Keen runner Dema Aktaa, 27, lost her leg in an explosion when her Syrian village was attacked in August 2012.
After coming to the UK in 2017 as a refugee, charity my AFK (formerly Action for Kids) helped her find funding for a running blade costing £13,500. She has now been able to start training again, and hopes to compete in the next Paralympics in Paris in 2024.
Dema now lives in Flitwick, Bedfordshire with her mother, sister and brother and is studying interior design. She said:
“When we were attacked, a bomb exploded, I went from the living room to the balcony and straight away, I lost my leg. It was a shock, of course, but there was no point getting too upset about it, sometimes things just happen.
“It’s hard to accept yourself the first few years, but after that you have to work with it, because it’s not going to change. But it’s life and I’m happy now because it makes me unique.
“I moved to Lebanon and then six years later, I came to the UK with my family as a refugee.
“Before my accident I was a keen runner, competing in school competitions. When I arrived in the UK, I wanted to give something back. I decided to do a sponsored walk for Choose Love which supports refugees.
“I was delighted to raise around £1,000. My friend Ben suggested I also start fundraising to try to buy a blade so I could get running again, my AFK saw my fundraising page and got in touch. And it all went from there.”
Julia Paylor, my AFK advocacy and mobility manager, said:
“We really wanted to help. Dema had already raised some funds from a sponsored walk with her friend Ben. We agreed that we would part fund her running prothesis, and that I would also apply to a number of different charities on her behalf. So I applied to five or six charities, most of whom were also really struck by her story and wanted to help.
“Dema now has her running prothesis and she’s sent us videos of herself learning to use it. It’s so lovely to see her rekindle the passion she had before her injury.”
“Running with the blade feels almost like flying! It means a lot to me and I can’t thank the people who helped me enough. This summer, I’ve been really enjoying watching the Paralympics and hope to be in Paris myself in 2024.”
my AFK (formerly Action for Kids) is a national charity supporting disabled children, young people and their families.
It helps prepare young people with learning disabilities and autism for life after school through our accredited education, training and work experience programmes.
It also provides mobility equipment not available on the NHS to disabled children and young people up to age 25 across the UK.
For more information or to donate, visit my AFK.