Ara, 8 years old, was born with cerebral palsy. Difficult access to rehabilitation centres in Halabja (Iraqi Kurdistan) prevented him for many years to benefit from physiotherapy sessions. In 2016, in the frame of the Handicap International’s new project, one of the organization’s teams visited him and his family. “They offered to assist my son with rehabilitation sessions” explains Zhino, his mother. “They also assisted me in dealing with my depression. When Handicap International reached out to us, my hope came back and my life changed for the better. I didn’t feel alone anymore. Through the sessions, they taught me how to take care of Ara and how not to worry about the way his disease might be perceived in our community. It helped me tremendously.”
“Handicap International’s project aims at promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all spheres of the society” explains Tomas Bokor, Development Operations Coordinator. “Not only do we provide health services to the persons with disabilities who need it, we also want to make sure that they can access education, work, or social activities. Our initiative goes beyond providing rehabilitation services. We want the people we assist to be happy and to feel like they have their place in the society.”
Not too far from Ara’s home, in a village near Halabja, we meet Shawkat. His story is probably the best example of what the organization is trying to achieve with this new project. Ten years ago, the Kurdish man lost a leg. “On that day, I had gone farming. I don’t remember much, just the moment I stepped on a landmine”, he says. A few years after the accident, Handicap International provided Shawkat with a prosthesis and rehabilitation care. More recently, the organization came to him with a new opportunity. “With this project, we want to make sure that persons with disabilities are included everywhere” explains Yagdar, Handicap International’s Deputy Operations Coordinator. “Shawkat is a very active man so we asked him if he wanted to join his village’s council.” Since then, the Kurdish man seems to have found happiness again, despite his tragic past.
“The organization helped me get back on my feet, but I had yet to find a purpose. I had never thought of joining my village’s council before but I am glad they encouraged me to do it. I am proud to be the voice of persons with disabilities in my community now.”
Handicap International is also helping persons with disabilities and their families in finding work opportunities. “Six years ago, my father, Ali, had a stroke” explains Osama when we meet him. Since then, Ali has not been able to provide for his family. The father of 4 lives in such a remote place that he could not access any rehabilitation facility to regain some of his mobility. For the past years, Ali had been struggling financially. A few months ago, Handicap International’s team heard about his situation and visited the family in their home. “We decided to help Osama get a job, so that he can help meet his father’s and the family’s needs” explains one of the Handicap International representatives.
Payam. © Handicap International