Asmaa’s love for life reignited
Cash assistance and case management services opening new doors
Hama, Syria – “The future seemed uncertain. I felt desperate and useless,” said Asmaa, 16, about her previous perspective on life. Born with monoplegia, Asmaa lives with her parents and three siblings in Hama city, Syria.
Having monoplegia meant that one of Asmaa’s limbs were paralysed and when she was only a few months old, she had to go through several surgeries. Again, at the age of eight she had to go through another round of surgeries and extensive physiotherapy after problems in her back appeared. Her family, barely making ends meet, relied on the kindness of strangers to pay for Asmaa’s treatment. It, sadly, led to no improvements. Asmaa was exhausted and disappointed, and she wanted to stop further treatment attempts.
“The future seemed uncertain. I felt desperate and useless. I couldn’t stand up straight or walk.”
“Asmaa became isolated and not easy to deal with,” said her mother. She struggled with her condition, refused to communicate with others, and her ability to walk got worse over time. She dropped out of school due to being bullied because of her disability. “I couldn’t stand up straight or properly walk,” she explained.
In 2020, Asmaa’s mother heard from her neighbours about UNICEF’s Integrated Social Protection Programme for children with severe disabilities. It reaches them with regular unconditional cash assistance and case management services. The mother immediately registered Asmaa for the programme, and Rawan, a case manager, was assigned to Asmaa’s case.
At first, Asmaa was not convinced Rawan could help her. But her case manager was able to connect with her. “We became good friends after a while,” said Asmaa. The family used a part of the cash they received for an urgent surgery Asmaa needed. The case manager referred her to a specialized physiotherapist and now she can walk using crutches.
“Asmaa’s life has changed with the help of the programme. She went from being depressed and refusing to eat at times to becoming an optimistic young girl. I am very thankful,” said her mother. “I felt a huge difference after three weeks of therapy, and now I can walk again,” added Asmaa smiling.
“Asmaa’s life has changed with the help of the programme. She went from being depressed and refusing to eat at times to becoming an optimistic young girl. I am very thankful.”
To help her boost her self-confidence and learn how to stand up for herself if bullied, Asmaa’s case manager referred her to psychosocial support services. “In the sessions with the counsellor, I learned how to believe in myself and move forward,” explained Asmaa.
After the sessions, she felt empowered to return to school to catch up on learning. “Even though I am one and a half years behind my studies, I am happy I went back to school,” she added.
“When I first met Asmaa, she was not responsive. Now, we’re regularly in touch and she’s more at ease to share with me her thoughts and concerns,” said Rawan, Asmaa’s case manager. Rawan was key in supporting Asmaa to reignite her will and love for life. She also referred Asmaa’s mother to parenting sessions to help her communicate better with Asmaa.
The physical and psychological transformation that Asmaa has gone through during the programme, makes her feel included and enables her to play a role in her community as much as any of her peers. “The Programme has changed me. It gave me an opportunity to come back to life. Now, I can continue learning and fulfil my dream to become a lawyer and defend vulnerable people,” Asmaa concluded happily.
In 2022, over 9,000 children with disabilities have benefitted from UNICEF’s Integrated Social Protection Programme, reaching children with severe disabilities with regular cash assistance and case management services in Syria. The activities were funded with contributions from EU Humanitarian Aid (ECHO); the European Union and Government of Norway under the UN Joint Programme on Urban and Rural Resilience; Governments of Australia, Canada, Finland, Norway and Sweden; Luxembourg National Committee for UNICEF; Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation; and UNICEF’s Global Humanitarian Thematic Fund.
In 2022, more than 16,000 caregivers have benefitted from UNICEF’s parental care programme, and over 51,000 children from psychosocial support. The support was made possible with the contributions from the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA/USAID), Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the KFW Development Bank, Government of Japan, United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund, and the Republic of Korea.