Your support makes a difference!
“It takes a village to raise a child” is a Nigerian proverb that is expressed in different forms in many African languages. This ancient African proverb best describes the life journey of a 3 years old Palestinian refugee. Ammar El-Ali was born with a profound hearing loss in both ears, but with the help of a Jewish American family friend and a caring community, Ammar is finally able to hear and broadly smile.
Ammar El-Ali was born in the Palestinian refugee camp of Sabra and Shattila, and until this year he was bound to be deaf and mute. He lives in one of the most disenfranchised Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon. Sabra and Shattila residents have witnessed and suffered numerous invasions and massacres. Their simple make shift homes have been destroyed by direct shelling and plane bombings over and over again. It is Ammar’s home and the crowded home of thousands of Palestinian refugees. Ammar’s family of ten live in a one-bedroom apartment, with no running water and intermittent access to electricity.
Each September Ellen Siegel travels to Beirut, Lebanon to visit Sabra and Shattila refugee camp, a pilgrimage of sorts she has dutifully performed since 1982. As it happened during that awful year, Ellen was working as a nurse at the Palestinian Red Crescent’s Gaza Hospital, when more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed. In 2008, Ellen said “As long as I am able, I will return to Beirut every year…to be present…to remember…to march, and to honor the dead and those who survived.” She added “I want to be with my Palestinian friends who still live in the camps, to spend time in their homes and with their families, to share a meal with them.”
During Ellen’s September 2013 trip, she met Ammar and his family and she was moved to help. Upon her return she contacted Dr. Randa Mansour-Shousher, an Arab American audiologist in Toledo. After reviewing his medical record and history, Dr. Mansour-Shousher agreed to help. She set up an entire medical team to perform the necessary evaluation and procedures to help Ammar restore his hearing. Meanwhile, Ellen contacted the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), to fund the cost of visa fees and airfare for Ammar and his mother Suzane to come to Toledo and return back to Beirut.
Arrangements were also made to house the family in Toledo’s Ronald McDonald House during their entire time in Toledo.
On his arrival Dr. Mansour -Shousher fitted Ammar with a hearing aid in his left ear. She arranged the cochlear implant surgery, which was deemed medically necessary, for his right ear, and also arranged a minor procedure to make sure Ammar’s tongue functioned properly. After his successful operation, Ammar began his speech therapy treatment. Dr. Mansour -Shousher and the entire medical team that she assembled donated their time, services, and waived their medical fees. Ammar’s medical exams, his operating room fees, anesthesia, surgeons fees, and the cost of his hearing devices were gift offerings to Ammar and his family.
The physicians’ assessment of Ammar’s ability to recover his hearing was promising. They found him to be a very intelligent child who learns quickly, and possesses the ability and potential to fully develop his hearing. But, they were concerned with his next phase of recovery and development, which was to take place soon after he returns to the refugee camp. Ammar needed to be around normal children in a supportive environment, that could help him adjust, develop his hearing, understand the spoken word, and learn. With appropriate support every child possesses the resilience and capacity to achieve the desired outcomes and realize his/her innate potential. For Ammar to fully develop his hearing and speaking skills, a supportive system needed to be in place for him to immediately access.
In December 2014, Ellen contacted APWA to help fund his next phase of therapy and counseling. She said Ammar’s family needed financial support to begin Ammar’s speech therapy, counseling, and to cover the cost of his first year of schooling. And so it was decided that APWA would offer the necessary financial support to cover Ammar’s needs for the entire year.
Today, Ammar is enrolled in Beit Atfal Assamoud’s (Home of the Children of Sumud) (BAS) educational program, which is also known as The National Institution of Social Care & Vocational Training. BAS is a reputable NGO that was established in 1976, that primarily serves Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. BAS staff are well-trained and are supported by many teachers’ aides. Its instructional program is age appropriate that offers children time to play, sing, and dance. It is a happy corner in a congested refugee camp.
BAS’s educational director Kassem Aina agreed to admit Ammar in BAS’s preschool (KG) program. Kassem also facilitated his access to additional services that he requires and needs. He made it possible for Ammar to seek specialized therapy and counseling at the Family Guidance Center (FGC).
In addition, BAS provides cultural, educational, and health services for Palestinian refugee families. With Kassem’s help, these services were made available to Ammar’s family. Since his return home, Ammar and his family have a cadre of professionals who work with him and his parents to ensure his needs are met. They work to help Ammar regain his speech, and provide his parents the necessary training to help him learn the tools and cognitive skills to interpret, hear, and speak.
Thankfully, with the generous support of countless of APWA supporters, APWA was able to play a small role in helping Ammar meet his needs in a supportive nurturing environment. With your continued support APWA hopes to continue funding Ammar for many years to come.
11/14/2022 01:45:17 am
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