Pulling an Operation Mercy worker aside one day during a community-based rehabilitation (CBR) group in Isfara that her son, Hamidjon*, had been attending for the last two years, a mother asked a heartfelt question: “Will my son ever get better?”
Although it’s a question on the hearts of many mothers of a child with a disability, the answer is not easy. Hamidjon has a severe learning disability, and because of this he has not learnt to speak and struggles to concentrate and participate in activities. We cannot promise that life will be easy or that Hamidjon will speak or go to school or will not continue to need full-time care. But hope starts in the small things—knowing that progress is possible, even in the tiniest steps.
The worker talked to Hamidjon’s mother about the ways she has already seen him progress since he started coming to the group. In the beginning, he could hardly sit still during a group lesson or song time; now he participates and points to objects. Though he has not learned to speak, he hears well and demonstrates understanding when asked to do something. In the CBR group, Hamidjon also started learning simple sign language, which has become ‘his language’—a way to make his thoughts and wishes known to his mum. He enjoys the group games and, through this project, has participated in community events with other children.
At home, Hamidjon’s mother also reported that he has finally learnt to go to the toilet on his own, such a big help to his mother, who must also take care of the house and other children.
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. Hope is evident when Hamidjon runs into the CBR group to greet his teachers with a big smile and a wave. This kind of hope cannot really ever be measured or put into words.