'Music to my ears.' A mother’s joy and pride as he spoke his first words
Children with disabilities and their families remain amongst the most marginalised and underprivileged members of the Egyptian society. The fear of the unborn is every mothers worry and so is their hope that the children they expect are born healthy and safe from disability.
For 2 years since Abdel Aal was born, his mother thought all was well. Abdel was healthy like any other child and although he did not seem to make much attempt to speak, the mother imagined that his time was yet to come, until the curiosity of her neighbours got her thinking of his ability to speak and listen like any other child
After listening to neighbours who were convinced that at two Abdel should be talking, she opted to take him to a medical review at a Community Based Rehabilitation program run by Plan Egypt at El Wehda Community Development Association in her neighbourhood. It was here that she found out that all was not well as she had always imagined.
Accepting was not easy
“When I found about it I was really shocked. It was a mixture of guilt, because I didn’t find out before, and also sadness to realize that my child would have a disability forever,” she admits of her disappointment.
With encouragement and support from the center staff, she quickly enrolled Abdel so that he could participate in the activities to improve his development and progress.
Thanks to the son’s resolve, he thrived by fully involving in the center activities and mingling with other children. He even received a hearing aid.
But despite the good progress, she was still reluctant to accept the reality and get over her initial shock upon learning of her son’s disability. But through constant involvement at the center where mothers are roped into activities with others as well as with their children, she has become better skilled on how to support Abdel. She also finds the sessions helpful since the mothers share their issues, frustrations and find time to laugh about their challenges.
"The knowledge I have gained from these sessions has helped me become more effective in the way I raise my son given his disability. I have become more patient and understanding. Having the skills to deal with this has made me stronger and this is how I want every mother to feel. I have decided to share what I have learned with other women and mothers so that their children may also benefit,” she says.
His first words
“I’m not scared any more. I see how Abdel Aal is improving and learning every day. I am here to support him and help him to say his first words. After so much silence, his words come like music to my ears,” she adds.
Plan Egypt has been running a community-based rehabilitation project in Egypt since 2004. The project has so far covered 30 communities and a total of 5000 children with disabilities and their families.
Read more about Plan Egypt's Community-based rehabilitation programme.