Talented Rasha dreams of a bright future

After resuming her learning and with help from UNICEF’s ‘Cash for Disability’ programme Rasha realizes her limitless potential.

By Antwan Chndkji
Rasha, 11, making bead bracelets at home in Safira village southeastern rural Aleppo, Syria.
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Antwan Chnkdji
12 May 2021

“Nothing will stop me from going to school; not even the stairs that I can’t climb by myself nor the bumpy road to school,” 

Rasha

Syria, Aleppo, December 2020 - Since birth, Rasha, 11, came to this world holding burdens the are none of her choosing. Soon after birth, she suffered from several medical issues and a deformity in her legs, preventing her from walking.

Like too many children in Syria, in 2013, Rasha was forced to flee with her family their home and their village in Safira, southeastern rural Aleppo, heading east for shelter and staying in tents out in the open for more than four years. “We faced very cold winters, and there were times when I didn’t know whether or not we would survive,” said Fatima, Rasha’s mother. The family had to work in farming for long hours every day in order to support themselves while displaced.

Rasha at her home in Safira village.
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Antwan Chnkdji
Rasha, 11, at her home in Safira village southeastern rural Aleppo, Syria.

In 2017, with violence subsiding back home in Safira, Rasha and her family went back, wanting to start over again. They were among the lucky ones in the village as their house had only faced minor damages that they were able to repair and; thus, were ready to begin a new chapter in their lives.

Determined to continue her education, Rasha’s family supported her to go to school. The family was unable to afford buying Rasha a wheelchair of her own, so they borrowed one from their neighbors. She was, then, ready to go to school with the help of her sister. The school building was not convenient for the movement of children with physical disabilities, but Rasha refused to skip class. “Nothing will stop me from going to school; not even the stairs that I can’t climb by myself nor the bumpy road to school,” she said.

Rasha doing her homework and studying at home.
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Antwan Chnkdji
Rasha, 11, doing her homework and studying at home in Safira village, southeastern rural Aleppo, Syria.

Excited to overcome any challenges coming in the way of her education, Rasha -currently in Grade four- excelled at school, often finding herself at the top of her class. “I loved what I learned. I found myself in school,” she said, as she held some certificates of excellence that she has recently received from her teachers.

In addition to learning, Rasha was able to find hobbies she likes. “The idea of making something beautiful using simple items amazed me,” said Rasha, who spends hours after school making bead bracelets, a handicraft she learned watching online videos. “Sometimes I follow online tutorials, and other times, I create my own designs,” she added. After making each batch of bracelets, she gives them away to her friends and family to enjoy. Thanks to help from her mother, Rasha also learned how to sew in order to be able to make fancy dresses for her favourite doll.

In 2019, Rasha was enrolled on UNICEF’s ‘Cash programme’ for children with disabilities following a visit the family received from a UNICEF-supported team. The monthly allowance equivalent to $40, was used to cover for Rasha’s medical care required for her disability; aiding the family amid war-caused financial hardship, exacerbated by COVID-19 challenges since early last year.ds.

Rasha, 11, showing UNICEF’s social protection officer Yasmin Hulou some of the bead bracelets she recently made.
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Antwan Chnkdji
Rasha, 11, showing UNICEF’s social protection officer Yasmin Hulou some of the bead bracelets she recently made.

But with help from a UNICEF-supported team, who were able to link Rasha’s family with a private donor, she finally managed to get a new wheelchair, replacing the less convenient one borrowed from her neighbors. She dreams of becoming a pediatrician after completing school, so she can help all the children in need.

Last year, with thanks to generous contributions from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), Belgium and Canada, UNICEF was able to reach 900 vulnerable children with disabilities through its Cash programme, supporting their families provide for their basic nee