Crafting a better future: One woman’s journey through disability and beadwork

Palestinian refugees with disabilities in Lebanon face significant challenges and are often sidelined in society. The country’s ongoing economic crisis has made it increasingly difficult for Palestinians with disabilities to access and afford adequate healthcare and assistance.

Dana*, 22, was born with cerebral palsy which affected one side of her body, mainly the movement of her arm and leg, and her speech. She needs regular physiotherapy and speech therapy sessions which are unaffordable for her and her family.

“My father works as a metal worker, but with the economic crisis in Lebanon, his work was severely affected and now he rarely has any work,” said Dana, the eldest of four siblings living in an informal refugee gathering in Sour, in the south of Lebanon. “My sister also has a cardiac disease and needs regular tests and medicines.”

Over the years, Dana and her family have benefited from a range of services from the Sour Community Disability Project (SCDP), run by the Palestinian Women’s Humanitarian Organisation with the support of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP). The project offers physiotherapy for people with disabilities, as well as early intervention services for children with disabilities and developmental delays. The project also runs psychosocial support and community awareness-raising activities to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in education, employment and wider society.

“I was fortunate to have the SCDP physiotherapy centre close to my home where I have been receiving specialised services since I was eight years old, all free-of-charge,” said Dana. “If it was not for SCDP, my family would have not been able to afford these services and I would not have received the treatment and rehabilitation I needed to improve my skills. I am now a different person because of this centre’s support.”

“Before I began to get support from this project, I was not able to walk without support or move my hand, and I could not speak. Now, I am a strong working woman. I am independent and communicate well. For this, I am forever grateful for SCDP’s assistance,” said Dana.

“The centre’s team have always supported me. They empowered me to achieve my rehabilitation goals and to pursue my dream of having my own business. When I was at school, I took a course in beadwork and I loved it. My teachers used to tell me that I am talented. My mother encouraged me a lot, and she bought me the materials and tools I need to start producing items and sell them in the camp where I live.”

“People liked my work and I started receiving requests on WhatsApp groups to make accessories, mobile phone covers, keychains and many other things. Unfortunately, with the economic crisis, my work was greatly affected as the prices for materials I need to do my work became more expensive, and people had to prioritise spending on their most essential needs such as food and medicine.”

Despite her setback, Dana continues to receive sessions at SCDP’s centre to help further improve her development. However, her speech therapy sessions have stopped as the project has recently faced funding difficulties. Dana hopes that these sessions get resumed soon as they are extremely helpful for her personal growth.

“Recently, the SCDP team invited me to lead a session on beadwork and to share my story with young people with disabilities. I told them that they can do whatever they set their mind on and that having a disability does not stop us from fulfilling our dreams,” said Dana. “I hope the economic conditions in Lebanon improve so I can get back to work again and perhaps open a bead workshop and employ other talented people.”

Please consider supporting this project and MAP’s other work supporting the rights of people with disabilities in Lebanon and Palestine by donating today.


*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the person involved.

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