina’s mother explained. “Her condition started deteriorating, and her body movement decreased.”
When the family fled to Lebanon they found the physiotherapy much more expensive. “We looked for a centre offering free therapy but we could not find one,” said Zeina’s mother. “But a man told us that a centre had recently opened near us, offering free physiotherapy, so we immediately visited it.”
Zeina now attends the centre weekly. Her mother walks 30 minutes to get to the centre because she cannot afford transport, but she is willing to do anything to provide her daughter with care.
“When Zeina first came to the centre her physical condition was bad because she had stopped therapy for two years and this affected her body movements,” said Nour, Zeina’s physiotherapist. “Zeina needs this physiotherapy and it would be dangerous for her to stop, but it is not a cure; it just keeps her bones and muscles in good condition.”
“Zeina feels safe here and the team is giving her the best quality of care,” said her mother. “She wasn’t happy at her old centre in Syria, but things are different here and Zeina has become happier and more comfortable.”
“I would like to thank Islamic Relief Waqf for their generous help. They restored my optimism when I had lost hope.”
Thanks to Islamic Relief Waqf, some of the most vulnerable refugees in Lebanon are receiving the critical care they need as they wait to see what the future holds.
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