Noor Al Awad, Intern in the Regional Office in Jordan
Teacher Sanaa Deeb, 48 years old, is an active volunteer with Branches of Mercy in Karak, Jordan. Sanaa came to Jordan in 2010 across the land border from Syria and began volunteering with the organization in November 2019. One of her greatest skills is her ability to deal with children from different environments regardless of physical or social abilities. She was able to teach 9-year-old “Ahmed” – a fake name –, a student at Branches of Mercy, and she was his favorite teacher as she tried her best to make him feel valued and respected again. Sanaa says: “The school had affected his mental health more than his physical health. He was bullied by his classmates at school and in his neighborhood as well.”
Ahmad has physical disabilities in his right arm and has an artificial limb in his left leg, he was often bullied by his peers, causing challenges for his mental health. After only one year of working with Sanaa, however, Ahmed slowly regained his passion.
Ahmed participated in the home study groups, where kids take important after-school classes. Sometimes he took responsibility for maintaining the class discipline as “the class leader” while helping with other group activities as well.
When leading activities that required high levels of physical exertion, Sanaa says she felt for Ahmed when he could not fully participate or when the other students reacted with comments or looks. To address this, she worked to help him gain back his confidence, while also subtly raising the students’ awareness regarding his physical disabilities. According to Sanaa, when dealing with students with special needs, it is vital to provide continuous support and avoid discrimination between them and their peers. She explains, “I did not treat him differently from the rest. Even when he gave me the wrong answers, I did not show any exaggerated sympathy to him.”
Sana’a describes Ahmed as a smart and funny boy, and she noticed that his self-confidence has improved significantly. Similarly, his peers have begun to respect and understand him more. Thanks to her commitment to his integration into the class, Ahmed has improved his mental health and school performance. Furthermore, he has built a strong relationship with her, staying in contact even after his year with her had ended. “I hope I can stay longer as a student in her class,” Ahmed says.
From 2019 to 2020, Vision Hope International and our local Jordanian partners have worked with 22 children with different disabilities. We have supported them by enhancing their self-confidence, highlighting their strengths, and letting them discover their abilities. We helped them confront society, accept themselves, and integrate with other children. Everyone has a role in our treatment plan: teachers, supervisors, parents, and also friends.”
Not only did this experience benefit Ahmed, but it has also reinforced Sanaa’s abilities and allowed her to discover her skills by dealing with children with special needs, Sanaa says gratefully: “Thank God this child has been put in my path. He enabled me to learn more about such children.”
Sanaa aspires to teach teenagers in the future, as she also felt she had a gift in dealing with them while raising her daughters. She recommends volunteering as it benefits people personally and allows them to make a difference in society. “Volunteering helped me build relationships and connect with the outside world, it brought me closer to people, improved my self-confidence and communication skills a lot, ” says Sanaa. She adds: “Volunteering makes the individual feel valued.”
“Branches of Mercy has inspired me to come up with many ideas from previous practical experiences through pieces of training, meetings, and organised work. I have also learnt how to communicate and work with children making them learn while playing using training skills and methods.”, Sanaa says. She appreciates the fact that she can deal with students with special needs from now on and she is happy about her achievements.