Born without legs, Syrian refugee girl walks again with Turkish help

TÜLAY CANBOLAT
ANKARA
Published 06.11.2018 23:24
Updated 06.11.2018 23:25

Eight-year-old Syrian Maya Meri, whose heart-wrenching photos showing her with tin cans strapped to her knees made headlines months ago, is now able to walk with brand-new prosthetic legs. Aided by an Istanbul-based prosthetic manufacturing company, Maya Meri was fitted with new legs, along with her father Mohammed Meri, who both suffer from congenital deformities.

The young girl and her family had been living in a refugee camp in war-torn Syria's Idlib since fleeing their hometown Aleppo. Her father came up with the idea of building a pair of prosthetic legs on his own as the family could not afford the real ones. He filled two cans with cotton, scraps of cloth and wrapped them with plastic pipes for a makeshift pair of prosthetic legs, allowing his daughter to move around. After her pictures went viral on social media, Turkish people flooded charities with messages asking how to contact Maya for her treatment. The Turkish Red Crescent ultimately brought the girl to Turkey, where she was able to receive prosthetic legs.

After four months of treatment, both Maya and her father are now able to walk without support thanks to their new artificial limbs. Maya now even sports the pink shoes she always dreamed of wearing."People came to Syria and took photos and videos of Syrians suffering, but nobody helped us. Turkey found my family in an old tent I lived with my three kids. Turks gave us legs we stopped dreaming about," Mohammed Meri says. "I am speechless. I can walk along with my daughter. I couldn't work for years to earn a living for my family and now I can. I can go anywhere I want now. Turkey became hope for us," he said.

Maya Meri says she wanted to play with her friends. "I used to see them playing outside, but I couldn't go. I would crawl to go near them," she recalled. "Turkey gave me legs and saved us from the war. The tin cans hurt me a lot, but I love my new legs. My hands don't hurt any more too [because of having to crawl]," she said. Maya now looks forward to attending a new school in Turkey.

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