Mobility Helps Disabled Palestinian Students Cope

December 15, 2012 ANERA
Health, In-Kind Medical and Relief, West Bank
A young Palestinian girl is helped into her new wheelchair by her mother. Tuffaha sits in her new wheelchair for the first time.

For two years, Tuffaha Eid would arrive at her preschool in her mother’s arms. Muntaha Al-Nashwi walked back and forth between her home and preschool everyday carrying her disabled child so she could receive a proper education and eventually overcome her disability.

Tuffaha is six years old and suffers from leg paralysis and slight mental retardation due to the deprivation of oxygen during birth. It affected her sight as well. She had surgery on her legs but she still finds it difficult to walk.

“We started noticing that something was wrong with Tuffaha when she was one year old. When we found out about her condition, we took her to different centers to receive physical therapy,” explained her mother.

550 disabled Palestinian students receive donated wheelchairs.

Tuffaha and her family live in a room at her grandparents’ tiny, dilapidated house in the poverty-stricken village of Sikka, southwest of Hebron. Her father is a farm worker and barely makes 100 NIS ($26) a day. Her mother dropped out of school and is a housewife. They couldn’t afford a wheelchair for their daughter until recently, with the help of ANERA.

A Palestinian family of five pose of a picture. The daughter is seated in her new wheelchair.

Tuffaha sits with her family, happy in her new wheelchair.

“A year ago, we provided Tuffaha with a walker,” said Social worker Fatina Al-Hammouri, who works at the Loan and Assistive Devices Center of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) in Hebron. “She still uses it around the house, but it was always difficult for her to go to school with it every day. That’s why this year, we gave her a brand new wheelchair.”

PMRS received a donation of 550 wheelchairs from Free Wheelchair Mission through ANERA. The wheelchairs have changed the lives of hundreds of kids and adults alike, by making mobility less of a daily struggle.

A teenage Palestinian boy sits in his wheelchair.

Wheelchairs give Palestinian youth of all ages mobility.

Earlier in the school term, Tuffaha could only reach her new school with the help of her cousins and mother. She is in the first grade and her school is far from her home. Now, thanks to her new wheelchair, she is less dependent on their help. She loves to go to school, her mother says.

In 2012, ANERA delivered more than 1,100 wheelchairs to the West Bank.

“My only wish is to see Tufaha walking. I want to walk her so badly,” stated her mother.

Established in 2002, the PMRS center serves the entire Hebron area, including surrounding villages and communities, some of which are threatened by the Israeli settlement expansion.

The center offers physical therapy for all ages and makes use of PMRS’s drugs and ointments to treat conditions resulting from physical disabilities. Workers are often accompanied by medical doctors through PMRS’s mobile clinics, to provide primary health care to certain cases that are unable to reach the center. The center’s goal is to turn disabled persons into fully-independent individuals.


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