Beneficiary Profile: Healing Through a Family’s Love in Za’atari

A dedicated and passionate Arabic teacher from Dara’a, Syria, Abdullah’s life changed dramatically on 12 March 2014 when his house was struck by a barrel bomb.

Shrapnel from the bomb led to paralysis and impaired his ability to speak. Abdullah’s survival depended on fleeing to Jordan as a war-wounded victim. Upon arriving in Jordan, he was hospitalized for three months until his condition stabilized. After being released from the hospital, he relied entirely on his aunt who took him into her home and looked after him for two years.  Before his injury, Abdullah was a zealous footballer and enjoyed spending his free time with family and friends and, in spite of the ongoing conflict, he was known for always finding the positive in challenging circumstances.

On 12 July 2016, he was brought to Za’atari Camp after his aunt found that she no longer had the resources to provide him with the care he needed.  After being left by his aunt at the camp, he fell into a deep despair and his optimism began to fade to hopelessness. Abdullah’s first contact at Za’atari Camp was with International Relief and Development (IRD) Social Workers at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Community Services Office. Without a caregiver and in need of around-the-clock care, IRD’s Social Workers dedicated nearly three days to providing critical care and support; developing a unique care plan which included support from fellow service providers at the Camp, coordination with other IRD component teams to ensure he received needed support, and the assignment of a permanent caregiver.

In September 2016, cooperation between IRD UNHCR enabled Abdullah to move into his own caravan. Modifications were made with the support of the IRD Maintenance team to meet all of his needs including a wheelchair accessible ramp to his caravan and zinc fencing for privacy. IRD Health Officers monitored Abdullah’s health, provided a medical bed to prevent bed sores and cared for him until his caregiver was identified. To ensure his privacy was safeguarded and that he was receiving the appropriate psychosocial support, IRD Social Workers conducted routine follow-up even after International Medical Corps (IMC) took over. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, mobility aid and a food mixer were all provided by Handicap International (HI).

IRD also successfully connected Abdullah with Abu Hassan, his caregiver. Abu Hassan and his family have just enough to cover their basic needs but they did not hesitate to welcome Abdullah into their family.

IRD and partners immediately noticed a change in Abdullah’s health. Since moving in with Abu Hassan, he has started lightly moving his limbs and has developed the ability to communicate using his fingers to express pain, feelings and to make requests. To help cover some of the increased expenses for Abu Hassan’s family as they take on the role of caregiver for Abdullah, IRD provides 150 Jordanian Dinars a month through the IRD “Caregiver Project” initiative.

After years of silence, Abdullah has started saying a few words such as the name of his caregiver’s son and Alhamdullilah which translates to “Praise be to God” in Arabic. Abu Hassan said about Abdullah, “He is a member of our family now. We will neither let him down nor let him go.”

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