A Year After the Quake: Reflections on Loss, Recovery, and Resilience “Mays’ Courageous Journey to Healing”

Mays: A Tale of Hope and Resilience Amidst Tragedy

In the wake of a devastating earthquake that shook southern Türkiye and northwestern Syria to their core, one story of survival stands out amidst the rubble – the miraculous tale of Mays, a young girl who defied the odds and emerged from the darkness into the light of hope.

“A minute and a half altered the trajectory of our lives entirely. It’s been a year since the earthquake struck, yet its lingering effects persist” reflects Aqaba Al-Haddad (38), embracing his 4-year-old niece, Mays Al-Haddad.

Recounting the catastrophic event, he describes it as a nightmarish ordeal. “After 72 hours of relentless search through the rubble of the four-story building, rescuers reached the room where my mother and my brother’s family, including his wife and two children, were sheltering, only to find them deceased. On that fateful day, my brother and I embarked on our journey to work, striving to secure our livelihood. The arduous return to Armanaz consumed an entire day, the roads barricaded by the remnants of destroyed homes and congested with traffic bound for the afflicted areas. Our attempts to reach our families went unanswered, heightening our anxiety and panic, as we braced ourselves for the impending tragedy,” he said.

Mays Miraculously Survived!

“In the solemn aftermath of the earthquake, on the third day, we painstakingly freed my mother, my brother’s wife, and their daughter Maryam from the rubble’s grip. With heavy hearts, we tenderly laid Mays beside her departed sister, preparing them for their final rest. In the melancholic atmosphere enveloping us, a rescuer directed a beam of light onto Mays’ face as we braced for a shared fate. In a miraculous turn, Mays opened her eyes, eliciting a collective gasp of disbelief that gave way to tears of hope.” recounts Uqba.

Emergency services swiftly transported the child to Armanaz Surgical Hospital, operated by Hand in Hand for Aid and Development (HIHFAD) in collaboration with Malteser International and supported by the German Federal Foreign Office. Undergoing extensive tests and monitoring, Mays was diagnosed with herpes syndrome resulting from a rubble-induced foot injury, necessitating surgery at Aqrabat Hospital in northwestern Syria.

Over the course of seven surgeries and a challenging treatment journey, Mays’ father resumed work to cover the expenses, while her bond with her beloved cat became a source of solace amidst the trauma. Describing Mays’ psychological struggle post-disaster, her uncle emphasizes the need for both psychological support and physical therapy to aid her recovery.

Attending the Armanaz Physical Therapy Center, operated by Hand in Hand for Aid and Development and supported by Choose Love, Mays receives ongoing rehabilitation services tailored to her needs. As she progresses through four months of therapy, her determination and the expertise of the center’s physical therapists bring her closer to regaining mobility and independence. Reflecting on the importance of such facilities post-disaster, Mays’ uncle expresses gratitude for the center’s presence and the positive impact on his niece’s recovery. With hope for Mays’ full recovery and the restoration of affected lives, he emphasizes the collective need for continued treatment and support for all those impacted by the earthquake.

One year following the catastrophic earthquake, Mays and numerous other injured children continue to grapple with the lingering health and psychological repercussions of the disaster, compounded by challenges in accessing essential medical care and supplies. This tragedy underscored the critical importance of unified efforts and directed support towards medical facilities, which played a pivotal role in saving the lives of over 4.5 million individuals in northwestern Syria, including more than 2 million residing in camps, as reported by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Thus, the urgent imperative for both medical and psychological aid persists to provide crucial assistance to affected individuals and alleviate their suffering.