One of the biggest explosions in the history of mankind has decimated Beirut, the Lebanese capital, in a time where the country is suffering from a global pandemic and its worst economic crisis in history. The massive explosion at the port of Beirut has caused the death of 158 people and counting, injured more than 6,000 and destroyed the homes of more than 300,000 individuals. At least 12 primary health care centers in Beirut have been affected by the blast with at least 4 of the country’s major hospitals becoming partially or fully inoperable. The number of missing persons keeps growing; the number of damaged hospitals means that the healthcare system has been overrun.
The World Rehabilitation Fund has been working in Lebanon for over 40 years with the mission to enable individuals from all over the country with functional limitations and participation restrictions to achieve community and social integration. We have worked to prevent disability, and to change the lives of persons with disabilities, without any form of discrimination, by improving their protection, livelihoods, and wellbeing.
The past year has seen us provide direct assistance services and devices for more than 3,200 PWDs in Lebanon; thanks to funding from the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration as a gift of the United States Government. We are aiming to further expand our assistance and provide more to those who need the most.
Unfortunately, needs have increased in overwhelming ways in the aftermath of the August 4th explosion and its disastrous outcomes.
People with already existing disabilities and impairments have to adapt to a new set of challenges as they may have lost their homes, their loved ones, or even their assistive devices. While the magnitude of the explosion and its repercussions means that the number of persons with disabilities, be it mental or physical, will grow exponentially.
Now more than ever, persons with impairments and disabilities need us. We must urgently act and come to the aid of those who face a new, daunting reality with unfathomable challenges.
In May of 2019 WRF utilized the funds received from an Anonymous foundation for an extremely effective short-term training program in the country of Guyana, one of the smallest countries in South America. With about 800,000 people it has a unique character as an only English-speaking country in the continent.
request for assistance came from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to
assist the only rehabilitation center with orthotics and braces for people with
neurological disorders like cerebral palsy and with severe scoliosis. A team of
rehabilitation professionals in Prosthetics and Orthotics and Physiotherapy
addressed the identified problems through hands-on training and fitting of the
devices, and worked to help improve general management of the facility. The
intervention is expected to result in a major transformation for the facility
in Guyana, the only facility serving people with these types of disabilities.
particular project is another one of the successful short-term training
projects with WRF’s long standing partner, ProsthetiKa, which led the
implementation of the project with funding from various sources. Short-term
interventions like these are very effective, and WRF is thankful to the
Anonymous foundation and to its partnership with ProsthetiKa and PAHO to be
able to continue implementing its mission and improving lives of people with
33 rehabilitation service workers received the intensive two-week training
16 children were treated for custom made leg braces. Four children and three adults received bilateral orthoses. Total of 6 pediatric AFO’s (lower extremity bracing for CP) for children from 18 months old to 10 years old, 10 AFO’s for adults (17 adults from 60 years old), and 1 young adult received HKAFO for spinal cord injury. 9 idiopathic scoliosis patients, all teenage girls, were assessed and for 2 of them TLSO scoliosis braces were fabricated and fitted
Impact of this training is anticipated to be of value in helping several hundred persons per year who are diagnosed with the problems for which the training was designed. Moreover, a relationship was set up whereby follow-up training and troubleshooting can be continued by the training team involved through future internet sessions.
In July 2018 WRF Lebanon has started the implementation of the UN OCHA funded project “Alleviating the Burdens of Displacement on Persons with Disabilities among Refugees from Syria and Their Peers in Lebanese Host Communities” (to learn more about WRF’s work in Lebanon, visit www.wrf.org.lb). The program funding of roughly $297,000 is being used to address the unmet needs of the people with disabilities among the Syrian refugees and in their host communities in Lebanon.
This six-month project will aim to fill the gaps in humanitarian assistance targeting one of the most vulnerable groups, while complimenting an ongoing assistance project currently implemented by WRF to address the needs of larger number of individuals, as well as expand the operational assistance to local Community Based Organizations.
WRF Lebanon continues to be a strong advocate for the rights and needs of the women and children with disabilities and plays an important role in ensuring direct assistance and protection to persons with physical and sensory disabilities.
The World Rehabilitation Fund (WRF) and the United States Department of State are pleased to announce a Cooperative Agreement to assist refugees with disabilities and their peers in the host communities of Lebanon. The agreement between the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and WRF will allow for a one-year Project focused on addressing the needs of persons with disabilities by filling the gaps that exist in the provision of basic rehabilitation services. The Project, implemented in partnership with native Lebanese entities, will provide assistance to a total of 1,778 direct beneficiaries and approximately 850 indirect beneficiaries through three main objectives:
To provide prosthetic and orthotic devices, prescription eyeglasses, and hearing aids; and related services.
To build the capacities of Lebanese civil society organizations to expand their services, and support WRF in providing Community Based Rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities.
To increase understanding of the protection rights and needs of persons with disabilities among stakeholders and the general public through awareness and advocacy initiatives.
