Syrian refugee rebuilding his life in Louisville with help from - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Syrian refugee rebuilding his life in Louisville with help from YMCA

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Ahmad Allaoub is a regular at the Northeast YMCA.

Seven days a week you'll see him working out on one of the machines. "I exercise for like two hours, sometimes more," he said.

He has a shy smile and a strong drive to grow stronger after an air strike changed his life forever.

"There is a bomb. And I was in the street, and there were like three people dead," said Allaoub.

Six years ago, the bombing near his Syrian hometown critically injured his legs. Because of the lack of medical care available in the war-torn country, he was taken to Turkey for an operation to save his legs. The operation failed and both legs were amputated above the knee. "When I have this injury, I feel not good. I feel like I don't want to live again," said Allaoub.

For the next four years he lived in Turkey unable to do much. "I lived in a building and there was stairs. I could not go outside, it was difficult. And here I can go everywhere," he said.

Then came the opportunity to move to Louisville for medical care and rehabilitation. He moved here along with his brother leaving the rest of his family behind. Allaoub does physical therapy at a local hospital, but wanted to speed up his recovery. Six months ago he joined the YMCA thanks to a little help. 

"Through the resources of our annual campaign and a generous donor here at the YMCA, they all came together and were able to give him a membership so he could use this facility as much as he wants," said Kenny Hoerter, Executive Director of the Northeast YMCA.

Allaoub uses the hand bicycle to improve his upper body strength and works on his core as well. But more than improving his physical health, people at the YMCA have noticed a real transformation.

"From the time he came into our branch and was a little shy, a little timid to now he's really outgoing. You can tell he's enjoying himself and you can just tell he's building with some of our staff and some of the other members," said Hoerter.

As Allaoub continues to regain his strength, he's turning his attention to the future. He's working on his English and hopes to land a job soon. He also recently got prosthetic legs, which is a big step toward rebuilding his life.

"I want my body to be strong to be able to walk again," he said.

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