Mohammad Atieh is a physiotherapist at CVT Jordan.
Most of our clients come to CVT feeling totally helpless. War has completely wiped away all their hopes and dreams for the future. Once they walk into CVT, we start dusting the war off of their bodies, hearts and minds. We help clients to begin thinking that they have a future and finding ways to live again. Life goes on.
I started my career at a physiotherapy center after I graduated from Hashemite University. I worked on cases with musculoskeletal and neurological conditions, and I then moved on to work with children, specializing in spina bifida and cerebral palsy cases. This was good experience for me, but I wanted to broaden my horizons. I was interested in gaining NGO experience and researched a number of agencies. I looked into CVT’s work and found that it was very different from any other private or public organization. I knew the work with survivors of torture would be new for me – it was a dream to work here and get this new experience.
As physiotherapists, we provide assessments for torture survivors, in which we assess their physical needs. We run physiotherapy group sessions, which follow different approaches for children, adults and older people so that their particular needs are met. We also provide individual therapy for cases where clients need specialized care, for example in cases of difficult physical injuries.
As an interdisciplinary team at CVT, combining physiotherapy, psychology and social work, I have seen that we can transform somebody’s life. As an example, many clients have a lot of thoughts and traumatic memories due to war and atrocities, so the psychosocial counselor helps organize these thoughts as the physiotherapists do our work with physical symptoms. The social workers add support and referrals that help with life stressors.
One client said to me, “My house had very negative dynamics and shouting. My wife and daughters were very distant from me. But after I joined CVT, the love, friendship, understanding each other and kindness were all over my house again.” And he added, “My daughter came and hugged me after five years of never hugging me.” What helped them was applying our exercises like breathing, relaxation, grounding exercises and coping techniques.
What inspires me with passion to work more and more at CVT is how physical therapy affects the social lives of our clients. After we build the strength in their body, reducing and teaching them how to cope with their pain, agree with them about their functional goals, and teach them the pacing techniques to achieve their functional goals, they are able to perform their functions normally as much as possible. They return to doing their daily activity and they are now able to do shopping for the family and visit their friends. Some of them start to do work that helps them to get some money to support their family needs.
I can’t forget a client who had been suffering from severe low back pain and lower extremities weakness from the trauma history. For him these pains prevented him from praying and visiting his friends and relatives. But after our individual sessions he became able to pray normally without difficulties; he is able to communicate with his friends and play card games with them.
I’m proud of my work with this amazing organization, and to be a member of the CVT family. CVT is a formidable castle because it supports and helps anybody who seeks refuge here. CVT is full of humanity, love, respect and interdisciplinary work. The results can been seen in the way our clients can smile again, love again, spread joy again among their families and communities. This gives them hope that life will keep going on. They do have a future to look forward to.
Funding for CVT’s work in Jordan is funded by the United States Government and the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.