Promoting dignity and independence: you’re supporting Syrian refugees with special needs

Mushrab is one of many Syrian refugees living in the governorates of northern Jordan. He fled to Jordan with his wife, two brothers and sister in March 2013. Mushrab’s mother and the rest of his family stayed in Syria. They try and stay in touch regularly, but it’s hard, he says.

Mushrab chats with CLWR and Lutheran World Federation staff members. Mushrab lost one of his legs in a childhood accident. After becoming a refugee, he had to rely on others to help him use the washroom because accessible facilities aren't readily available in camps and settlements. The installation of a proper toilet, provided with the support of Canadian Lutherans, has helped him regain his independence. CLWR/H.Pryse

Mushrab chats with CLWR and Lutheran World Federation staff members. Mushrab lost one of his legs in a childhood accident. After becoming a refugee, he had to rely on others to help him use the washroom because accessible facilities aren’t readily available in camps and settlements. The installation of a proper toilet, provided with the support of Canadian Lutherans, has helped him regain his independence. CLWR/H.Pryse

When he fled Syria, he left behind his home and his successful job in real estate. He tells me how he misses his work and that the days feel very long in Jordan. Syrians are not able to legally work in Jordan and even if they were, Mushrab would struggle to find new work. As a child, he suffered from a serious accident that left him physically disabled − his one leg had to be completely removed and he needs crutches to move around.

When he and his family left Syria they first travelled to the Za’atari refugee camp. “It was a tragic life there, very difficult to cope and live there,” Mushrab said. In Za’atari camp there is limited support available for people with physical disabilities.

Mushrab explained that in Za’atari, he had to ask someone to escort him to the latrines because the facilities were not appropriate for someone with a physical disability. He told me that he would refuse to eat, to prevent himself from having to use the toilets in the camp.

Things have changed for Mushrab since he left Zaatari. He and his wife have now settled in the city of Mafraq, and are benefiting from the support provided by Canadian Lutherans. With support from CLWR, the Lutheran World Federation is providing families in Mafraq with hygiene kits that include toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, and cleaning detergent, among other items. They also provide clean clothing, mattress covers and summer sheets, so that people can stay clean and dry during the sweltering summer months.

Mushrab's wife was also present to greet CLWR and LWF staff members. CLWR/R.Granke

Mushrab’s wife was also present to greet CLWR and LWF staff members. CLWR/R.Granke

What has meant the most to Mushrab? Canadian Lutherans also supported upgrades to improve sanitation facilities in homes and Mushrab’s house has been equipped with a new, sit down, flushable toilet.  He tells us that it has made all the difference. He no longer has to ask people to help him use the toilets. Mushrab is sincerely grateful for the support provided by Canadian Lutheran World Relief. It has helped him to regain his dignity and independence.

The new toilet for Mushrab and his family. CLWR/H.Pryse

The new toilet for Mushrab and his family. CLWR/H.Pryse

I asked Mushrab what his hopes are for the future.

“Every Syrian dreams to go back to their home, but I don’t think that’s possible now..at least not anytime soon.”

There is a huge rebuilding process that will need to take place in Syria once peace is established. For many Syrian refugees like Mushrab, they hope to emigrate and start a new life in Europe or North America, but they dream for peace in Syria so that they can one day return to their home.

by Heather Pryse, Program Officer for CLWR

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