Taha and the wheelchair.. a journey of displacement

Helin Ali

Photo: Helin Ali

Two years before the Turkish attack on Serê Kaniyê (Ras Al-Ain) and its countryside, the child, “Taha Abdul Hay” was infected with the poliomyelitis virus. When he became ten years old, he had been ill for three years, before he and his brothers and parents had to flee to a camp in the countryside of the city of Dêrik, leaving behind their city which was attacked by the Turkish army and its Syrian opposition factions, and their house, which was destroyed by an air strike by Turkish aircraft.

“The displacement that accompanied the loss of the home was the first and most severe loss for Taha and his brothers, since the start of the military operation, and the second loss; was the loss of safety”, says Khalidiya Talib, 50, the mother of Taha.

 The attacks by the Turkish army on the north-eastern regions of Syria have caused the displacement of thousands of residents of the occupied cities of Serê Kaniyê (Ras Al-Ain) and Girê Sipî (Tel Abyad). Among the displaced people, thousands of children who only knew the tragedies of displacement, the lack of access to vital services, and the loss of security and peace, in addition to low level of their education, if they could get it.

Disease and tragedies did not prevent “Taha”, who moves in a wheelchair, from completing his primary education with the children of “Newroz Camp”, and thanks to his mother’s encouragement of the necessity to adhere to the school time “even in the most difficult circumstances”, the child “Taha” was able to excel in his studies, but that his health was slowly getting worse with the bad living conditions of the family, who could no longer provide the necessary medicines for him, especially after several organizations stopped providing the necessary supplies to them, and their care was limited to the Kurdish Red Crescent centers, which also suffer from a shortage of necessary equipment and medicines, especially for children with special needs.

Photo: Helin Ali

“Here he is the wheelchair has become our companion on displacement trips, I never imagined that he would come with us to this place”, Taha’s mother tells SHAR Magazine as she tries to tell the story of her child who exhausted disease and the displacement of his body and family.

“Taha” was paralyzed by a fever that his body could not tolerate when he was seven years old, as a result of which he lost the ability to walk completely, but there was hope that he would improve with the continuation of treatment and continuing medical devices and the instructions of the doctors who told me that my child is smart and absorbed more than his age However, the circumstances of the war prevented him from having opportunities to address it”, says Khalidiya his mother.

“The bombs were falling on Serê Kaniyê without knowing where it came from, we left the city under the fire of shells and warplanes, we take turns carrying “Taha” over our shoulders, until we reached one of the points of the Internal Security Forces, and from there we moved several times to separate places in the city Qamishlo, until we stopped in Newroz camp”, she added. “The displacement route, especially if you had a child with special needs, was full of difficulties and dangers, but survival was not possible, especially after a raid from the Turkish Air Force targeted our house after we got out of it, the matter is very difficult and sad when we see our city and our house is being destroyed infront our eyes, and we are unable to do anything.

Taha has been staying with his family, since last October of 2019, in Newroz camp near the city of Dêrik, their father who is 50 years old, works as a porter at a daily wage, does not exceed 3000 Syrian pounds, and his intermittent work and aid he gets, which meets a small part of his family’s expenses and needs, especially after the collapse of the value of the Syrian pound against foreign currencies, accompanied by a sharp increase in food prices.

Khalidiya Talib assures that her child “needs surgery for his feet, and is required by medical devices and physical and functional therapy sessions to receive in Damascus”, all at a very high cost that they cannot provide.

“It is not important what I suffer from the hardship of displacement and living under the tents of deprivation, tents of disease and poverty, as much as the case of my son who suffers from paralysis in his legs and my inability to secure the expense of his treatment costs me, how can I be appy, while he can not walk and run with other kids, I’m not giving up, I’m still hopeful. May God make us a way out of this crisis. All I wish for is a treatment for my child”, she says as she wipes her tears.

Photo: Helin Ali

In addition to the assistance that Taha’s family needs, but like thousands of other families from the occupied city of Serê Kaniyê and Girê Sipî, they live in difficult living conditions in the camps and shelters inside the regions of northern and eastern Syria, barely protecting them from the summer heat and the cold of winter.

The war goes on and leaves many victims behind, but its effects are more severe for children, especially those suffering from the disease, except for having lost their first towns and places of play, because they do not understand the cruel world of adults. Dreams seem almost distant from children, but they are not impossible, I said that in my own mind, as I turn my back on Newroz camp, and my thinking about the child Taha, hoping that he will win a treatment that gives him the ability to walk again, and leave his childhood to a future that he makes.