The war in Syria, now in its seventh year, has left many physical and mental scars in their wake. Lost limbs are a particularly common problem due to the use of improvised explosive devices and mines. Many displaced people escaping siege conditions find themselves victims of such devices. Acquiring prosthetic limbs is often a long, difficult and expensive endeavour. One displaced Syrian, Hussam from Homs, has recognised the problem this causes and took steps to alleviate the suffering of his fellow Syrians.
A resident of the Old City of Homs, Hussam was displaced in 2014 and subsequently injured. During his treatment, he saw many people who had lost limbs or were in need of crutches and splints. Many of them were forced to wait for such devices to be delivered from Lebanon. The process took a long time and got more expensive with each checkpoint.
Hussam, who used to work as a maker of fibreglass moulds, realised that his expertise could be useful and opened a small workshop, using everyday materials and easily available plastics to make casts, crutches, prosthetic limbs and splints. He works in cooperation with local hospitals who commission him for the items. A patient who would normally require a limb costing in the range of $5000 can have one done by Hussam for a small fraction of that cost.
Hussam laments that his small workshop hasn’t gotten much attention and support, noting that with more support, he would be able to reach a bigger pool of people who need help. He is not wrong: Across Syria, physiotherapy centres have opened to treat the steadily-growing numbers of people who have been left disabled in the wake of conflict. These people and facilities are often forced to contend balancing rising expenses with the need to treat an increasing number of patients. The services offered by Hussam could help many more Syrians.