Syrian refugee living in Flitwick sets her sights on next Paralympics

She lost leg following attack on her village

By Clare Turner
Monday, 6th September 2021, 11:52 am
Updated Monday, 6th September 2021, 12:12 pm

A Syrian refugee who lost her leg in an explosion is hoping to compete in the next Paralympics.

Keen runner Dema Aktaa came to the UK as a refugee in 2017 following the attack on her village in 2012 - and settled in Flitwick with her mother, sister and brother.

Charity my AFK (formerly Action for Kids) helped the 27-year-old find funding for a running blade costing £13,500.

Dema Aktaa

And as she has now been able to start training again, Dema 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.

Dema's running blade

"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."

Dema - who is studying interior design - was always a keen runner before the explosion, competing in school competitions.

She said: "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 prosthesis, 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 said: "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."