Alim* who is 11 years old, cannot remember his father. He left their home when Alim was born. Alim’s mother works an 11 hour days in a tailor shop to make a living. She cannot remember when Alim started to stammer.
Alim and his mother live with his uncle and grandparents (11 family members all in all). But the family doesn’t want him in the house any more because he often picks fights with his smaller cousins. His mother cannot take him to the tailor shop any longer as her co-workers want to work without their heads covered and Alim is now too old to be there among them. Alim was expelled from school when he tried to defend his mother being called bad names because of her divorce – and beat up the bully. So where should he go?
After a long search Alim’s mother found an NGO which runs a day-school. On enrollment she had just one request, she said: "Please don’t even accept him if you might reject and kick him out in the end." The staff decided to take him in and give him a new chance. The day-school staff recognized Alim’s stammering problem and looked for professional help. Alim was referred to our Disabled Afghan Refugee Project (DARP) and was taken into the speech therapy program. He soon started to misbehave. What should the therapist do?
The DARP rehabilitation social worker and the therapist sat together, collected more background details of Alim’s story and designed a motivational plan for Alim. Small, reachable goals are set with him. Each time he reaches a goal he is allowed to put together a piece of a wooden helicopter – something he had been dreaming of having for a long time.
"My brain is too stupid for this," Alim says to himself repeatedly while trying to fit the pieces together. The DARP staff encourage him, saying: "You have a clever brain – look what you have learned already."
Today Alim does his homework diligently, he comes to therapy regularly by himself and his eyes shine when the social worker and therapist praise him for his achievements and bring out the helicopter. Quickly he finds the next pieces, sands them carefully and fits them in – one piece at the time. One day this helicopter will take off and fly...
* name changed