How the love and support of Sara’s family helped her overcome barriers of intellectual disability
Discover how Sara's family's determination, with the support of the National Disability Allowance(NDA) program, helped her to overcome barriers of intellectual disability
Hala and Mounir are a humble couple from Bireh, a small town in North Lebanon. They have six children, the youngest of whom is Sara, who was born with an intellectual disability.
Sara is now nineteen years old and lives with her mother, father, and two brothers in Tripoli. She is a bright and cheerful girl who loves to draw, go to the beach, and play with her ball. Sara has learned to express her feelings and communicate more effectively through drawing. Sara’s disability affects her speech. We spoke with her mother, Hala.
Launched in April 2023, the National Disability Allowance (NDA) program provides direct income support to persons with disabilities across Lebanon. The program was launched by the Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA), in partnership with the European Union, UNICEF and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
When Sara was born, Hala and Mounir were determined to give her the best possible life. They moved from Bireh to Tripoli, a larger city with more available resources and services for people with disabilities. They also enrolled Sara in a specialized disability education school and other programs. Determined to provide her with the best possible support and ensure she never felt left behind, Hala and Mounir diligently educated themselves and their other children about Sara’s disability.
When the Lebanese economic crisis started in 2019, Hala and Mounir startedto struggle financially. With the depreciation of the local currency, Mounir's salary as a retiree lost 90% of its value. As a result, they were forced to reduce spending on Sara’s education and prioritize essentials such as food, medicine, utilities, and other basic necessities just to make ends meet.
Hala and Mounir have refused to give up on Sara’s future. They visited the closest MOSA’s Right & Access Centre to enroll her in the National Disability Allowance program, which provides cash assistance to persons with disabilities born between 1995 and 2005.
The cash assistance provided helped Sara to continue her education at a specialized disability education centre by covering the fees. She has also bought new glasses and drawing and coloring supplies.
Mounir had insisted on renewing Sara’s disability card when it expired , despite the economic crisis, and dwindling government resources. When the Rights and Access programme staff called Sara’s family and told them about the new monthly allowance, they were overjoyed.
Sara’s mom explains that collecting the assistance is relatively easy for them. Every month, they receive an SMS informing them that the assistance has been transferred. One of her parents then goes to collect the assistance from a nearby OMT outlet, one of the 1,300 outlets available across the country.
Hala and Mounir are grateful for the cash assistance that Sara receives from the National Disability Allowance. They remain determined to give Sara the best possible chance to thrive, and the disability allowance is helping Sara to continue her education.
Sara story is a reminder that people with disabilities should receive cash support to cover the extra cost of disability, especially when living in a country that is not disability inclusive. It is also a testament to the love and dedication of Hala and Mounir, who have always supported their daughter and believed in her capacities.
The National Disability Allowance is the first rights-based social grant dedicated to persons with disabilities. It is implemented by the Ministry of Social Affairs with the European Union, UNICEF and ILO support.