„I feel grateful for having the opportunity to help others.”

Mariam Jaafar is part of our project in Libanon as a physiotherapist. She talks about the personal meaning the work for Cap Anamur has for her and which challenges she has to face.

In our practice for physiotherapy in Sidon, Libanon, we’re treating children with a mental or physical disability. Two physiotherapists work with up to 20 children per day. Mariam Jaafar supports our team since August 2020 as a therapist and has most recently helped Mohamad, a 2-year-old boy with Down’s syndrome.

Mariam, please tell us about your work with Mohamad!

“The last patient we released from our clinic is a 2-year-old boy named Mohamad, who suffers from Down’s syndrome. When Mohamad first came to us, he could barely crawl. He showed no signs of balance, not even while sitting, he sometimes stood, but he needed help for that. Within eight months, he learned to walk, move the stairs up and down (by holding on), stand on one leg (by holding on) and kick a ball. Here he grew almost independent.

The hardest part of it all was the fact that he has an attention deficit and is a highly stubborn person. That made it quite a challenge to follow a disciplined working schedule. He never wanted to do what he was told and quickly became bored. That’s why I always needed to show creativity and come up with games that served the purpose of the particular exercise, like searching and collecting balls in the room, or challenging his mother to a run (initially with the aid of his rollator, later on his own).“

What comes to your mind when you think about your work for Cap Anamur?

“It’s definitely a challenge. You can never just follow a universal treatment plan. Every patient is different, and even if they were diagnosed with the same disability – their development and their reaction to the treatment are completely diverse. You always need to be prepared and creative. What’s always exciting is first meeting the boys and girls. Most of them have already seen so many doctors and received physiotherapeutic treatments, they scream out loud when they see me in my white scrubs, which they immediately associate with pain. Thus, it is my responsibility to create a comfortable atmosphere for the children before anything else. Luckily, that always works out well.

Having fun is also a huge part of my work. The kids are always so sweet and funny, and us colleagues all have a good relationship to one another.

And, of course, working on this project is a convenient chance for personal growth. To work with people in need and listen to their stories, when they express their struggles, it makes me realize how blessed I am. You learn to value the little things in life more and you realize how privileged you are.”

Can you tell us about some special moments from your work?

“My first day at work was a special moment. My dream has always been to be part of an aid project. Personally, I think that the dignity of a human being lies in being there for others. Therefore, I’m glad I’ve got the opportunity to help other people, and see a smile on hopeful faces every day.

I always feel happy when I get to experience the first accomplishments, the developmental progress of a child together with their parents – the first twist, raising the head, crawling for the first time, the first step – the parents’ joy is unmeasurable, and you get this soothing feeling that none of your hard labor was for nothing.”

When the children smile at me or when we laugh together, or when the parents report that their little one had been waiting impatiently to return to us after two or three days. That pushes me to give my best.”