Hands Up Foundation is now Action Syria

International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD)

Today, Sunday 03 December, marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). While we will forgive you if this day was not hot on your radar, we believe this needs to be changed. As a day which offers a chance to increase our understandings of the issues faced by those with disabilities, and rally together to produce support, we cannot allow it to go unnoticed. 

In Syria, much like IDPD here, the rights and dignity of people with disabilities often go without recognition or celebration. During periods of conflict – to which Syria is tragically no stranger – children with disabilities are some of the most marginalised; having a child with disabilities severely impacts a household’s socio-economic status for the worse. While the reasons for this are multiple, it is, in part, due to the lack of essential services and support. Without access to health services, injuries and disabilities remain untreated and worsen, resulting in increased disability and significant disruptions to education and development. Having been held in the grips of conflict for over a decade, more than 1/4 of people aged over 2 years old in Syria have disabilities (Humanitarian Needs Assessment Programme, 2021). The severity of this situation is extreme, but hope is not lost. 

With our partners PAC and Koalaa, we are working hard on a prosthetics programme, which reduces the hardships of people and families with disabilities. Feeling unsafe, facing unemployment, unequal pay prospects and receiving insufficient income should not be anyone’s reality.  

This year, the theme of IDPD is “transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world.” Providing Koalaa’s lightweight, cost-effective and, crucially, functional prostheses to patients with upper limb difference, also provides freedom of movement, dignity and opportunity. Having just embarked on this project, we are incredibly excited that the first beneficiaries are receiving their Koalaa prostheses in Syria. The innovation involved in the production of these prostheses is incredible, with their presence allowing their owner to choose from multiple different tools, all specifically designed for different activities. Rama, aged 12, was a participant in our pilot project, and received a prosthetic. She said that “the first thing I did after putting this on is to ride a bicycle. I was very happy I could grab the handle and balance myself.” Equipping people with the ability to participate in the everyday activities they deserve is what makes this work so worthwhile. This International Day of Persons with Disabilities, will you help by giving someone a hand up? 

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