"I was certain I was dead"
Khalid, Rehams & Khulfa's stories
747,000 refugees|health care|rehabilitation centre
Jordan has a long history of welcoming refugees from conflicts across the Middle East; from Palestine, Iraq and now Syria. Today there is incredible strain on Jordan, with more than 747,000 Syrian refugees living there as health care and other services are stretched to breaking point.
With support from the European Commission's Humanitarian aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), International Medical Corps has been operating a rehabilitation centre in the Mafraq Governorate, providing post-operative healthcare services and psychosocial support to refugees injured in the Syrian conflict. Below are some of the stories of those who have come to the centre seeking help.
Khalid: “I prayed so many times that I would die so I could escape the pain.”
All Khalid had ever wanted was to buy his own house, get married and have a family, but that was until a bomb destroyed his dreams – and with it his will to live.
Khalid can still remember the pain he felt when the truck he was travelling in with his friend was hit by a shell fired from a tank. “I was certain I must be dead.”
Khalid was taken to a field hospital, only to be told that there was nothing that could be done for him there. He was then taken to Jordan and moved from one hospital to another, facing surgery after surgery.
He had no hope of ever being able to stand again. “I prayed so many times that I would die so I could escape the pain.”
Eventually his doctor convinced him to go the Aman rehabilitation centre run by International Medical Corps. At first, Khalid was very reluctant to receive help and refused assistance. Through painstaking work from our medical and psychosocial support teams, Khalid finally began to come to terms with his injury.
With his mental wellbeing improving his physical strength soon followed. He was soon able to move his arms again and to sit up on his own.
He remembers the moment he first realised he was able to walk again, a moment he described as “terrifying”.
“I was so scared and so happy at the same time. I had thought I would never walk again.
“I am so grateful for the Aman centre. Without all the staff here I would never have come this far. Walking is no longer just a dream for me.”
Reham: “I feel lucky to be alive”
25 year old Reham Zakki Al Masri, a loving wife and mother of two, remembers being happy and healthy before an explosion struck her home and left her with severe head injuries. In an instant, Reham found herself unable to move and even unable to breathe on her own.
When she arrived at the Aman rehabilitation centre run by International Medical Corps in January 2015 she was completely bedridden, couldn’t eat on her own and was barely able to open her eyes and see her surroundings. The nursing staff provided physical and mental care around the clock, helped her maintain her dignity and made sure her wounds would not get infected.
When she regained some of her physical strength, Reham was also seen by a physiotherapist who provided daily rehabilitation sessions. The physiotherapist started with simple exercises to work on Reham’s range of motion, gradually moving to more demanding activities, such as balancing exercises and gait training. With continuous medical care and psychosocial support from International Medical Corps, Reham’s health was improving day by day – so much so she was able to begin taking her exercise in the centre’s gardens.
Eventually Reham was able to eat and go to the bathroom on her own. Although she has lost some of her cognitive functions and communication abilities, she says she feels lucky to be alive.
Reham was discharged from the centre on 2 April, 2015, grateful for the help she had received and excited to finally return to her family.
Khulfa: “The definition of what it means to not only survive, but to come out on the other side stronger”
Khulfa’s story begins in the midst of an outbreak of violence in her hometown in Syria, which caused her to flee her home with her family and leave her whole life behind.
The family, alongside a number of their neighbours, began to feel safe again and decided to return to their homes – a truck organised to return them to their farms. It was on that journey that a plane flew overhead and sprayed the vehicle with bullets - killing Khulfa’s niece, sister and her four year old grandson. 63 year old Khulfa escaped with her life, but with severe injuries to her arms and legs.
Khulfa was admitted to the Aman centre on 5 June, 2014 along with her last surviving daughter. As with so many other Syrian refugees, Khulfa was frightened at first and would not adhere to the advice of the medical staff.
However, with determination and compassion, International Medical Corps’ medical team managed to gain her trust and day by day her condition started to improve.
Two months and many physiotherapy sessions later, Khulfa surprised everybody when she walked into the activity room all by herself and with a big smile on her face.
Fatima Shawagfeh, International Medical Corps’ Programmes Officer in Jordan remembers Khulfa as an inspiration to staff and patients alike.
“We are grateful for what she brought to the centre.
“Khulfa was the definition of what it means to not only survive, but to come out on the other side stronger than before.”
*International Medical Corps has been operating a rehabilitation centre in the Mafraq Governorate, Jordan, in collaboration with AMAN Jordanian Association and with support from European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO).
Through this centre International Medical Corps has been able to provide curative and preventive primary health care, community linkages, post-operative rehabilitation care and mental health and psychosocial support services to Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians.
In addition, International Medical Corps has also been providing comprehensive mental health and psychosocial case management services to individuals with various and complex needs through the delivery of home-based and outreach activities, thus strengthening families’ ability to develop and maintain healthy coping mechanisms in the ongoing conflict.