“It is so nice to feel comfortable in your own chair!”
Across Lebanon, 283 people with disabilities are receiving excellent donated wheelchairs from Wheels To Heal through Anera's network of local non-profit partners like Alkarame, the Women’s Program Association, the Women’s Humanitarian Organization and the Community-Based Rehabilitation Association.
These are some of their stories.
On July 27, 1993, I was working with my brother to fix the roof of our house. A piece of wood suddenly broke, hitting me in my face and causing me to fall from the third floor. I remember nothing further until I awoke in the hospital. I looked around and asked why I was there. It took me a few days to understand that I would no longer be able to walk. But that’s life, and I thank God every day for keeping me alive.
The hardest thing for someone who is paraplegic is learning a new way of doing things. Our wheelchair is like our car—we drive from one place to another and it helps us regain a little freedom. My old wheelchair was in very bad shape and it made my bones hurt. When the Women’s Humanitarian Organization told me I would be getting a new wheelchair, I felt like a little kid again. At that moment, I really wished I could jump for joy.”
— Ismael, a 50-year-old Palestinian living in Ansariye, in southern Lebanon.
I was born prematurely, only six months into the pregnancy. My mother was told that I was fine, although I was kept in an incubator for 53 days. Something happened during that time. It's not clear if it was a medical mistake or my body couldn’t handle the therapy but my legs stopped moving. I thank God for my family. They have been there for me through thick and thin, never wavering in their support.
As a child, I had to change wheelchairs constantly as I grew. The last one I had was not in the best condition and it was causing me pain all over my body. My mom contacted the WHO. To our joy, they took note of my situation. Eventually they asked me to pick up my new wheelchair. It is so nice to feel comfortable in your own chair! I have nothing but love and respect for Wheels to Heal and Anera. You are truly amazing.”
— Fatima, a 17-year-old Lebanese from Batolay, in southern Lebanon.
One day in 1991 during the civil war I was in Saida while bombs were falling all over the city. I was shot by a sniper while I was crossing the road looking for shelter. That's all I remember.
When I woke up in the hospital the next day, the doctors told me that I could no longer walk. To be honest, the rest of that day is a blur. But I am a strong man and I eventually adjusted to my new status quo with a big heart and an even bigger smile.
Today, I have my own car and I can drive myself. But the wheelchair is still my number one means of transportation. I can’t even go to the bathroom without it. My old wheelchair was in such a bad condition that I sometimes stayed home for days, afraid I would ruin it even more. Things are much different now with my new wheelchair! I can use it all day long because it’s very comfortable and a quality chair.”
— Ali, a 46-year-old Palestinian living in Burj El Shemali camp in South Lebanon.
The first important task we undertook through the [Palestinian Disability] Forum was conducting a census of all the disabled Palestinians in Lebanon. Then we proceeded to create special IDs that allow them to benefit from our services. We also provided them with vocational training and helped them find jobs, or supported them in starting their own business.
Today, the Forum's support is no longer limited to Palestinians, but extends to anyone in need, because our mission is to serve all people. We never stop, no matter how big the need, because we know that there are organizations like Wheels to Heal and Anera out there who will never turn their backs on us.”
— Dr. Jamal Al Saleh – Palestinian Disability Forum Association Coordinator.