While in Syria at just 14 years old, Adnan was shot in the spine while going to pick up bread, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. For four years, he languished, depressed, barely venturing out, unable to see a future for himself. With physical therapy and other support provided by INARA, he learned to live independently and participated in the Beirut marathon, which led to him partaking in the Barcelona marathon. Adnan now resides in Spain and trains relentlessly. He relishes new challenges, even recently taking up rock climbing. And although he says that pain is a constant factor in his life, he uses it to drive himself towards his goal: competing in the next Paralympic Games as a handbike cyclist.

Adnan and INARA

Adnan was just 14 years old when he was hit by a sniper robbing him of the thing we all take for granted: Walking.  He’d left his family home to buy bread for his parents and younger sisters when a sniper, aiming to kill, shot him in the back.

The bullet narrowly missed his heart, but was lodged in his spinal cord, paralyzing him. As he lay bleeding, the sniper continued to fire at anybody who tried to approach Adnan – to prevent them from helping him.

After a few hours, his father was finally able to get to him. He rushed him to paramedics who cleaned the wound, but they were not able to get him to a hospital until the following day. Adnan was in a critical condition; his father had no choice left. He had to smuggle him out of the country and into Lebanon.

By the time they reached Lebanon a few days later, the bullet wound had become infected, and Adnan fell ill. He was seen by an infectious disease specialist, covered by an NGO for a year and a half before the infection cleared and he regained the use of his arms.

The same NGO provided him with a standing wheelchair, but withdrew their financial support after a year of physiotherapy. The family was unable to afford physiotherapy.

By the time Adnan was referred to us by his friend and fellow INARA patient, Alaa, the period in which the paralysis could be reversed had passed. But what we could do was provide him with intensive physiotherapy to restore some mobility. INARA bought special standing assistance technology which are strapped to his legs and support his waist to help him stand. The purpose of the physiotherapy was to strengthen his upper body so that he could live a more independent life.

This is exactly what we were able to offer him. Adnan regained his will to live, to continue, and to make a future for himself. He put his all into training every day to regain the strength he needed. With all the setbacks he went through in his life, he participated in the Beirut Marathon’s 10KM Special Needs Race and won 3rd place! He also participated in the Barcelona Marathon, taking all the challenging races with optimism and a determined look on his face. Adnan wants his condition to inspire people around him.

He is the person all children impacted by conflict need to hear about, to know that they too can do amazing things in their lives, no matter their painful past or the losses they have gone through along the way!

Adnan in a video produced by INARA in 2016