Diakonia - People change the world
On the World Day of Disabled People, Amneh Habouch, 7-year old, leads a public march in front of UNDP to advocate the rights of children with disability. Photo: National Society for Rehabilitation

Amneh - a role model for children with disabilities

As we grow older, we reminisce about our childhood and the time when we played joyfully. However there are those who wish to erase their childhood memories, such as Amneh Habouch, who never had a typical childhood due to her disability.

7/24/2013 Publisher: Dona Khoury

Born with a disability

Amneh is a seven year old girl from Gaza, who was born with a spinal cord deformity that rendered her disabled. Amneh lives with her family of eight members in a modest home, where each corner tells a story about the family's tough situation. In addition to the family's challenges with Amneh's disability, her father have been unemployed for a long time, which has taken left him in a fragile psychological state.

Persistent work of the CBR programme

In light of the harsh conditions, an intervention was needed to help Amneh and her family. The Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) programme, implemented by Diakonia's partner organization the National Society for Rehabilitation (NSR) gave such help. The rehabilitation team visited Amneh at home and recommended that tools and equipment should be provided to her. Amneh was then given a coat and medical boots, and plans were made for her travel to Egypt for corrective surgery.

A difficult decision

Amneh did not realize what was waiting for her in Egypt. She was going there, filled with hope and anticipation that she would bid farewell to the wheelchair. However, an unanticipated turn of events occurred, when Amneh suffered heavy bleeding during the surgery. In order to save her life, her family has to make the difficult to amputate her left leg.

Amneh went back home, but she was under harsh psychological conditions. The CBR program had to intervene, and immediately provided Amneh and her family with psychological support in order for her to overcome the new challenge ahead of her. Amneh was integrated in a nearby kindergarten and participated in recreational activities. Her father also started seeing improvement in her psychological state, which gave the family energy to be persistent. Amneh went back to Egypt, where her leg was amputated, receiving an artificial limb instead.

Started going to school

Following her return to Palestine, the rehabilitation team trained Amneh on the use of the artificial limb that substituted for her left leg, and she was offered training how to adapt.

Then came the moment long-anticipated by Amneh and her family, namely her enrollment in school. Amneh was integrated in Al-Kahira Elementary school, Gaza and was the subject of continued assistance and support. Amneh was integrated in the school activities, and some adaptations were done in the school to accommodate her needs.

Role model

Despite all the hardships that she has faced, Amneh has successfully started school and become an advocate for the rights of children with disabilities. The love of learning and progressing has been instilled in Amneh’s life, creating a will in her to shape her future according to her dreams. Amneh has due to her background, story and determination become a role model for many children of her age who suffer from disability.