Ali is an energetic six-year-old boy, living in Beddawi camp in northern Lebanon. Since he was born, he has suffered from profound deafness. He never had the chance to listen to music or hear his mother’s voice.
Two months ago, Ali received a pair of hearing aids from Anera at the Community Based Rehabilitation Association (CBRA).
For the first time of his life, Ali is beginning to hear the world around him. His mother Mariam is impressed by the changes. "Ali reacts to sound now and I can even talk to him. My son understands me!"
Today, Omar Oweida, Ali’s speech therapist, is fine-tuning the little boy’s hearing aids in CBRA’s premises. He explains that Ali suffers from a pre-linguistic deafness, which impeded his speech development. He still does not speak.
Ali also suffers from behavioral problems, often associated with deafness. He is enrolled in preschool but feels unhappy there because he is unable to communicate with the other children. All of this is changing now that Ali is able to hear. He is learning how to speak and will eventually be able to follow a regular school curriculum.
Anera's Delivery of Donated Hearing Aids is a Life-Changing Gift for Many
In Lebanon, 95% of Palestinian refugees like Ali do not have medical insurance and lack access to adequate health care. Thanks to LDS Charities’ in-kind donation, Anera was able to bring some life-changing improvements for 113 persons suffering from disability or impairment: in addition to 17 adults and 23 children who received hearing aids, CBRA also distributed 35 eyeglasses, 20 crutches and 18 walkers.
For some other patients, it is not about discovering a new sense but recovering lost potential. This is the case for 69-year-old Mohammad Abbas.
A few years after his birth, Mohammad and his family fled from Palestine to Syria in the aftermath of the 1948 War. Mohammad settled in Yarmouk camp, near Damascus, where he raised his five children and became first a geography professor and then a school director. A year ago, already retired, Mohammad was forced into a second exile. He fled war-ravaged Syria and took refuge in Beddawi refugee camp in northern Lebanon.
Mohammad has had hearing difficulties for about three years now. "My grandchildren used to repeat everything twice or more," he said. "They had to yell when speaking to me. 'Grandpa can’t hear anything,' they complained!”
Mohammad received two hearing aids, one for each ear, and he is slowly recovering his full hearing.
Ahmad, one of CBRA’s staff, explains: “Very often, donations target children and students. Yet we have many active elderly people – fathers, grandfathers, workers – who need support. This is the first time in four years that we received a donation covering this part of the population. This is very important for the development and well-being of the whole community.”
Ahmad also explains that many older people, especially those who recently fled from Syria, live in very difficult conditions in Beddawi. When they have to cope with crippling conditions while physically disabled in some way, it becomes almost impossible to live in dignity. In this situation, caring for them is essential.
“And what is great,” jokes Mohammad, “is that if I want some quiet, I can still take my hearing aids off!”