Fathers as caregivers accompanying their children with disabilities to the therapy sessions

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In the Occupational Therapy Room that is crowded with mothers and their children with disabilities, there you see Mohammad’s father “Udai” practicing the exercises he is being trained on with the therapist while attending the therapy session with his son Mohammad. Enduring the hardships of everyday travel from Qarawat Bani Zaid all the way to Jerusalem to receive comprehensive rehabilitation services at the Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre (JPBC), Udai bears daily frustration of the checkpoints and the difficulty of transportations, accompanied by his two and a half year old child.

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Mohammad’s father commented on his experience at JPBC: “My wife stayed with Mohammad at the Centre for the first week, but could not take further leaves due to her profession as a physics teacher for secondary classes in a school of one of the nearby villages. Instead, I decided to escort Mohammad to his therapies in order to ensure the best development through his treatment and provide him with the needed support during the therapies.

Mohammad had a Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA) stroke when he was in his mother’s womb, which resulted in having a left-sided hemiparesis. The stroke caused damage in the motor nerves of his left side, leaving Mohammad partially paralyzed.

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Regarding the development of Mohammad after being admitted to the Centre, Udai noted: “There has been a major impact on Mohammad’s condition after receiving comprehensive rehabilitation therapies at JPBC. My little child now can hold light things in his left palm in addition to better moving his left leg while using the stairs. I usually pass all the trainings I get to my wife and we help each other to apply what is learned with Mohammad. My son’s treatment is not a burden on me; nonetheless it is my number one priority. My wife and I share the burdens of life together; I am not less responsible than her regarding our son’s health care.”

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It is noteworthy to mention that the Mother Empowerment Program is funded by the Canadian Representative Office. The Program aims at empowering the family as a whole entity and creating change in the mindsets of fathers in terms of providing care for their children with disabilities besides the mother.