One Woman’s Mission to Care For Children with Disabilities in Palestine
- Published: Friday, 17 February 2012 20:49
This week, a group of our supporters are visiting two World of Children Honorees in Israel and Palestine to see firsthand how our generous donors have unlocked the future for children. Today, they arrived at their second stop: Palestine, where 2008 Honoree Dr. Jumana Odeh and The Palestinian Happy Child Centre provide treatment and care for children with disabilities.
Approximately 93 million children around the world have a disability. Many of these children are not given the same opportunities as their peers. They are less likely to attend school, receive medical care, or have their voices heard (UNICEF). In places like Palestine, parents who have a child with a disability are often not given the support they need to care for their child. Talking about a child’s disability is taboo, so families are hard pressed to find treatment, education and other support services.
2008 World of Children Health Honoree Dr. Jumana Odeh has spent her career helping Palestinian children with disabilities. She founded The Palestinian Happy Child Centre (PHCC) in 1994 to provide treatment and care for children suffering from trauma, neurological disorders, and learning and developmental disabilities. “The fundamental principle guiding the PHCC is the conviction that every child has the right to education, healthcare, protection, and wellbeing throughout their life,” Dr. Odeh said. The Centre provides early screenings, diagnoses, specialized care, and therapy. However, equally important is PHCC’s education and support for parents, teachers, and other caregivers; this not only ensures that children can receive the care they need at home and in school, but also helps break down cultural stigmas. “To date the PHCC model has improved the standing of children with special needs in Palestine,” Dr. Odeh said, “but the real challenge lies in changing attitudes and beliefs in the mosques, churches and politics, a significant undertaking in a society where stigma is paramount.” Today, Dr. Odeh continues to unlock the future for children with disabilities, providing the specialized care they need to thrive.
Tomorrow, we’ll share more inspiring stories from Palestine. Stay tuned to meet children whose lives have been transformed by your support!