Ceremony for Mothers of Children with Disabilities

25 June 2013
Birzeit, West Bank

Creating knowledge, empowering mothers

After a four-day camp for children with disabilities, organized in Ramallah by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in partnership with local community-based rehabilitation centres (CBRCs), a ceremony was held to honour the mothers of those children.

Mohammad Araj, the programme coordinator from UNRWA, explained the importance of such activities. “These camps increase communication between mothers and their children, and allow mothers to gain the skills they need in their own unique situations, because each child is different. Our approach has been to help mothers learn specialized information regarding children with disabilities, but then tailor that information to their own unique situations.”

Bringing families together

In Ramallah, the camp brought together 120 mothers of children with disabilities, along with 180 children, including those with disabilities. Participants were split into groups for recreational activities and training, including in occupational therapy and speech therapy. The safe and comfortable environment and the attention of experts helped parents and siblings share their experiences, their successes and their stories, while working to reduce their dependence on rehabilitation centres.

“The camp has been a beautiful experience. It has allowed me to increase my connection to my children and learn how to best communicate with them,” said Wafa Shamasneh, 30, who came with her three children, two of whom, now 14 and 12, were born with disabilities. “I would like to thank all of the UNRWA staff involved, especially Mohammad Araj and Falestine, for organizing these very informational activities,” she continued, appreciating that the event had been designed to be inclusive.

Ideals in action

UNRWA is committed to the integration of people with disabilities, including children, and hopes to continue working with communities, families and others to continue offering them new opportunities. After the success of the programme in Ramallah, similar activities are now being implemented in Bethlehem and Nablus.