Ibrahaim, Ismael, and Basel Refuge through Brotherhood

Ibrahim has been living in Amman for two years since he first took on the incredibly difficult journey from Alghoutah to Jordan. At 12 years old, he had to brave the hot and hostile stretch of desert with his father before they finally reached the Za’taari refugee camp in 2014. His leg had been seriously wounded after an arbitrary detonation that caused shrapnel to shred his skin and the delicate lacework of nerves in this part of his body. The journey to Jordan caused further damage and inflammation to the wounds in Ibrahim’s leg, and doctors posited that he would never regain the use of this limb. The period of time spent crossing and in the camp was the most difficult for him to go through, but he proudly frames this as an obstacle he has overcome. The difficulty and uncertainty structuring that environment was relieved by their departure from the camp and Ibrahim’s introduction the center. The peals of laughter that periodically ring through the three-story estate emanate from the room he shares with two other boys. Being in the center has allowed him to meet other young refugees facing similar circumstances, and together these young boys are rooting themselves firmly in Jordan alongside and through one another.

Ibrahaim is optimistic and excited for his future, one which he aspires to be structured by the continued pursuit of education. His genuine zeal for learning heralds a continued path towards altruistic excellence. He wanted to use his interview to impart a message of gratitude towards the center for “giving him his life back.” His sense of gratitude for his good fortune seems to sharpen his sense of urgency that other Syrians have the opportunity to reclaim their lives as well. His plea that everyone pay attention to what is happening in Syria and extend assistance to those that are still struggling under the frenzied collapse of his homeland is equal parts heartfelt and heartbreaking. Since the time of his interview, he and his father were resettled in Canada, allowing him the stability and freedom to make these dreams a reality.

We have so much fun here. Whenever there is school we go to school. We have a teacher that we learn a lot from and she helps us with our homework. And after that we play together and we have so much fun.

I’d like to thank the center for helping me to get my life back and to have the chance to tell the world what is happening in Syria, and of course everyone knows what is happening now. And I hope that they can have something to offer to help Syrians.

I

Ismael

Ismael has been living at Souriyat center for 9 months. He was injured from a bomb blast and was brought to Jordan because of the nerve that was shredded in his leg by mercilessly blind work of shrapnel and flying shards of glass. When he first came to the center, he was unable to move for two months and couldn’t walk or play with the other boys. He was brought to the center and started undergoing physical therapy to regain his ability to walk. He speaks about his hardship with a maturity beyond his years, one that reflects the accelerated aging that is often a legacy of confronting a crisis in childhood. For Ismael and the other children in the center, adjusting to life in Jordan necessitates adapting to a foreign country and a foreign body. In relearning the mechanics of their bodies and working tirelessly to push their corporeal capacities further and further. He has largely regained his ability to walk and is happy to have

It was God’s will and it’s okay with me. I’m coping with it. I have everything I need. Praise be to God.

My hope is that Syria is liberated in the future so that we can go back and rebuild it.

Basel is a spritely ten year old with an unapologetic love for adventure. On a typical day in the center, you can turn almost any corner and find Basel there. He’ll goad you into competing against him in foosball or racing-- always with an impish smile that makes you feel as if you’ve already been beaten. The best outlet for him to release the gargantuan energy confined within the corporeal confines of his body is through swimming. In water, Basel moves with the enchanting fluidity of a fish with an inhuman stamina that is inextricably linked with his joy in these moments.

Basel wants to train for the Paralympics as a swimmer, a goal that is endorsed by the support of everyone at the center who have seen Basel achieve countless victories over the last two years. He came to Jordan in August of 2014, initially accompanied by his mother. He and his friend had been playing together in Dara’a. The buoyancy of childhood was a sort of respite from the horrors of the war that had begun three years prior in their home city. In a cataclysmic turn of events, Basel’s friend unknowingly stepped on an unexploded piece of artillery. The accidental contact disrupted the bomb and it exploded, killing Basel’s friend and maiming Basel.

Only a few miles across the border lay the Jordanian village of Ramtha where MSF hospitals and other facilities were prepared to handle a case as serious as Basel’s. The initial impact of the blast had claimed his hand and destroyed Basel’s legs, forcing doctors in Ramtha to amputate his legs. Basel remembers the pain from the amputation being the most harrowing part of his experience.

It was a lot of pain but the nerve pain was like being electrocuted.

When I used to cry from the pain it was helpful for me to speak with the shrink and she would check in and see how I was doing.

I was feeling disabled. But I always thought that in the near future I would become better and this kind of thinking helped me. Thank God for everything.

The doctors would try to hang out with me and speak with me but having my mother with me was the best part of it.

Day by day when she would sit with me as I was becoming better we became closer and then I became more dependent on myself.

Though he found it helpful to speak with a psychologist sometimes, Basel’s greatest source of comfort during this time was his mother. Though she had crossed the border with him, she eventually had to make the profoundly difficult decision to return to Syria once Basel’s condition had stabilized. Fortunately, Basel’s aunt lived in Jordan and was able to take care of him when he had to leave the hospital. However, Basel still needed considerable treatment and assistance. After hearing about the physical therapy that was offered at the center, Basel and his aunt visited. He was enamored with the opportunities for play and physiotherapy and has taken up residence here since then.

In the center they always make me happy -- Once we took a trip two months ago and I had so much fun. We swam and played and had fun with everyone, singing and dancing.

Basel says that the whole experience has made him more independent. It also has ignited a passion to help others. He takes responsibility for the wellbeing of the older boys in the center, often times coaching others in English class or feeding one of his friends who is sometimes too weak to accomplish this on his own. Basel’s dreams for the future include being a doctor or a pianist, torn between a love for piano and a desire to help those with bone problems. No matter what Basel will be, it is certain he will be unlike any other.

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