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AAMAL : promotion the rights and dignity of the disabled

The Syrian Organization for the Disabled, better known as AAMAl, is a non-Governmental organization , which was established by the Syrian First Lady Ms. Asma Al-Assad in 2002.  It dedicates its efforts to improve level standars for people  with special needs by acting as a venue for change, pursuing an integrated approach, and networking with others to achieve the broadest possible  impact.

AAMAL  activities are mainly  concentrated  on integrating  the disabled into the Syrian society through  establishing and operating  specialized centers for rehabilitation of the disabled ,   ensuring  continued training to cadres assigned in this area , with special concentration  on  practical applications and urging authorities concerned to enact and implement  legislations guaranteeing rights of the disabled.

Other  activities are  launching awareness campaigns and dissemination of awareness on the disability and encouraging ways  enabling society integrating  the disabled, as well as  cooperating with local, regional and international organizations concerned to further  support the disability issue. AAMAL  is  responsible for the management of multiple Service Centers in Damascus.  It is also responsible for the day-to-day management of the three  Centers' treatment and services, activities and its professional staff, and maintaining  coordination of long-term rehabilitation processes of patients with birth defects, neurological disorders, brain injuries, and developmental disorders.  It is also  accountable to ensure  the drafting and then  implementation  of new policies and directives.

Families of the disabled, thanks to AAMAL, have the opportunity  to participate in various social activities in the framework of a scientific system which directly contributes to rehabilitating the disabled and opens the door for them to play an effective role in life. For instance,  disabled children who have hearing problems are admitted by a specialized committee.

AAMAL center  consists of several rooms isolated form noise, and the tables are in the shape of horseshoe to ensure a complete eye contact with all the students. The educational program adopted by the Center was put by the specialists of AAMAL based on epistemic and linguistic principles in line with the age of the children, who are divided into three age categories. 

Services  are rendered to the disabled children for one year, and after that a specialized committee decides their condition to assess whether they can join schools or not. The Center is equipped with the most advanced technologies and devices required for conducting tests and hearing checkups.

Syria, a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which came into force in 2008,  promotes the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. The convention demands that governments should  take measures to ensure that disabled people can live and move about independently by ensuring that roads and buildings provide disabled access to better their life and integration into their environment.

Based on the fact that many people with disabilities are poorly educated; and can't find a job, a  law is enforced in Syria to this end, stipulating that 4% of the country 's  labor force is for the disabled .

 But it's the difficulty of movement and the lack of an accessible educational system which prevents them from getting a proper education in the first place. But there's no use sitting and crying over the past. We have to take measurable steps towards a more accessible Syria."

Actually, the heavy burden confronting humanitarian  organizations like AAMAL is immense, including the lack of accurate statistics on the number of people with disabilities in Syria. To provide a more comprehensive picture in this regard,  a national  survey of the country's disabled community is underway , in order to evaluate needs of the disabled;  so as to tailor government policy to this end  . Such a survey would provide ''numbers and kinds of disabilities , the Syrians suffer from and where these disabilities  are located,"

It is an established fact that relatives- intermarriage, irregular vaccinations for children, poor health care provided for pregnant woman and mothers , mal-nutrition  and the high accidents rates, are but among other factors that have made of Syria  a country of considerably big generation of disabled.

Thanks to the efforts of National Council for Disabilities Affairs (NCDA), several disabled Syrians  have  joined  the council which is staffed by representatives from six Syrian ministries and several NGOs, besides  a number of experts and people with disabilities. It has been lobbying for the rights of the disabled since 2004.

A key part of  the Syrian  government  strategy is to improve the safety of homes and workplaces and to reduce the number of accidents which can result in mobility impairment, and thereby contribute to alleviating disability .

Tomader Fateh