Rudaina fights for disabled people's rights
It was her own challenges that motivated her to change the life of others. Rudaina Abu Jarrad has a disability and few people close to her thought she’d be able to educate herself and raise a family. But she fought for her rights and today she works for Diakonia’s partner organization in Palestine.
– I joined the Medical Relief CBR program because the disability rights cause is dear to me, simply because it touches upon my suffering as a person with disability and I felt that I can make a difference to others and the whole community, says Rudaina Abu Jarrad.
Rudaina works in the northern parts of Gaza, through the Regional Rehabilitation Programme, Diakonia advocates for the rights of people with disabilities, and empower them to claim their economical, social and cultural rights.
– I feel very satisfied when I am changing the lives of persons with disabilities to the better through my community work.
She works with schools, universities, and mother groups of disabled persons to promote inclusiveness. She is also the chair person of of the General Union of Disabled Persons, Tulkarem branch, as well as the leader of the Stars of Hope branch, a self-organized group of women with disabilities.
But it has been a long and painful struggle to reach her position in society.
– My family went through great pain when they found out about Polio condition, more so because I was only two years old.
Many times she has had to defend her rights, for example she insisted on going to school and living a normal life despite her physical disability. Her brothers and sisters defended her right to education, so she was enrolled at the school in her village.
– I will always remember my first day at school, it was a difficult day, and I felt like a stranger to the entire village. I know that my mother felt my suffering, and so she would carry me to school every day including stormy days.
Defended her rights
When she reached the secondary stage, she faced a new challenge. There was no secondary school in her village, and the financial cost of travel to another village was too high. Yet her mother stood by her, more so because she was an outstanding student with high grades. She got enrolled at a high school in Tulkarem, and had to travel by a private taxi each day for three years. Her brothers covered Rudaina’s expenses, because by then their father had already died.
– I earned a Diploma in Business Management, and the years in college were the best and most beautiful of her entire life. I met many girls from outside my community and felt independent. I learned how to drive a car.
But when Rudaina wanted to get married her family opposed the idea, because they felt she wasn’t able to manage a family.
– But I was self-confident and aware of my rights. I defended my right to get married and now I have four kids! I consider myself a fighter and a mother. I love my family so much, and my husband understands the nature of my work and supports me.