“Though the physiotherapy center in Salfit governorate was built and finally inaugurated, the nightmare for the disabled children and their families who started to see light at the end of the tunnel continued for three more years as the center continued to stay closed and inactive due to the lack of resources needed to finish and operate it” Said Kifah Shahin 35 years old woman, and mother of a five year disabled girl.
During last summer, the Disabled Union has approached South Salfit ADP for the help in activating the centre. After having the needs assessment carried out by WV internal CDO, the ADP has decided to include the needed support for the Disabled Union to activate the centre in its FY13 plans.
Furnishing and equipping the centre, and employing a physiotherapist intern for nine months were among needed and implemented support. The physiotherapist was meant to open the centre on daily basis and provide professional physiotherapy services for disabled children.
“As one of the most vulnerable group, the disabled children were thirsty for such a centre, as it is the only one of its kind in the area” Said Ilene Maraiteh, the appointed physiotherapist intern. Ms. Maraiteh added: “I was carrying out more than 100 physiotherapy sessions each month, during the first three months. The number jumped to 150 during the next quarter, and reached 200 during the last quarter”.
Building on the successes caused by the appointed intern, the ADP started mobilizing the Disabled Union to search for other resources to develop the centre. Five months after the physiotherapist work had started; the Union has succeeded in appointing a speech therapist which was seconded from the Young Men Christian Association to work for the Disabled Centre.
“As we were approaching the month of September 2013, the Disabled Union has again approached the ADP to extend the support for one more year” Said Naser Maali, SSADP Manager. Mr. Maali added: “I made it crystal clear for the Union that our support comes to end by September 30, 2013, and there will be no support extension due to the end of the fiscal year”.
The ADP found it as a golden opportunity to organize advocacy campaign to mobilize and urge the Disabled Union, and the handicapped children’s parents to approach Salfit Governor as a duty bearer and request his support for the physiotherapy centre. The ADP has supported this advocacy campaign through series of meetings with the Union and the parents. As a result, the Union and the parents have approached the Governor, and a meeting was held with the Governor during which the support for the centre was discussed and requested. The issue has captured the attention and interest of the Governor, who promised to do all he can in order to resolve the issue and keep the centre active and open for the best services of the handicapped.
A month later, and during the October 2013 and due the extensive efforts the Governor has made on all levels, The Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah with the Minister of Health came to visit Salfit Governorate. The Governor informed him of the problem and invited him to visit the center of the Disabled Union. The Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah and his entourage accompanied the Governor in visit to the Disabled Union and the Said Centre. They met with the disabled children and their parents to discuss their needs and sufferings. The Prime Minister was very kind and humble to have long and detailed meetings with the Governor, the Disabled Union management, and more importantly with the disabled children and their parents.
Though the Prime Minister’s visit was a great success by its own, but the unforgettable and amazingly incredible success was that the Prime Minister himself has very explicitly pledged to keep the physiotherapy center open and active by appointing a permanent professional physiotherapist to develop the centre and provide high quality services to the disabled children. The promised physiotherapist is going be actually in place starting from November 2013.
“Meetings with high level officials on its own can be a public relations and publicity issue, but our meeting with the Prime Minister and the accompanying delegation was really different” Said Taha Ali Taha, Head of the Disabled Union. Mr. Taha Added: “The success we all achieved in this meeting gave us the hope and motivation to keep up with putting the disabled children needs and challenges on top of our priorities. I have actually realized that we as disabled people have a voice that can bring a real change”.
“The success we all achieved in this meeting gave us the hope and motivation to keep up with putting the disabled children needs and challenges on top of our priorities. I have actually realized that we as disabled people have a voice that can bring a real change”.