London: Syrian runner Dima Al-Aktaa always has a smile on her face, even when talking about the most horrific event in her life — the loss of her left legin 2012 when her housein Salqin, Idlib was bombed.
She is well deserving of her place on the BBC’s list of 100 inspiring and influential women in 2022 thanks to her story, her journey, and her strong will.
The BBC has revealed its 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2022.December 8, 2022
Dima was struck by tragedy 11 years ago at the age of 18, shortly after the Syrian civil war had erupted. Like hundreds of thousands of Syrians who had to emigrate, fleeing the horrors of war by land, sea, or air, Dima sought asylum first in Lebanon, then six years later in Britain.
However, Dima also carried the anguish of losing a limb.
“I was like any other girl going through life and looking forward to my future,” she says, describing her life before the tragedy.
Dima loved running and participated in several local marathons in Syria before the war broke out.
“I had many sources of inspiration, but knowing how strong and resilient I've grown through pain and adversity is what truly inspires me.”
Dima doesn’t like to dwell on her suffering. Instead, she chooses to focus on persevering in the face of adversity.
“There are times in life when you feel helpless and confused. After the what happened to me, I realised that I couldn’t go back in time and change what happened. I had to come to terms with the fact that I would never get my leg back,” she says.
“Looking back, I see it as a gift from God who took one thing away from me but blessed me with something greater. If it were not for that accident, I would not be the person I am today.”
Recounting the tragedy
Recounting the details of that fateful day, Dima explains: “At first, I felt that I had lost something but did not know yet what it was. Then I looked down and I was holding the remains of my leg in my hands. Despite the excruciating pain, I wasn’t screaming or crying, and I realised that God blessed me with exceptional strength.”