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Sham al-Akhras, 10, has only known war since the Syrian civil war started in March 2011, when she was an infant. If the brutal conflict is physically and emotionally distressing for regular Syrians, it is all the more so for al-Akhras, who has to live with her disability under the harsh conditions of a refugee camp in northern Syria’s Idlib.
Al-Akhras is unable to speak and can barely walk. Her father, Maher, told VOA that lack of access to medical facilities in Idlib’s war zone has prevented him from even diagnosing her condition, let alone getting proper treatment.
But despite the great barriers, al-Akhras has turned into a strong little girl, determined to fully live her childhood moments of carefree play and uncontrollable giggles.
“She is an independent and a brave little soul,” Maher said. “Sham does not allow us to help her in her daily life, like helping her stand up, put on her clothes or eat. She likes to do things by herself.”
Al-Akhras and her parents were displaced from Aleppo when the war escalated between the Syrian regime and rebels in 2012. They are settled in a refugee camp in Harem town near the Turkish border, where al-Akhras is enrolled in the first grade at the camp school.
Despite a lack of special accommodations for her at the school building, she insists on going there to learn the Arabic alphabet and work on coloring, shapes and other educational activities.
“The displacement was harsh on Sham. We left Aleppo because of the violence that took over our city. We lost our house in an airstrike by the regime. We are facing financial hardships; and adding to all this is the absence of professional medical aid and treatment because of the war that has made it harder for us to find good care for our daughter,” al-Akhras’ father said.
With no real end in sight to the war in Syria, al-Akhras is only one among thousands of disabled Syrians who have to carry the heavy burden of the conflict, according to rights organizations and experts following the plight of disabled Syrians.
Stigma and exclusion
Fayez Orabi, a Syrian doctor operating from Turkey, told VOA that many disabled Syrians also are suffering from stigma and exclusion within their communities, in addition to the effects of the war. He said neglect and lack of psychological help most likely would leave permanent psychological scars, especially on those who became impaired by the war.
“People who were disabled by the war suddenly find themselves unable to interact with their communities and can’t earn a living for their families. This adds a sense of guilt and shame in them because they have lost their abilities to be active like they used to be,” Orabi said.
Orabi said that disabled Syrians, facing an overwhelmingly unfavorable attitude, have almost no chance of getting into the work force to become productive members in their communities and breadwinners for their families.
“When a family member is disabled, especially when this person is the main provider to the family, the entire family is affected. Providing people with disabilities with an opportunity to be productive will support the entire family,” Orabi said.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the British-based war monitor, the Syrian civil war has cost the country about 560,000 lives with millions of people displaced.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said Monday that about 1.5 million people in Syria are now living with permanent impairments because of the conflict, including 86,000 people who have lost limbs. It estimated 3.3 million Syrian children are exposed to risks from explosive hazards such as land mines.
The agency said children with disabilities were particularly exposed to the devastation of war, and it asked aid organizations to help provide access to aids like wheelchairs, canes and prosthetics.
“In conflict, children with disabilities are among the most vulnerable,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF’s Middle East and North Africa regional director. “They often require specialized treatment and services. As children, their needs differ from those of adults. Without access to services, schools and assistive products like wheelchairs, many children with disabilities face a very real risk of exclusion, neglect and stigmatization as the unrelenting conflict continues.”
Local activists in many areas have introduced initiatives to support people with disabilities by providing them with medical treatment and reintegrating them into the society. They say international aid is helpful but not enough — and a change of attitude is needed in the society to address the problem.
Hassan Hamzeh, an activist working for the rights of persons with disabilities in Idlib, said effective assistance should ensure that disabled Syrians are empowered to serve as active citizens without feeling shame because of their conditions.
Hamzeh worked with other local activists to start a school for children with disabilities in Idlib, though he notes their initiative has remained local and limited because of the lack of money and support.
“Helping people with disabilities to be self-sufficient and independent in life will pave the way for them to be active members in the Syrian society that needs every contribution to rebuild the country,” Hamzeh said. (VOA)
By Siddhi Jain
The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.
Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.
Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background
'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash
Written for a global audience, the book is targeted at kids between the ages of five and 10, the reason it is embellished with colourful images of families of different types is to appeal to children's sense of sight and drive home the message at the same time. Borthakur believes children are the best place to start because the ages between five and 10 are the most formative, where little ones pick up habits, beliefs and perceptions.
The Guwahati-born author says, "With this book, I'm not trying to take away the job of parents in forming habits, I simply want to do my part as a parent. It is important that we impart the right values in our kids in a bid to build a better, more inclusive and tolerant global society that is fair to everyone." The author's first attempt at a book was an Assamese poetry 'Anubhav', published in 2010.
Set to be published under the label of Author's Channel, the book is like an adventure; a journey into uncharted territories, untouched subjects and matters long ignored. In her words. "The book takes a critical stand in defense of people in society who have had to undergo severe emotional torture for no cause of theirs. It is a terrible conception to think such people any less of a human just for being different," says publisher Aruna Naidu. By September 30, this title, priced at Rs 299, will be available online and in offline bookstores. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Book, children, Guwahati, Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories, moral, story, kids, discrimination, equality
If you feel that clean and well-groomed hands are just an essential prerequisite for women, you might like to think twice. Men should equally pay attention to their hands because our hand houses 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimeter of its skin. You can easily assume what havoc it can create in our body because in India we have the culture of eating with our hands and spaces beneath nails can become breeding heaven for germs. Moreover, clean and maintained hands boost confidence in their daily life activities. Therefore, it's important to keep your hands clean irrespective of your gender by washing or sanitizing at regular intervals. And, to keep them groomed, you don't have to visit a salon.
