Syrian children with disabilities resilient amid conflict
© © UNICEF Jordan/2013/Jensen
Despite challenges, Rania (10) follows her dream of one day becoming a teacher in her homeland Syria.
By Malene Jensen
ZA’ATARI Refugee camp, Jordan - Rania (10) was born with a problem in her back that has kept her from walking. But neither that nor her status as a Syrian refugee in Jordan’s biggest refugee camp Za’atari can stand in the way of her dream of becoming a teacher.
Every morning, her mother and brother get up at the crack of dawn to help Rania get to the newly opened UNICEF supported school. Although it’s a short walk, Rania is unable to make it on her own and needs to be carried to the cemented main road where her wheelchair will work.
The Syrian crisis, which is now in its third year, has taken an enormous human toll. As needs rapidly outpace funds, the children of Syria are paying the highest price and the most vulnerable among them are children with disabilities. For Syrian refugees or internally displaced, the percentage of children with disabilities is disproportionally high given the many injured or profoundly distressed as a result of the conflict. Their rights to assistance - from health to education - are often overlooked in humanitarian responses.
“Everything is harder here for Rania,” says her mother Reem, “including access to medical support and washrooms”.
At Za’atari refugee camp, UNICEF and partners have installed ramps to lavatories at the schools and at over 300 camp latrine units. In addition, other issues for inclusion are being explored such as school curriculums and support for children with various disabilities.
Despite all of the challenges, Rania refuses to give up on her education and has her eyes fixed on helping her country to one day rebuild. By becoming a teacher, Rania wants to be part of an inclusive environment in which every child can thrive and actively participate in society.
*The names in the story have been changed to protect the identity of children and their families.