Refugees with disabilities face unique protection risks and posses unique capacities, which are not always identified through traditional outreach measures. Through the generous support of the United States Government, the specific needs of persons with disabilities will get the targeted attention they deserve. “The U.S. government is pleased to support this program, whose goal is to enable Syrian refugees and Lebanese alike to fully participate in their communities,” said Mark Storella, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. Persons with disabilities are often hidden from sight by their families and are unable to accept or receive the aid being distributed to the general population. Richard Drucker, Chairman of WRF, noted, “We are honored to be partnering with the US State Department to deliver services and materials to refugees with disabilities. This greatly needed project will have life-changing impact for thousands of people in Lebanon.”
The Project is being implemented between September 1, 2017 and August 31, 2018.
WRF and ProsthetiKa have completed another successful multidisciplinary rehabilitation assistance and training project in the Ukraine.
The goal of this project was to improve the lives of disabled people by enabling them to participate in adaptive sports and recreational activities. Furthermore, by publicizing the accomplishments of the participants, we hope to ultimately improve inclusion of persons with disabilities into employment and social arenas.
The team sent to Ukraine included prosthetists, OTs, PTs, and an adaptive sports trainer. Team members were from the US, Canada, UK, and Australia.
They brought components for both upper extremity and lower extremity prostheses that allowed them to fabricate lower extremity prostheses for running and other sports, as well as upper extremity prostheses for volleyball, weight training and other activities.
This was another great opportunity for WRF to participate in a unique and exciting project that provided immediate benefit and life-long improvements for people with disabilities in the Ukraine. Other contributing partners included the Ukraine Parathletic Initiative, Canadian Ukraine International Assistance, Australian Embassy to Ukraine, and the donations of numerous individuals and foundations in Canada and the US.
As part of its ongoing effort to address and mitigate the suffering caused by the Syrian refugee crisis, WRF Lebanon has just completed a 6 month $515,000 grant from The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The grant to WRF Lebanon had wide ranging and immediate effects on the ground. The direct actions of the project supported and aided more than 720 people with disabilities, the majority of whom were women and children. Overall, 65 % of the recipients were Syrian Refugees and 35% were Lebanese citizens from the host community. The critically important materials that have been provided are: 100 prostheses, 120 orthoses, 180 hearing aids, and 300 pairs of eye glasses. Persons with disabilities remain some of the most vulnerable people within this very vulnerable population and without the work of WRF Lebanon, their vital needs would have gone unaddressed.
OCHA is the part of the United Nations Secretariat responsible for bringing together humanitarian organizations to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. OCHA also ensures that there is a coherent strategy and coordination for the overall response efforts. OCHA’s mission is to mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors to alleviate human suffering in disasters and emergencies. OCHA also advocates for the rights of people in need, promotes preparedness and prevention, and facilitates sustainable solutions.
Please join us in congratulating our colleagues at WRF Lebanon for their tremendous effort, significant impact, and dedication to helping the people of Lebanon and Syria.
Later in summer 2017, WRF and ProsthetiKa will be undertaking another multidisciplinary rehabilitation assistance and training project in the Ukraine.
The goal of this project is to improve the lives of disabled people by enabling them to participate in adaptive sports and recreational activities. Furthermore, by publicizing the accomplishments of the participants, we hope to ultimately improve inclusion of persons with disabilities into employment and social arenas.
The team being sent to Ukraine will include prosthetists, OTs, PTs, and an adaptive sports trainer. Team members are from the US, Canada, UK, and Australia.
They will be taking components for both upper extremity and lower extremity prostheses that will allow them to fabricate lower extremity prostheses for running and other sports, as well as upper extremity prostheses for volleyball, weight training and other activities.
We believe this is a great opportunity for WRF to participate in a unique and exciting project that will provide immediate benefit and life-long improvements for people with disabilities in the Ukraine. Other contributing partners include the Ukraine Parathletic Initiative, Canadian Ukraine International Assistance, Australian Embassy to Ukraine, and the donations of numerous individuals and foundations in Canada and the US.
When Frantz, who is now 34 years old, was 10, he contracted polio. The illness affected both limbs, but primarily caused injury to the right leg. He was provided an orthotic device by the orthotic technician from Ecole St. Vincent, a program that was developed many years ago with the assistance of WRF and was then the only such program in Haiti.
A few months after Bethsina was born the 2010 earthquake struck Haiti, hitting her house and resulting in a wall falling on her. When she was able to be rescued and taken to the hospital, it was found that it was necessary to amputate her right leg above the knee. Following the amputation and several months of physical therapy she was referred to a prosthetics program and fitted with an artificial limb. Continue Reading
Walking back from school, a group of children were terrified by the blasts of bombs which started to land in their neighborhood just outside of Homs, Syria in November 2012. They sought refuge in their grandfather’s house. Unfortunately, their shelter was not safe; the next mortar hit the house claiming the lives of 10 children including three sisters of Hussein and seven of their cousins. Continue Reading