Rajesh U Pandya, Managing Director, KAI India, gives easy and completely doable tips to follow at home:
* Refrain from harsh soaps: You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. Your soap can have a moisturizing element in it like aloe vera or shea butter. Ensure that you're washing your hands with normal water as hot water can make your hand's skin dry and scaly.
You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. | Photo by Aurélia Dubois on Unsplash
* Clip your nails regularly: Make use of your personal nail clipper to cut your nails. After cutting your nails at a comfortable length also file them using a nail filer. Never share your nail care clipper as the germs can get transferred to your loved ones. Also, don't forget to use grime remover to remove hidden germs in corners and beneath nails. Also, you may like to file your nails to have a smooth finish.
* Good quality Nail Clipper: Do not use a rusted or chromium coated nail clipper as it might be harmful to skin and might cause dangerous bacterial infections.
* Stop the habit of nail chewing: Sometimes anxiety or extreme boredom can lead to chewing of nails. This habit only makes your nails uneven and ugly. Sometimes, our unclean nail folds give rise to viral, bacterial or fungal infections, which in turn can make us sick if we chew our nails.
Make use of your personal nail clipper to cut your nails. | Pixabay
* Exfoliate your hands: Similar to the way you exfoliate your face; your hands also need it. It helps to keep the dry skin at bay and keep your hands soft. You can buy a scrub or make one at home using brown sugar and olive oil. After scrubbing, you need to massage your hands with moisturizer.
Similar to the way you exfoliate your face; your hands also need it. It helps to keep the dry skin at bay and keep your hands soft. | Wikipedia
* Don't use your nails as tools: Always keep in mind that your nails are like jewels. Never use them to pry things open such as pop cans, removing keys from the ring, opening letters, or scraping off labels. This results in unnecessary breakage of nails, making your hands look dirty.
Never use your nails to pry things open such as pop cans, removing keys from the ring, opening letters or scraping off labels. | Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash
* Be aware of nail or cuticle inflammation or redness: If there are any signs of infection, disinfect the skin as soon as possible with an anti-bacterial or anti-fungal ointment.
(Article originally written by N.Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Nails, groom, hand, exfoliate, chew, nail clipper, bite, cuticle
Bitcoin has become an essential crypto asset in modern portfolios and investment funds. The confidence generated in this cryptocurrency will depend a lot on the diversification that companies make in their balance sheets in Bitcoin and the increase of institutional investors that allocate a percentage of their funds in this crypto. American fund manager Cathie Wood makes some interesting predictions, both in the rise that the Bitcoin price will experience in the next 5 years, suggesting these institutional investors allocate 5% of their funds; this will help leverage the Bitcoin market.
Bitcoin will grow by a tenfold
Bitcoin is projected to grow by 10 times its current value in five years, i.e., it could reach $500,000. Of course, this will require companies to invest in cryptocurrencies. This makes it necessary to increase the weight of Bitcoin on balance sheets through investments. One of the investment gurus who supports this prediction is Catherine Wood. Contrarily, Ray Dalio, despite being clear that relying on cash is not a good strategy, views Bitcoin with suspicion, although he calls for its investment. This behavior is due to the actions of governments against the cryptocurrency market.
If something is undoubted is the vertiginous increase that cryptocurrencies have had in general, they have risen more than 60% so far this year. So, even when some governments are trying to regulate cryptocurrencies, they will fail. This attempt to regulate will end up triggering even more cryptos, especially Bitcoin, which is the oldest and most solid of that market.
Bitcoin, is the oldest and most solid of the market. | Photo by Executium on Unsplash
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The current Bitcoin price means is time to buy:
The current price of bitcoin invites you to buy, and perhaps it would be foolhardy not to. In either case, bitcoin will always represent money. Maybe some external factors generate some misgivings, but if you refuse to invest in cryptocurrencies, you are basically denying the near future, it would be as if you didn't have a cell phone or internet.
In India, more and more people are becoming convinced of the benefits of holding some Bitcoin. This can be clearly seen in the rapid increase in the number of new accounts at crypto exchanges such as WazirX and CoinDCX.
ALSO READ: How can you trade in Bitcoin in India?
Bitcoin, despite its fluctuations, represents an excellent financial strategy. The support users give is significant. The same cannot be said of the FIAT currencies, which have lost value and support, showing how fragile they are, being subjected to a constant devaluation. As long as confidence in cryptos grows, the foundations will continue to be laid to maintain their rise and to be able to continue making transactions. We know this by previous experience, as has happened with Ether, thanks mainly to the growing activity of Defi and NFT, i.e. decentralized finance and non-fungible tokens.
Remember that when you invest in Bitcoin, you can do it by buying or trading. When you want to make these transactions do it in a secure Exchange, study your finances to invest, manage the risk, and learn to manage your portfolio efficiently.