UPDATE: A Syrian child who had her legs amputated when she was born and became known across the world after video of her using makeshift tin can legs went viral, has been fitted for and received prosthetic legs in Istanbul.
Maya Merhi, 8, lived in Aleppo, Syria. She and her family fled that area during fighting, moving to rebel-controlled Idlib near the border with Turkey.
That’s when her video, which touched the heartstrings of millions of people around the world, went viral. Tin cans stood in for real prosthetic legs, which her dad constructed for her before the video was made.
“She was unable to walk so we had to create something for her to protect her from the ground,” her father, Mohammed Merhi, said.
This week, Maya got her first pair of prosthetic legs.
It will take around three months for Maya to get used to her new legs.
Still, the story of how this little girl, born in a war-torn country and given the opportunity to receive better medical treatment, should be inspiring and hopefully eye-opening to the rest of the world about the difficulties the people of that nation, including its refugees, are going through.
An 8-year-old Syrian girl living near the Turkish border walks around and goes to school wearing a pair of tin cans as her family can't afford to buy her prosthetic legs.
Maya Merhi, whose legs had to be amputated by doctors at birth, was photographed struggling on cans and plastic tubes as prosthetic limbs. These were made by her father Mohammad Merhi, 34, who shares the same congenital illness as her.
He also suffers from a walking disability.
Maya used to live in a refugee camp for displaced people in the Idlib region of northern Syria, after their family was forced out of their Aleppo home because of the country’s civil war.
After Maya’s heart-wrenching picture was seen around the world, the youngster was taken to Istanbul for life-changing treatment.
"Maya will walk," said Dr Mehmet Zeki Culcu, the prosthetics specialist treating her at an Istanbul clinic. "God willing, in three months time."
Maya “walks” to school wearing those tin cans, which is 300 meters away from the tent where the family lives. "As it is painful, Maya sometimes crawls around the camp," the agency reported, adding that the little girl also has a physical problem with her hands.
"I mounted some plastic on two tins of sardines with which she can go to school,” said Mohammed Merhi.
"My heart suffers when I see her crawling in front of friends, while they play and run," he lamented.
After looking at the pictures of the Syrian girl walking around in tin cans, the Turkish Red Crescent intervened, arranging for the Turkish authorities to take Maya to a specialized clinic in Istanbul.
Merhi, said the surgery for his daughter was much more important than his own treatment.
"I dream of seeing her walk, going to school and back without suffering."
Dr Mehmet Zeki Culcu said seeing the pictures of Maya moved him so much that he is paying for the cost of her prosthetic legs and those of her dad’s himself.
The charity, “Syria Appeal” revealed that there are over 13 million people in the country who desperately need aid, of these more than five million are children.
The civil war has impacted children the worst; they are not only living without the basic necessities of life, but also have lost all or most of their families at such a young age. Maya is just one of a whole generation growing up in a war time as the bloody Syrian crisis continues casting a shadow on the future of Syrian children.
Thumbnail Image Credit: Aaref Watad/AFP/Getty Images
Banner Image Credit: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images