An 8-year-old girl living in a Syrian refugee camp who became famous online after photos of her walking with artificial limbs made from plastic tubing and tin cans went viral has officially been gifted new prosthetics, something her family credits with helping her to live life like “a normal child.” Maya Merhi and her father, Mohammed, both suffer from a congenital condition that caused them to be born without legs. But after photographs taken by AFP in Syria showed Maya happily, if with some difficulty, navigating the refugee camp on make shift prosthetics created by her father from available materials, the Turkish Red Crescent offered to fly the father and daughter out to Istanbul where they gave them treatment and outfitted them with new prosthetic limbs.
“My family and my relatives were very happy when they saw us come back walking with prosthetics,” Mohammed told AFP. “Thank God, they were so happy for us. It’s good that she can go out and play with the other children with her prosthetics.”
Originally from the Aleppo region, the family was forced to flee their home during the Syrian civil war. Living in the camp is difficult by itself, said Mohammed, but for his daughter one of the hardest things was her difficulty playing with the other children in the camp.
“Many things have changed for her,” said Hussein Merhi, the girl’s uncle. “Before, she didn’t leave the tent. After we made her prosthetics, she can walk on the road with her brothers and come back with them. They can play together. She is now a normal child.”
Now, the family says, Maya goes everywhere on her new prosthetics. Mohammed, as a matter of a habit, says he still mostly gets by without the use of his new prosthetics. But his daughter’s example, he said, is encouraging him to get better at using them as well.
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