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Going the distance

19 August 2019, Impact of Our Work

Ryian* lost both of his legs in a blast that killed two of his cousins in Syria. 

When he woke from surgery, he wasn’t angry or sad. He was grateful, just to be alive.

At first, what he feared most was sympathy. “I didn’t want people to see me because I didn’t want them to pity me,” Ryian says. “I needed some time to feel better. I was desperate to the point that I even refused talking to my friends because I didn’t want anyone to pity me.”

After the blast, Ryian and his family fled Syria to safety in Jordan. They’ve since lived in Za’atari camp, home to more than 80,000 refugees. With support and drawing on his own mental strength, Ryian emerged from isolation and depression – forging new friendships, enjoying being back at school and starting life afresh.

Ryian attends Save the Children run workshops in Za’atari camp that provide psychosocial support designed to build resilience in children who have lived through traumatic experiences. The workshops are made possible because of support from people like you.

Jonathan Hyams / Save the Children

Ryian’s resilience and positivity are an inspiration to those around him.

“I realised that I could still accomplish things. I am now independent and free. I can do anything I want. I forget that I was even injured.”

When the camp held a long-distance race, Ryian was excited to enter. He trained with his brother to make sure he could go the distance. “I talked about it to my parents and they told me to go for it. I was able to do it in 15 min, and this is how I won 1st place. I even won the 2nd and 3rd places because I was way ahead of everyone else!”

Ryian is driven by the idea of being a role model to his peers. He wants them to see how far he has come by not giving up on his dreams.

“I encourage everyone to chase their dreams. Draw your goals on a piece of paper and stick it on the wall. Every time you go to sleep, look at it and say to yourself that you want to get there.

“My family, my friends and my dreams are what matter to me most in life.”

*Name changed to protect identity

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