A step towards a better future

Ahmad moved beyond his disability, supported by his family and UNICEF’s cash programme

Madlin Chako and Rasha Alsabbagh
a boy looking out from door
10 February 2021

Syria, Qamishli, 9 February 2021 – Born with a defect in his heart, little Ahmad had to undergo surgery at the age of only six months. Back in 2014, two years of using medication following his surgery affected Ahmad’s lower limbs' motor capabilities, leaving him unable to walk.

“The doctor told us there were no guarantees that Ahmad would ever walk again, but that physiotherapy could help,” says Amer, Ahmad’s father.

a boy looking out from a window
Ahmad, 9, at home in Al-Hasakeh city, northeast Syria.

The family, who went through multiple displacements between 2014 and 2016, were barely able to stay afloat. They struggled to give their son the medical attention he needed. While the father, a plumber, volunteered with a relief organization to support displaced families in Al-Hasakeh and earn extra money. Ahmad’s mother stayed home to care for Ahmad and his two brothers Khudur, 12, and Amir, 5.

“I would divide my income between Ahmad’s education, medicine and physiotherapy, as well as our family’s needs,” adds Amer.

a man walking hand in hand with a boy
Ahmad, 9, walking hand in hand with his father, Amer, in Al-Hasakeh city, northeast Syria.

Despite growing financial burdens, Ahmad’s parents were determined to support his education and Ahmad’s excitement about learning kept his family going.

“I want to tell all children that education for all of us is the most important thing,” says the nine-year-old. In 2019, Ahmad’s father heard from his friend about UNICEF’s cash programme supporting children with disabilities through cash transfers and case management services. Amer registered his son, and soon after Ahmad was determined to be eligible, benefitting from the programme throughout 2020.

“Receiving the cash for Ahmad was a great relief,” says Amer. “We used it to cover his school transportation costs, stationery, learning materials and his continued physiotherapy.”

Both of Ahmad’s father and mother also benefitted from UNICEF-supported awareness and parenting skills sessions provided in their area, having talked about their benefits with Ahmad’s caseworker.

a boy standing in a room
Ahmad, 9, at home in Al-Hasakeh city, northeast Syria.

“I took advantage of all the possible opportunities to learn how to best deal with Ahmad. After the sessions, I’d discuss useful information with Ahmad’s mother.”

Ahmad can now walk for longer distances without help from anyone thanks to his will for life and the immense support provided by his parents.

“I want to become a police officer or maybe a doctor so I can help and protect children and people,” says Ahmad.

With thanks to a generous contribution from Luxembourg, UNICEF reached more than 1,100 children with disabilities in the governorate of Al-Hasakeh last year, supporting their families to provide for their basic needs and ensuring their inclusion in their communities.