Havine* is 18 years old and has been living in a Yazidi internally displaced peoples camp since ISIS came to her village in the Sinjar region in 2014. When Operation Mercy workers first met her over a year ago, she never smiled, had no friends and had no hope in life. She would not leave her home because of her physical disability of severe bilateral clubfoot. Both feet were at a 90-degree angle pointed inwardly since birth.
Despite spending all her time at home, her relationship with her family was strained. In January 2019, she underwent corrective surgery with one of our partner NGOs and had an amazing outcome of one straightened foot. Operation Mercy workers helped care for her in the hospital and back at home with both nursing care and physical therapy.
She then had surgery on her left foot in October 2019, with her cast removal a few months later. Unfortunately, from 2019 until early 2020, she did not have much motivation to do exercises, and her physical improvement progressed slowly due to her depression and anxiety. Sometimes she would even faint from the fear of trying to stand.
Our local team spent weeks encouraging her, reminding her of her incredible value and worth, no matter what her feet looked like. They also encouraged her to continue her exercises. The result has been drastic. Havine has accomplished her goals like walking without any assistance and sitting with her legs crossed on the floor in order to eat and participate in social visits with her family and friends. Now she has two straight feet and has relearnt how to walk!
Today Havine smiles, laughs and has started loving herself. She has friends and leaves her house to hang out with
them. Her relationship with her family has also improved. She has joined one of our peer groups of young women her age with similar physical disabilities. She previously had not wanted to participate in a group but now says she looks forward to it.
We have seen her transform from a shy and insecure girl to a vibrant, young woman who is an active participant in her community.
“For many years this has been a dream of mine and now it is happening! It is because God loves us that he sent you to us.”
Eventually several relatives visited and noticed that Mustafa had greatly improved. They wanted to pass out sweets to their friends and neighbors to celebrate.
“It was my dream to be able to stand up on my own feet,” she said. “And now, my dream has come true thanks to Operation Mercy.”
When asked about the experience, she said: “I was really happy to see that people did not notice just her disability, but they appreciated her ability.”
Members of our team in Kazakhstan, in partnership with others in Almaty, have been using their occupational therapy and caring skills with people with disabilities.
A gentleman from the Ministry of Health approaches the podium at the 1st National CBR Conference in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Six years ago we had a “friendship building experience,” in the form of a major argument over priorities for children with disabilities and where they live.
Corner chairs and walking frames are essential tools for the rehabilitation of children with disabilities and for increasing their quality of life. The training was aimed specifically at how to make these assistive devices.
“It takes time to see attitudinal changes,” says Emma, “but we think we have seen changes and as long as we stay and continue working, then we will see more positive changes ahead.”
Most importantly, hope is present for Hamidjon because he has a loving mother, who, through our project, is able to experience support and acceptance, receive counselling and process her grief.
As Hala has improved physically, so has her and her family’s emotional state. She is almost able go back to school again!
Her mother speaks about Sumaya’s development with great happiness and joy. She says, “I didn’t expect to see this much development in my daughter, but now I see she can do a lot and will continue to make progress!”
“The most beautiful thing is the big smile on his face.”
She encouraged the younger girl to keep trying with the horse. Lisa received the encouragement, and her perseverance paid off.
Amina has grown in her capacity to advocate for children with disabilities, to encourage other mothers, and now has grown in confidence to share her knowledge and experience with the social assistance workers too.
This four-year-old’s name literally means “Lovely Soul.” When she grins, you can see that it’s a good fit.
“I love speaking to new mothers that come in for the first time and giving them advice and counselling them. I love seeing the change that this brings into a family.”
When nationwide shut-down for Covid-19 hit Kyrgyzstan, Nurgul knew she had to find something for the special education teachers she leads to do. So she turned the work furlough into a massive training time.
Her confidence has grown immensely, and with this growth, she has begun to teach and train other mothers in a way that contributes to making Operation Mercy’s work in Isfara truly sustainable.
“This community has helped my son to improve not only physically, but also mentally.”
Gulnoza truly brings sustained hope to the people she meets with. By caring for struggling individuals in this society, she is helping bring about the heart change that leads to life transformation.