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Tuesday 6 June 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Irish aid worker David Adams visited a clinic that helps to rehabilitate some of the casualties of the Syrian conflict.

I VISITED A clinic that helps rehabilitate some of the casualties of the conflict in Syria.

It is best if I do not identify the clinic or its location.

I was shown around and introduced to patients by Braa. She and her colleagues are amazing, as are many of those in their care.

A sniper shot him as he played football

Young Ahmed (11) greets me with a smile. One would never guess what he has been through, or the struggle he faces every day.

Six months ago, he and a friend were playing football in a rural part of Syria when a sniper from a politically-opposed, neighbouring village fired a single shot at him.

The bullet struck him below the left eye, and lodged at the top of his spinal cord. Initially Ahmed was paralysed from the neck down, but after months of daily physiotherapy he is now able to move his arms and hands.

He hopes the rigorous exercise routine that he endures every day will eventually lead to him regaining movement and feeling in the rest of his body.

‘I’m lucky to be alive’

Mustapha (21) was in a car with a friend when it was hit by a rocket. He lost both legs and his left hand. He also sustained permanent damage to his left eye.

His friend died instantly.

“I’m lucky to be alive,” he told me, with a smile. Fully realising that he was stating the obvious.

'Children are being targeted by snipers and civilians shot in the street'
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  • Mustapha

  • Youssef A

  • Braa

  • Youssef K

Shot in the back as he walked home from Friday prayers

Youssef A (20) and Youssef K (35) share a room at the clinic. Unfortunately, shared living space and the same first name are not all they have in common.

Each suffered gunshot wounds (in separate incidents) and as a result is paralysed from the waist down.

Youssef A, a single man, was shot four times in the upper body as he took part in a demonstration. One of the bullets shattered his spinal cord. Two of his companions, one of them a close relative, were killed in the incident

Youssef K, married with four children, was shot once in the back as he was walking home from Friday prayers.

“My wife and children survive on handouts from our friends and relatives,” Youssef K tells me.

Speaking of the clinic’s workload, Braa tells us: “Every day, new admissions. Many injuries. Difficult and different injuries. Amputations, spinal cord injury…”.

There is no reason to think that the clinic’s workload will be lessening any time soon.

David Adams is an aid worker with GOAL, who have been working inside Syria since 2012. GOAL employs more than 350 staff in Syria, who are delivering aid to around 700,000 people every month. Their programmes include bakeries, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), food hampers, redeemable vouchers, and various non-food items.

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