Hassan and Hussein are twin boys born in a village in northern Tajikistan. Both were born with cerebral palsy due to brain damage during birth and have severe physical disabilities. They spent most of the first few years of their lives at home, as help for children with disabilities was not available in their area. Then a local preschool for disabled children was opened and their mother began to take the boys the 6km from their home to the group.
They were so excited to attend, as it was the first time they had left home to go to school. The boys were wide-eyed and amazed when they arrived. At first they were somewhat afraid, fearing they were going to another doctor. But when they entered the preschool where there were dolls and puppets on display, they smiled with happiness. They were overjoyed to see children, teachers and toys in the room. Although they had not been around other children before, they were delighted to interact with their new friends. Hussein was able to crawl and readily made his way to the toy shelf. Active and talkative, he asked many questions. Hassan has a more severe disability and his teacher took him on her lap and helped him participate. His favourite game was playing in a bowl of beans with his hands.
They came twice a week without fail - rain, snow or shine! Their mother and sister carried the boys the 6km each way but this became a challenge as they grew. Eventually the family saved enough money to buy some plastic strollers from the bazaar and were able to push the twins to school. Motivated by love, their mother persevered to get them to the group despite bad roads and cold weather.
Within 6 months Hassan was sitting independently. Although quite shy at first, he became more socially aware and began interacting with other kids. Hussein slowly started taking his first steps with the help of a locally-made walking frame. He loved talking during the lesson times and even became a bit naughty.
Unfortunately the time came when the poorly-made plastic strollers began to wear out. They just couldn’t last on the muddy roads filled with potholes. Hassan and Hussein were also getting bigger and could no longer fit into the small strollers, so they stayed home and did not attend the group. The family did not know what to do next. Their mother asked if there was anything we could do: perhaps we could get wheelchairs for her boys, or send a teacher to their home? However, beside not wanting her boys to remain at home, she wanted them to be with other kids, so wheelchairs were needed.
The twins had not been on our list in previous wheelchair distributions and we had been disappointed that they were not able to receive chairs. Now we asked if any had been left over, and as if in answer to prayer, we found that three chairs were available: two were exactly the right size for Hassan and Hussein! The boys were measured and assessed by Operation Mercy staff and then they waited for their new chairs to arrive. The boys were excited to get their new “wheels” and their father levelled part of the havli (yard) in front of the house where the ground was rough and muddy. On delivery day, two brand-new wheelchairs arrived and were adjusted for them. The chairs were quickly put into action a few days later as the boys enthusiastically went to school. They were so excited to be reunited with their friends and teachers. Both Hassan and Hussein now sit proudly in their chairs with big smiles on their faces, joyful because they can attend the preschool group they love!