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Now employing a staff of almost 90, 18 of whom are physically disabled, its services cover schooling for some 120 children from grades one through six. AHS also provides rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapy, orthotic aids, hydrotherapy, medical support, an early intervention program, and social, psychological and nutritional counseling as well as its revolutionary “outreach program.”

The main aim of the AHS outreach is to open its arms to as many children in remote and poor areas as possible and offer them services otherwise inaccessible. Community Based Rehabilitation started in 1982 with the idea of integrating the disabled into their local communities.

The program is a joint effort between the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf, led by Father Andrew de Carpentier – a Dutch Anglican priest – and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) since there are more than 1.6 million Palestinian refugees registered in Jordan.

Specialists from different rehabilitation centers are divided into comprehensive teams, covering all disabilities, with Father Andrew coordinating their visits to communities. Outreach assistance today covers 42 programs in more than 25 locations, serving some 50 towns, refugee camps and rural villages. Its work benefits an estimated 2,900 people annually.

But obstacles never cease and “our biggest challenge each year is how to cover our 300,000 Jordanian dinar (USD $420,000) running cost,” Princess Majda said. “We depend heavily on funding from national and international organizations.”

The past year was particularly tough due to the prevailing global political circumstances resonating from 11 September 2001. Worldwide donations are barely trickling through, especially to Middle East-based NGOs, the Princess said.

“Jordan gets easily forgotten amid the roiling situation in the region,” she said.

“Outsiders assume that all is well in this country since it is quiet and peaceful, but we have heavy economic troubles.”

The threat of not securing enough funds to run AHS remains the most pressing issue for the Princess and her 15 board members who have steered the center through good times and bad. Their vision of turning AHS into a premier resource, referral, research and training center in the Middle East seems close, yet distant right now.

“But God has been with us,” Mrs. Bdeir said. “We are thankful for his help. He opened hearts, purses and made real a dream we truly did not know we had.”

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Sahar Aloul is a staff writer for The Jordan Times, based in Amman.

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Tags: Jordan Health Care Disabilities