With just a wheelchair and a hearing aid a life is transformed in SyriaPublished: Jan 10, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
Hamed’s smile is infectious. Warmth and innocence pour out from him as his wide grin permeates every corner of the room; his eyes gleaming with awareness. “He is very soulful,” said his mother, Karma. “His kindness and his sensitivity are so high, for example, if he saw me crying he will start crying with me; if he had a biscuit in his hand, he won’t eat it before giving me some first.”
“He is the most precious thing in my life. I feel he senses and understands my feelings more than I do.” Karma’s face holds a story of its own – one where strength constantly faces exhaustion. It’s difficult to imagine how this 40-year-old mother has managed to care for her eldest son alone for so long, considering the extra care and attention he needs with his multiple physical disabilities.
At 13 years old, Hamed is finally able to hear properly and move around with ease after receiving his first hearing aid and wheelchair from People in Need (PIN).
“The most important thing is the wheelchair and hearing aid,” said Karma. “When I took him to the doctor for physical therapy, I used to carry him on my back because we didn’t have a wheelchair.”
Since her husband’s death in the war eight years ago, “I have to play the role of a mother and a father,” said Karma. Unable to keep steady work having no other alternative for a caretaker for Hamed, Karma can barely make ends meet. Purchasing any kind of material assistance for her son on top of his existing medical expenses was never in the books.
To help garner some financial independence, Karma signed up for a three-month sewing course at a vocational training centre in Syria run by PIN. But here, her life changed in a way she never anticipated.
What is “Protection Mainstreaming”?
PIN incorporates a mechanism throughout all its programming in Syria to ensure meaningful access, safety and dignity in the humanitarian aid we deliver. This is commonly referred to as “protection mainstreaming.”
At PIN, protection mainstreaming means all its staff are trained on how to assess potential cases of people who might need special protection, or additional assistance that our existing projects do not cover. This could look like anything from victims of gender-based violence to those with acute medical needs, like Hamed. There are monitoring and referral systems in place where staff can refer someone to a specific department within PIN or to wholly other organization that might be better suited to assist the specific person’s needs.
A PIN staff member identified Karma’s need of assistance that was out of the scope of the vocational training. Through our Protection Referral team, and thanks to a crucial element of an education and employment project funded by the European Union, PIN was able to organize the purchase of this hearing aid and a wheel chair that not only benefits Hamed, but his entire family.
Hamed’s younger brothers are excited to begin working on his audio comprehension and pronunciation. “He gets very upset when people describe him as a ‘cripple’,” said Karma. “His brain is intact but the other children provoke him. The most important thing for him is for people to treat him normally like any other kid.”
Now, Karma can dedicate more of her energy toward being the breadwinner of all her children and put her newfound sewing skills to use. “I want to be able to feed my family from my own work, to have a small project that will make me independent and not in a need for anyone,” she said. “My only ambition is to be able to fulfill my children’s needs so they live a decent life like other children.”
Special thanks to the European Union for their generous funds in operating the vocational training centre for hundreds of mothers like Karma, and for supporting the incorporation of protection mainstreaming throughout all PIN programming.