‘Suffering into hope’

Young Syrian girl to receive treatment after photos of her using tin cans as prosthetic legs go viral

After photos of an 8-year-old Syrian girl navigating a refugee camp on artificial limbs constructed of plastic tubing and tin cans went viral, the youngster has been flown to Turkey where she will be equipped with real prosthetic legs free of charge.

Maya Merhi, 8, and her father Mohammad Merhi, 34, were both born without legs due to a disability known as congenital amputation. After the father and daughter fled the Syrian city of Aleppo along with Maya’s five siblings, the family was living in a refugee camp near Idlib. Like her father, Maya had been used to getting around by crawling but following a recent surgery was left unable to do so. So Mohammad, desperate to help his daughter, decided to improvise a solution so she wouldn’t be forcibly stuck “sitting the whole time in a tent.”

“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,” Mohammad explained. “I added two empty cans of tuna because the plastic was not strong enough to resist the friction with the ground.”

Remarkably, the makeshift prosthetics proved effective — even enabling Maya to attend the school at the refugee camp. But after photos of the young girl drew international attention, the father and daughter were sent to a clinic in Istanbul.

“Maya will walk, God willing, in three months time,” said her doctor, Mehmet Zeki Culcu, adding that he had personally decided to take on the costs of Maya’s new limbs after he was left “very touched” by both the girl’s perseverance and her father’s determination to help her.

“With the energy of desperation, without any means, her father turned that suffering into hope,” said Culcu.

Watch video of Maya below.

Read the full story at The Telegraph.


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