Faraz* lost his sight in one eye and part of his arm when a mine exploded a few years ago in Afghanistan. The shame he feels about his situation is made worse by the hurtful comments of his loved ones who accuse him of not trying to find a job. In reality, Iran has a high unemployment rate. With several million Afghan refugees looking for work, a man missing a hand hardly has a chance of finding employment. Countless rejections have left Faraz feeling hopeless and full of shame.
A father enters carrying a precious bundle in his arms. One can hardly believe that his daughter Shirin* is already 11 years of age. She is the size of a six-year old and her cerebral palsy hinders her ability to make controlled movements. The only way she can communicate is through her smile. Her illiterate father and mother know very little about how to support Shirin’s development. They dread the future, as taking care of their daughter becomes more and more challenging.
Each of these families lives with deep shame. Their isolation from Iranian society because of their disabilities is exacerbated by their status as Afghan refugees. Many are not able to find good, if any, work, nor provide adequate nutrition for their families. As the spiral of poverty turns, unbearable living conditions compound the risk of illness and disease.
In order to increase the physical health, employment capacity, and social integration of Afghan refugees with disabilities in Iran, Operation Mercy runs the Disabled Afghan Refugees Rehabilitation Project. This project supports rehabilitation by connecting refugees with disabilities with specialized services and therapies, by enhancing their psycho social well-being through counseling and by increasing their awareness of skills training opportunities. Together we can restore dignity and community to isolated and ashamed Afghan refugees in Tehran.