1. December 2022 Project reports, Lebanon

Challenges for families with special needs children

Living with a disabled child presents many challenges for families. Families who are also refugees or living as refugees in a foreign country face even greater challenges.

In Lebanon, Cap Anamur cares for several Syrian families, most of whom receive little or no support for the care of their children.

Syrian refugees live on the margins of society

The life of Syrian refugees in Lebanon is very difficult, not only since the increasing economic crisis in the country. The country’s economic situation is catastrophic. The government has long been unable to take care of the more than 2 million Syrian people in the country. They are usually denied access to the health or education system and income opportunities are very limited.

Under these circumstances, families with disabled children are usually unable to provide them with adequate treatment. Because many of the Syrian families live at the subsistence level.

Cap Anamur has been running a physiotherapy practice for disabled children since 2018

In our physiotherapy practice in Sidon, in the south of Lebanon, about 40 boys and girls with physical or mental disabilities receive help for rehabilitation. A special therapy plan is created for each child. With regular treatments, the children’s health usually improves significantly. They learn to talk, to walk or to do small everyday things like brushing their teeth or eating alone.

Nasr – one of 40 children we treat monthly

We have been treating seven-year-old Nasr in our physical therapy practice for about 1.5 years. His father came to Lebanon from Syria to work. His mother came to Lebanon for a short visit in 2014. Since war broke out in her native Syrian village at the same time, she could not return. Nasr was born in Lebanon in 2015. He was physically disabled from birth. The long hospital stay after his birth and numerous operations have forced the family to sell their belongings in Syria. This was the only way they could afford to treat their child. Since then, they have been living almost penniless in a refugee settlement in Sidon.

The family could not afford treatment until now

Since the father also became temporarily incapacitated due to an accident, the two eldest sons have had to work to provide for the family. The mother cannot pursue any occupation because she has to take care of Nasr. The family does not receive any help from the state. None of the 5 children go to school, because the parents have no money for school attendance. It was also not possible to finance an urgently needed treatment for Nasr.

The boy has now been treated in our practice since 2020. During this time, he has made significant progress. At the beginning of the therapy he had completely stiffened limbs. He could neither walk nor get up from the floor independently. Meanwhile, he can stand independently for a short time and walk a distance of six meters. With his left hand, which he could not use before, he can now reach and hold on to walk. Nasr has had much more joy in life since then. He can move more independently or eat on his own. These small advances relieve the family, at least for brief moments.

There are many more challenges

But the family is left with many more worries that they can hardly solve because of the existential hardship. Important treatments, for example with a radiologist, are not financially possible. Even diapers, which Nasr needs, cost more than the family can generate.

Therefore, we support them, as well as about 2,000 other Syrian and Lebanese families, with regular food packages.