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Prosthetic limbs give Lebanese new hope

China Daily | Updated: 2021-02-23 10:14

A technician installs an artificial leg for a victim of cluster bombs at a center launched by the Vision Association for Development Rehabilitation and Care in the Bekaa town of Lebanon, on Feb 20, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIRUT, Lebanon-Nihad Abou Dargham is a 60-year-old Lebanese who never imagined he would return to work at his farm after his leg was amputated three years ago when a cluster bomb exploded in a field in southern Lebanon.

His gloom persisted until a prosthetic leg was provided by the Vision Association for Development Rehabilitation and Care, a group of doctors and volunteers who specialized in the field of preparing, manufacturing and installing prosthetic limbs.

"Now I am free to walk without a cane. I will be able to return to my farm and raise my livestock again as this is my only source of living," Dargham said.

Samer Abdel Aal, who is in his 30s, and Nahla el-Basha, a 34-year-old Lebanese woman, both received artificial limbs with the help of the association and are happy about their new life.

"I will finally resume my work of pruning trees and farming fields in my town," Aal said.

Basha said she can finally shake hands and perform some simple tasks with her artificial hand.

Some 4.5 million cluster bombs were left by the Israeli army in southern Lebanon during a war between the two countries in July 2006. They have killed and wounded more than 1,000 Lebanese, including experts in mine clearance. They caused physical disabilities to about 4,000 others.

This has prompted the Lebanese association to launch an initiative to provide free physical therapy, prostheses and orthotic devices for the paralyzed and those whose limbs were amputated in the country.

Nasser Abu Latif, the association's president, said the initiative, which was launched on Saturday, was inspired by the deterioration of the economy due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the poverty that has affected a large proportion of Lebanese people, especially those with physical disabilities.

"This initiative aims at motivating victims of cluster bombs to integrate into their community and return to their work to generate income and make a living," Abu Latif said.

The ministries of public health and social affairs, Council for South Lebanon, and international supporters such as the International Rehabilitation Fund helped launch the initiative.

Rawad Ghachem, a member of the association who is in charge of installing prosthetic limbs, said helping people who were injured by cluster bombs has become an urgent matter given the psychological and social implications for the lifestyle of this group of people. "Artificial limbs will motivate injured people to return to work, especially when 98 percent of them are farmers and cattle herders."


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