“It’s wonderful to see her move around and interact with people”
Firial is 3 years old and lives in Jordan. Born with Down's syndrome, she finds it hard to move around and coordinate her movements. She regularly receives free physiotherapy care in one of Handicap International’s partner centres.
Manal, Hamzeh and Firial, during a physiotherapy session. | © E. Fourt / Handicap International
When Firial arrives at the rehabilitation centre in Zarqa, she looks really keen to begin her new session. As the organisation’s physiotherapist, Manal, walks towards her, the little girl beams with joy. Manal and Firial know each other well. In fact, this is their twentieth rehabilitation session together.
Hamzeh, one of HI’s professionals, comments: “Firial’s story is very inspiring. I’ve rarely seen a girl who loves doing her physiotherapy exercises so much and who has progressed this fast. It really encourages us to continue doing what we’re doing.” Tamam, the Firial’s mother, agrees: “When we heard that my daughter had Down’s syndrome, we didn’t think anything could be done to help her get better. Then, one day, someone told me about this centre. I didn’t even know what physiotherapy was. The first time we came here, my daughter couldn’t stand up and she found it really hard to communicate with us. These weekly rehabilitation sessions have totally changed our day-to-day lives. It’s wonderful to see her move around and interact with people. It’s given us hope again.”
Hamzeh and Manal begin a series of exercises with Firial, under Tamam’s watchful eye. “Today we’re going to see if Firial can take some more steps without falling,” says the centre’s physiotherapist. “She can already take five steps, which she couldn’t before. Her balance is improving with time. We want her to be fully independent in the future, and I think we’ll manage that. I’m sure she’ll be able to walk by herself in a few months’ time.”
Firial blows in her hands and sends her mother a kiss. “See - that’s new too,” says Tamam with a smile. “These physiotherapy sessions haven’t just improved her ability to move around, they also help her interact and share things with us.” Firial’s mother is now determined to ensure the best possible future for her daughter. The rehabilitation sessions have opened up new opportunities to her. “I want her to be happy and to feel accepted for who she is - at school and at home. I think the physiotherapy is going to help with that and make it easier for her to live her life. I’ve realised that when a child has Down’s syndrome, that’s not the end of the story. I would really like my daughter to realise her full potential. Firial is bright and loving. She has a lot to offer us and the people who cross her path.”
Learn more: Implemented by HI in Jordan in 2017, this project provides support to various health centres in the country, by donating equipment and training their employees in rehabilitation techniques. This project gives priority to a community-based rehabilitation (CBR) approach. HI identifies volunteers from communities and camps who themselves then identify potential beneficiaries, assess their needs and direct them to health centres where they can receive free treatment. Handicap International’s equity fund programme also allows the organization to provide direct financial support to people who use the centre. The organisation pays for their transport when they need to travel for rehabilitation care. This is extremely important as the cost of services such as physiotherapy and transportation are among the biggest obstacles to accessing quality care in Jordan.