Feature: Disabled children overcome psychological problem in summer camp in Gaza

Tough memories are still haunting Thaers Jouda every single day when he reacts with that moment when his house was destroyed over heads of all his family members in the latest Israeli war in 2014.

“I was playing with my siblings at our house garden, but suddenly I heard a huge explosion followed by a cloud of thick dust,” Jouda said, adding that it is the last thing that he remembered before entering a coma.

Days later, he woke up at the hospital, finding that he lost his mother, two brothers, two sisters and his leg.

The life seemed dark in his eyes after losing his family and he can no longer do the things that he used to do, such as playing football, riding bikes and flying the kites.

“I hate to meet people, especially the children at the same age as me,” he said, adding that when he saw the sympathy in other people’s eyes, he felt that he was not a complete child.

“I became a lonely boy without mother, sisters, brothers with unknown fate” Jouda said with breaking voice.

In 2014, Israel launched a military campaign called “Operation Protective Edge” against Islamic Hamas movement in Gaza Strip after heavy rocket fired against Israeli cities.

The war lasted 50 days. On the Palestinian side, 2,251 people, of whom 1,462 were civilians, were killed, while 67 soldiers were killed along with six civilians on the Israeli side, according the UN report released in 2015.

Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), a non-governmental organization, provides physical and psychological services for disabled children in Gaza Strip since 1987.

“Thousands of disabled children had received our physical helps,” Abed Al-Aziz Abed, spokesman of PCRF told Xinhua, adding that “but they also need the psychological support.”

So, the organization has launched on Monday the first summer camp in the Middle East, which called “Camp Ability” for children with amputations, in Khan Younis city in the southern Gaza Strip.

The camp targeted 53 children who lost their limbs because of the Israeli wars and congenital malformations.

“This camp aims to provide social activities for the children, as well as teach them how to manage with the daily challenge of life as an amputee,” Abed said.

Jouda, is one of the participants of the camp where he is playing all the time, laughing and meeting several friends.

“Here I found the real life without tough comments, and I can do everything that I would like freely,” Jouda said while he was swimming in the pool, adding that he was afraid to go to the sea in past years.

Ahed Hamdan, a nine-year-old child, is another amputee who joined the camp. She was born without leg and usually feels that she is an abnormal girl.

Hamdan, who based in Alburaige refugee camp, in the middle of the Gaza strip, has got new friendship with girls. She feels that she is stronger now and gets fun by playing without any shyness.

“Now I have self-confidence through the activities that we are playing here in the camp,” she said, adding that she hopes to continue her life happily and normally.

She hopes to achieve her dream one day to be a doctor to treat the disabled people.

“We hope to bring hope, love and healing to our children in the Middle East,” Abed said, adding that the PCRF is going to continue its programs that aim to provide the physical and psychological services, and helps the disabled people achieve their goals.