World, Middle East

Syrian father holds on to life despite losing leg

'If there comes a day where I will lose a hand, I will still find something to do,' says father of five

Meryem Goktas   | 19.04.2019
Syrian father holds on to life despite losing leg Syrian Rabeh Selim arrives at home after closing his shop in the northern Syrian city of Al-Bab. Despite losing his leg in the ongoing conflict in Syria, a father of five continues to hold on to life to provide for his family. ( Meryem Goktas - Anadolu Agency )

ANKARA, Turkey / AL-BAB, Syria

Despite losing his leg in the ongoing conflict in Syria, a father of five continues to hold on to life to provide for his family. 

Speaking to Anadolu Agency in the northern Syrian city of Al-Bab, Rabeh Selim said: “After I lost my leg I had to find myself a new profession, a profession I could do with my hands to look after my family.”

He decided to repair television sets and opened a shop in the city.

Selim, an electrical engineer, was working in a power plant before the war started. He was forced to leave his hometown Tadmur (ancient Palmyra) in Syria’s western Homs province four years ago, he said.

“I lost my right leg in an airstrike by the Bashar al-Assad regime while I was repairing a generator in Tadmur,” he said.

At first, he was afraid his children would see him differently.

“The fact that I lost one leg never made me feel disabled, my children also never saw me that way which was a big relief,” he said.

“If there comes a day where I will lose a hand, I will still find something to do, I will stay strong as I have a family which I have to look after,” he added.

Some 1.5 million people in Syria are now living with permanent impairment, including 86,000 people who have lost limbs, according to the UN.

Hundreds and thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, the UN says, in a devastating conflict since 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected severity.


Life under war


Selim said that leaving his home and uncertainty about the future of his children are his main concerns.

“War is terrible, bloody, it ends with death, tears and forced displacement,” he said.

The war has taken away many family members and his properties.

“My best days were before the war started. We were safe and happy, had job opportunities and could go wherever we wanted,” he said.

Three of his children were born before the war started, he said, stating that he was able to cater to all their needs. Two others were born after 2011, when hard luck had struck.

He said that when schools reopened in Al-Bab, his children started attending classes, but that this was not enough for their education.

“What I fear the most is the future of my children because there is no safety,” he said.

“I don't want to stay in Syria because my wife and I were raised in a very beautiful way by our families and I would like to raise my children the same way,” he said.

“I live today to provide for tomorrow, but I cannot think further than this, we have no hope for a future in Syria,” he added.


Supporting others


Selim said that despite his struggle, he continues to support displaced families from his hometown.

“I visit different charities and shop owners to ask help for the people of Tadmur. I try my best to cover their needs,” he said.

Some 800 families from Tadmur are living in Al-Bab, out of which 200 are in need of immediate help.

“I am helping the people of Tadmur, because when I lost my leg, they mobilized for me and helped me a lot, I am grateful for what they did. They gave me a lot of psychological support during that time,” he added.

Selim called for an end to war in Syria.

“My expectation is for this war to end, our expectation is to get stability in the region, but it looks like it is not going to happen any time soon,” he said.

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