The story of a warrior mother
Sondos, a 33-year-old mother of 4-year-old Isra, has been coming to JPBC with her child since 2015. In addition to the rehabilitation services provided for Isra’, she has also been joining the Mother’s Empowerment Program (MEP). Sondos who has five children speaks openly about the challenges she faces raising five children. Due to the amount of work involved when starting a family, she had to stop her education after graduating high school, and only now is finding it possible to pursue her higher education. When discussing her daughter Isra, she is open about the challenges and deep worry she had for her daughter’s future.
She explains that Isra was prematurely born by C-section. When the baby was born her skin was blue, which was an indication that she experienced a lack of oxygen. However, Isra was not treated for this right away and instead was placed in an incubator for 17 days in order to help the baby gain weight. During this time, she received only periodic treatments with oxygen as it was not recognized as needed at the time and when Sondos left the hospital she was assured that her daughter was perfectly healthy. However, by the time Isra was 2 months old, her mother started to notice that her child was very rigid and stiff. Further concern grew as she began to notice her daughter’s lack of normal response to her mother’s voice and other noises so they started to worry that Isra may have a hearing disability.
At the age of 6 months, and during a regular check-up at the local Mother Care Clinic, the pediatrician recommended that the child be taken to a neurologist to be assessed. This led Sondos to go into shock as all she could think of was a dire future for her child and was overwhelmed with the idea that Isra would be mentally disabled. Returning home her shock was shared by the whole family who was all very unclear and hopeless about the young baby’s future. In the months that followed, the young mother and family hid their daughter away. Sondos remembered feeling a huge sense of shame and feeling that her daughter’s condition was her fault. When Isra was 10 months old she was assessed and diagnosed by a neurologist with CP as a result of lack of oxygen.
Although Sondos felt hopeless, her strong commitment to her child led her to not give up and soon she learned about JPBC and visited Dr. Wadah at the Farrah Centre in Nablus. Soon after the child was referred for treatment at the Child Rehabilitation Centre at JPBC.
When Sondas and Isra first arrived at JPBC, both mother and daughter received a whole package of services; comprehensive rehabilitation was provided for the child that included physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapies, hydrotherapy, in addition to music and sensory therapies. Also, the mother joined the Mothers Empowerment Program, where she received training on shadow therapy learning the proper techniques and exercises she can use at home to support her daughter’s improvement. Also, she received psychosocial support through meetings with a social worker both individually and in group settings, Furthermore, she attended educational sessions designed to increase knowledge about a range of topics including nutrition, hygiene as well as child rights and protection principles particular to children with disabilities. Through this program and with each admission, Sondas began to feel more comfortable and empowered through all of the skills she gained, which has been also shared with her family.
The commitment to the treatment plan has had an amazing impact on Isra and transformed her and her family’s life. At the time of her first admission at 10 months old, she couldn’t respond, had limited to no use on her left side or sit up on her own, missing many key developmental milestones. After consecutive admissions, by the age of 2, Isra was able to use her left arm, use the toilet instead of diapers and eat on her own. Now at 4, she uses a walker to move around, and speaks with her bright and happy personality coming out. Sondos watches her daughter’s progress and feels more hopeful about her future, but explains that visiting JPBC and participating in the MEP act as her motivation to remain positive.
Sondos now is a member of a local charity that aims to support people with disabilities and through this initiative 100 individuals are now receiving needed rehabilitation therapies and support. Sondos feels empowered and can see how her personality has become stronger, which motivates her to not only continue to support her daughter but also gives her the courage to reach to achieve her own potential as well.