New Perspectives on Intellectual Disabilities in the Villages of Deir Abu Da’yif and ‘Aneen

In 2012, the Swedish Organization for Individual Relief (SOIR) – Palestine invited RWDS to design a project for individuals with intellectual disabilities in rural communities. Out of this came two projects that have been implemented in the Jenin area over 19 months with funding from SOIR-Palestine and in coordination with the RWDS clubs in Deir Abu Da’yif and ‘Aneen. Despite high need, very few services exist in these two villages that target children or adults with any sort of disability. The objective was to increase the integration of children with disabilities and their families into the community and to increase social awareness on disability rights. Specifically, this project works with 40 children with intellectual disabilities in each village, providing them with specialized services including in-home visits, physical therapy, art therapy workshops and other activities to encourage integration with other children in the village, such as an annual summer camp. Through individual counseling, support groups and informational meetings, parents of the 40 children increased their knowledge and skills so they can provide better care for their children, with a special emphasis on mothers as they are the primary caretakers. By the end of 2014, one physical therapy unit will be built and available for use in each community. Members of the community acquired new knowledge about disability rights through recurring educational workshops, including at local schools. Large public educational and advocacy events are held in Jenin during each December of the project to raise awareness about Disability Rights within Palestinian society.

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