“I Never Thought Anyone Would Help Me”
Basita is a 47-year-old woman from Deir Abu Day’if village in Jenin Governorate. She and her husband have six children and her three eldest children (Muhannad, Shua’a and Inas) have cerebral palsy due to oxygen deficiency at birth. They are now between the ages of eighteen and twenty three years old. It took the doctors three of Alaiat’s pregnancies to discover that the children should be given oxygen immediately after birth.
Rural Women’s Development Society (RWDS) worked with this family through the project “New Perspectives on Intellectual Disabilities”, which was funded by the Swedish Organization for Individual Relief (SOIR) and implemented during two stages between 2013 and 2014. RWDS designed this project to address the needs of children with intellectual disabilities in the villages of ‘Aneen and Deir Abu Day’if and to better integrate these children and their families into the community. The project worked closely with children and their mothers, while also working with community members on awareness of disability rights.
In 2013, the RWDS staff began working with the family to gather preliminary information and to develop an action plan. However, since the children were older and many institutions had worked with them before RWDS, we chose not to work with the three directly as beneficiaries in the project. Yet after a study of the family’s psychological, social and economic situation, the project staff made the decision to work with the mother directly to reduce her stress and help her in taking care of Muhannad, Shua’a and Inas. While the children had received support and services, no one had worked with Basita and many positive things came as a result of her participation in the project. Basita benefited from individual counseling, in-home support services and group sessions for women who have children with disabilities.
Since her first child’s birth Basita had isolated herself from the community as a result of the stress of raising six children, three of whom have disabilities, and the social stigma that can be attached to having children with disabilities. She rarely left the house or participated in social activities, including family events. However in the year and half during the project, Basita not only participated in the project activities, but has become one of most active women in the RWDS women’s club in her village. She participates in all activities and speaks boldly about the problems and difficulties she faced and how RWDS and the project helped her overcome her problems.
Basita lives with her husband and six children in a very old house. At the beginning of the project, this house had one wall that was very weak and had the tendency to collapse and an unsuitable toilet for her children with disabilities. There were certain places her children could not go in the house because it was unsafe for them. However, once the project started she saw an opportunity to get support from her community, so she asked RWDS for help. RWDS staff met with the Director of Social Affairs in Jenin (Mr. Jamal Omar) and the head of the Village Council in Deir Abu Day’if, who then reviewed the house’s poor condition, and approved it for restoration.
The Ministry of Social Affairs, in cooperation with the Deir Abu Day’if Village Council, restored the wall, the toilet, and the kitchen, and improved the entrance of the house. After seeing her house restored, Basita tearfully exclaimed that she never thought anyone would help her. For Basita, this project not only restored her home, but renewed her connection to her community and improved her sense of well-being. These types of changes are exactly what RWDS is trying to accomplish through our work in our 60 women’s clubs.
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