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Thanks to HI, Samira is confident and making plans for the future


Rehabilitation | Central African Republic | PUBLISHED ON April 4th 2024
A teenager is standing in front of the HI rehabilitation room, she's smiling and shows off her prosthesis.

February 2024, Bambari. Samira standing in front of the HI rehabilitation room. | © E. Beyarandia / HI

Samira, now a teenager, lost her leg when she was 9 as the result of a bullet wound. Thanks to HI, she can now stand on her own two feet again and is confidently looking to the future.

Samira Bechar is 16 years old. She lives with her parents and four younger brothers in Yppi, a small town around a hundred kilometres from Bambari in the Central African Republic. Samira’s leg was amputated after she received a bullet wound in an attack by armed groups several years ago. After the operation, she met HI’s teams who would support her in this new chapter of her life.

When violence takes everything 

Samira remembers the exact date on which her life changed forever: 3 December 2017. She was just 9 years old when armed groups attacked the town of Yppi, where she lives with her family. She remembers the panic, people running in all directions to escape the violence. Her parents were fleeing too. She was running alongside them when suddenly she fell to the ground. She had been shot in the left leg. Her father and some of his friends rushed to pick her up and carry her to safety. Three days and 113 kilometres later, they arrived at Bambari regional hospital where Samira was at last able to get medical help.

"After some initial treatment, the doctors decided to operate and amputate my left leg. In just a few minutes, I saw my leg disappear and I've cursed that day ever since... I felt like I was in another world. I realised that I might not live long or be able to fulfil my dreams. I thought about death all the time. I was desperate, devastated, and I lost all interest", says Samira.

As well as her own reaction, Samira had to deal with the reactions of those around her. She tells us how difficult the ordeal was for her mother to cope with, and that her little brothers didn't eat for a few days; they all thought she was going to die. But her father was there for everyone, lifting his family's spirits and helping them through.

A chance but defining encounter at the hospital

Today, Samira says she is doing very well and is "very happy to see her HI uncles again"! She first met HI’s teams when they were running an awareness-raising activity on physical and functional rehabilitation at Bambari hospital. A member of the team saw her pass by and asked her if she knew anything about HI's activities. When she said no, the HI specialist asked her if it would be possible to meet with her parents to explain how they could help her. So Amira arranged a visit to her home…

Samira has since benefited from comprehensive support from HI. She has attended rehabilitation sessions, been fitted with a prosthesis and has also received mental health and psychosocial support. She has noticed a change in her mindset since receiving her prosthesis and learning to walk again with it.

"I often get feelings of guilt, especially when I look at my friends in the neighbourhood who still have all their limbs intact. Sometimes I feel a bit like I’m a 'lesser' person, but it's getting better all the time," says Samira.

Learning to cope with the help of mental health support

Samira says she got on very well with the HI teams. Her favourite activities were the mental health and psychosocial support activities because the atmosphere was good and there were lots of jokes and games. In particular, she remembers the advice that the HI teams gave her when she began working with them:

"One day, they told me that what happened to me was not the end of my life.  I also saw pictures of people with disabilities working and achieving a lot. We were told stories of children with disabilities who were making a success of their lives. I felt good and relieved. Those were unforgettable moments."

According to Samira, those experiences with HI marked a turning point in her life. It was the moment she became a new person.

School, the key to Samira's future

At the moment, everything is going well for Samira. At home, her brothers and parents are happy for her, and at school her friends are gradually coming round, some because they are curious about her prosthesis and others because they can see that she has her leg back and that they can play together again.

"I want to thank HI for its support. And to any other girls in my situation, I want to tell them not to feel discouraged. We are all equal, there is still hope," concludes Samira.

Samira knows that her life will change in other ways, that she won't be able to run like everyone else and that it will be more difficult for her to perform certain tasks, but she is optimistic and hopeful that things will turn out well for her. What she wants most is to continue her studies. She wants to succeed at school and earn a living. She is also planning to set up an association to support people with disabilities.

Her father, Martial, is also optimistic. At home, he and his wife continue to apply the advice given to them by HI’s teams to help Samira as best they can. He has noticed that his daughter has become much more positive:  

"It makes us very happy. It wasn't easy for my daughter or for us, but now we feel things are good. My daughter really loves school. I'll help her to pursue her studies." 

Martial’s advice for the parents of children with disabilities is to seek help from specialised services. He is convinced that it is crucial to encourage parents to look beyond their children’s disability - because they too have the potential to succeed.

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