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ZARQA – Our Lady of Peace Center, which provides free care for people with disabilities in Jordan, through the Latin Patriarchate, signed a new partnership with Handicap International to provide prostheses and splints in Zarqa, Irbid, Russeifa and Ramtha.

More than 50 patients served in Zarqa

In the heart of the Palestinian camp in Zarqa, in the old market between the multiple fabric displays, the Zarka Rehabilitation Center (CBC) is barely visible. Yet, this place is an oasis in a society where disability is still largely hidden and yet very present: 13% of the Jordanian population is affected by disability, which rises to 20% when we isolate the Syrian refugees from the country, for many were mutilated by war. Although the CBC is supported by reputable organizations, it lacked a significant partner that would provide different kind of prosthesis and orthosis to people with disabilities in Zarqa.

The NGO Handicap International, which manages several care programs within the CBC, therefore sought the expertise from Our Lady of Peace Center, which has a manufacturing unit for lower dentures and splints: more than 50 patients will thus be equipped. There are many profiles in the image of the cultural mosaic that characterizes Jordan: many Palestinian residents, and also Jordanians or Syrian refugees who have fled the conflict. “The majority of patients do not have the courage to come by themselves often out of shame. It is for this reason that we have volunteers who live in the camp and who are very familiar with the environment, whose mission is to inform us about people in need,” explains Hamza, coordinator for Handicap International.

A first care day for the Our Lady of Peace Center team

Today, Our Lady of Peace Center technicians examined nine patients. Manufacturing a prosthesis or a splint requires technical expertise and listening that Sajida, head of the service, puts a point of honor to respect. To be fitted, the patient must be physically and psychologically ready. Little Nehad is four years old and suffers from a congenital disease called “spina bifida” which gradually leads to paralysis of his lower limbs. The team of Our Lady of Peace Center will make two beautiful splints for him to curb this paralysis. Despite the crowd of faces leaning over his small body to take his measurements, he has a huge smile and not at all frightened by the camera.

This day is also a great learning opportunity for Hussam, Khalid and Wissam, young Syrian refugees who have been undergoing eight months of training for prosthetists at Our Lady of Peace Center. It is a solid technical course that gives them a useful foundation that they could use very soon, perhaps in Syria. This morning of “casting” is a first step before the next sessions that will allow patients to try their prostheses. The team departed tired but happy of their efforts for the day and conscious of the richness of its technical contribution here.

This partnership with Handicap International is designed to overcome the shortage of care in some areas in Jordan. The partnership is committed to provide the same services in other cities: in Russeifa, Irbid and Ramtha, the latter two cities being particularly marked by Syrian immigration.

Claire Guigou

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