No, There's No Elevator

No, There's No Elevator

Publication info

Laura Sheahen

“Is there an elevator ?” I’m pretty sure I know the answer to this question before I ask Hanadi, a wheelchair-bound Syrian refugee in her late twenties. She lives with relatives in a multistory apartment building in a poor area of northern Jordan—specifically, on the fourth floor. Unlike thousands of Syrians who have been wounded and permanently disabled during the country’s civil war, Hanadi’s leg problems have been with her since childhood. But the challenges are the same. Right now they take the shape of 60-odd steps between her and the rest of the world.

“No, there’s no elevator.” Hanadi uses her hands to crawl down the stairs and drag herself up them several times a week.

She and her family left Syria in August 2012. “There were so many bombs. So many people died,” she says. “We moved from place to place, trying to find somewhere safe. Then there was none.” Moving from place to place is hard enough when you can walk, and when bombs aren’t falling. Once the family reached Jordan, Hanadi was safe, but her problems weren’t over. For a while, they lived in a refugee camp with communal latrines that were difficult for a person in a wheelchair. There were other problems, too.

Life in Refuge - Syria Crisis

Syrian refugees face some specific health issues—gunshot wounds, severe burns from bomb blasts, amputations, and other war injuries. Many were unable to obtain immediate medical care in their country because roads were blocked and bombs were falling. The refugees also suffer from common ailments like high blood pressure. Though Jordan has provided free health care services for refugees, its facilities have been stretched to their limit. So finding and paying for medical care is a huge problem.

Seven-year-old Izeddin was always weak. After a bomb hit his family’s apartment in Syria and ceiling rubble struck him, he was unable to walk. He can move his feet, but has to scoot across the floor. Abdel Rahman, also 7, has a rare blood disease and needs transfusions every 21 days. Each transfusion costs 70 Jordanian dinars, about $100 US.

In Jordan, CARE is providing emergency cash grants to families with urgent needs, such as Izeddin’s widowed mother and Abdel Rahman’s parents. Syrian refugees can use the money for medicine, treatment or other priorities.  CARE also refers refugees to local organizations that provide medical care, often at low or no cost.

CARE is helping Hanadi’s family too. She and her relatives left the camp and keep moving, trying to find a cheaper apartment in Jordan. Each move has been hard on her. But miraculously, she stays cheerful. “We miss our home, our water, and peace,” says Hanadi. “But we came back from the dead. Today is better than that was.”