The conflict in Syria is a civil war which has raged for many long and painful years. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed, misplaced and maimed, while citizens of the country feel the full force of its brutal war.
When 8-year-old Maya was born without legs, her family assumed she’d never walk in her lifetime. Her parents resigned themselves to the fact that she would never be fully mobile. But where there’s a will there’s a way, and Maya soon showed the world the true meaning of the word determination…
War In Syria
Maya is an 8-year-old girl much like any other girl her age, but Maya is different. All she remembers is conflict and destruction since her country of birth has been in a state of war since she was born. Maya was particularly unlucky, as when she was born, she was born without legs.
Recently, radical groups like ISIL and other rebel factions have plunder Syria, rendering it virtually uninhabitable. With a war that has raged on for years, the people of Syria have suffered more than any nation should ever have to.
In 2017 alone, more than 10,000 Syrians were killed as a result of the conflict; most of them innocent civilians who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. On top of that, more than 600 political prisoners died from torture in 2012 in Syria, but by 2017, that number rose to anywhere between 5,000 and 13,000, according to Amnesty International.
This conflict grew out of discontent for the Assad government. His opposition has formed itself into various rebel forces and groups. The conflict is complex and bitter. Unfortunately for the Syrian people, it shows no signs of a quick resolution.
This conflict has plagued Maya’s country since birth. The widespread devastation rendered her parents increasingly unable to seek out the medical facilities necessary to treat their daughter. Maya was unlucky to be born without legs, but perhaps twice as unlucky to be born in the middle of such civil unrest…
As Maya never had legs, she didn’t know what it was like to walk. She got around mainly by crawling. However, one botched surgery meant to make her leg stubs shorter, actually made getting around for Maya even more of a struggle. That’s when this special young girl and her family decided to take matters into their own hands…
When Maya’s father posted pictures of his daughter online, there was a global outpouring of sympathy. When people across the globe saw how Maya had tried to build her own legs, they sent messages of support and even money to help her to obtain real prosthetic limbs.
Maya and her father gathered together some plastic tubing, sticking empty tuna cans to it in order to fashion some makeshift legs for Maya. When people saw that they sent money so that Maya could travel the short distance to neighboring Turkey to have proper legs fitted…
One Righteous Man
The surgeon in Turkey was so touched by Maya’s story that he confirmed he would do the operation for free, and won’t even accept donations from people. He said that he will be honored to bear the related costs himself, making this story of generosity and hope even more special.
Mr Merdi is himself wheelchair-bound, as many of his family members suffer from genetic issues. He explained a little about what him and especially Maya went through, “After the operation, she was not able to move around and was sitting the whole time in a tent,” he said, then explaining how they fashioned legs for Maya…
There’s no question that the Merdis are creative people. “In order for her to move out of the tent, I had the idea to fix on her limbs tubing stuffed with a spongy material to reduce the pressure.” Said Maya’s father, adding, “Then I added two empty cans of tuna because the plastic was not strong enough to resist the friction with the ground.”
Once a Month
Merdi explained that at least once a month he would replace the plastic tubing that was Maya’s legs, and would replace the tin cans, which got badly worn, roughly once a week. While the whole set up was far from ideal, Maya was able to get around and even to attend the summer camp at her school…
No parent wants to see their child in the situation that Maya finds herself in. “My heart suffers when I see her crawling in front of friends, while they play and run,” said Mr Merhi, knowing that his daughter needed a more permanent solution for her issues.
Maya Will Walk
Dr. Mehmet Zeki Culcu, the prosthetics specialist who is giving Maya legs, free of charge, said to reporters, “Maya will walk. God willing, in three months’ time.” And while she will need some time to get used to her new legs, it’s highly likely that Maya will be able to walk, almost like any other kid, when all is said and done…
Wanting The Best
While Maya inherited the same genetic defect as her father, Mr Merdi said it was his priority to get legs made for his daughter before he deals with his own situation. “It would be like a new life for us,” he said, “I dream of seeing her walk, going to school and back without suffering.”
Power Of Internet
It needs to be noted that it’s only the gargantuan power of the internet and social media that made getting Maya new legs even possible. If it wasn’t for the global outpouring of sympathy and demands from strangers for something to be done for little Maya, she would probably still be walking on tin cans…
Showing Real Love
Dr. Culcu was horrified when he saw the makeshift legs that Maya and her father had made. He said he was personally “very touched” by the photographs of Maya walking on tuna cans, “We have been contacted by people all over the world who want to make the donation. But this issue is closed and I will take on the cost,” he said.
In any event, according to Culcu, the tin cans and plastic tubes were a good thing in a way, as they will have prepared Maya and almost “trained” her for the real deal. “We can’t really call what she has prosthetics,” Dr Culcu said, excited to be able to help this little girl in the way she needs to be helped.
Energy Of Desperation
Dr Culcu spoke about that fact that the Merdis are a great example of how suffering can transform into hope with the right resources, “It’s a kind of makeshift system for her to walk. With the energy of desperation, without any means, her father turned that suffering into hope.” He concluded.
Hope For The Future
While Maya is set to be up and walking right about now, the road ahead for her is a difficult one. She joins thousands of other Syrian children who have had their lives impacted and negatively affected by a conflict that doesn’t seem to be abating anytime soon, and in many regions is only getting worse.