“The day he was born, the doctors told us he’d been starved of oxygen during birth and some of his motor functions had been affected,” Ali’s older sister, Reham explains of her four-year-old brother who has cerebral palsy. “Then and there I decided I would do everything I could to help him. I’m usually the one who comes with him to his rehabilitation sessions.”
Since this summer, Ali has been attending physical therapy sessions at one of our partner’s rehabilitation centers in Zarqa, Jordan with the support of HI’s team. Manal, a physical therapist with HI starts a new session with Ali in the rehabilitation center where Ali seems to feel at home. “He has made a lot of progress since we first met him,” Manal says. “He initially found it really hard to control his movements. He couldn’t hold his head straight, keep his balance, or grip things without difficulty. And he was really frightened. He cried a lot and it took a while for him to get used to our team and the rehabilitation exercises. But we’ve managed to win his trust over time.”
Through a combination of physical and occupational therapy, Ali’s day-to-day life has become much easier. As Manal continues the exercises with Ali, she explains: “After just a few sessions, we’ve helped him stand up straight and hold a pencil in his hand. And he can sit up for longer periods now. When we saw how well he was doing, we talked to our colleague, an inclusion specialist, who confirmed that Ali was perfectly able to go to school like any other child.” This victory exceeded the expectations of both the physical therapist and Ali’s family, and Ali will start preschool next term. “When we first came here, all I wanted was for my brother to stand up by himself. But it never crossed my mind that the sessions would make it possible for him to go to school one day,” Reham adds.
Reham is proud of the progress Ali has made and is hopeful about his future. “As he grows up, I think the hardest thing for my brother will be realizing he can’t necessarily do everything the other children do, or not as easily. When we talk about what he can do rather than what he can’t, and when he sees that he’s not so different after all, it makes him happy. Ali’s really intelligent and even though he finds it hard to move around, he understands everything we say to him. I know he’s going to be one of the top students in his class.”
When the session comes to an end, Ali’s big sister adds: “I just really hope that he’ll continue to improve. I want him to be as independent as possible in his everyday life. Ali deserves to grow up and thrive like any other child his age. What coming here has taught me is that we shouldn’t see his condition as a brake but more as an obstacle, which my brother has every chance of overcoming. And the more time goes by, the more he seems to realize that. That’s what is really important.”
Many thanks to the United States Department of State and the UK's Department for International Development for funding this important work in Jordan.