Friday, December 25, 2009

Palestinian teen amputee perseveres

From Xinhua:

GAZA -- Every morning, Jamila Al Habbash (pictured) gets up early to get dressed for school, puts on her artificial limbs and walks to school on crutches. The 15-year-old girl lost her legs a year ago, when an unmanned Israeli drone dropped a missile at the roof of her house in eastern Gaza city. The rocket also killed her sister and a cousin when they were playing.

Jamila's father, Mohammed al Habash, the first eyewitness, said the first thing he saw was Jamila with no legs. "It was as a massacre, the kids' limbs scattered everywhere on the roof. I saw Jamila's left leg thrown away," he said as he tried to hold back his tears.

An ambulance came immediately and took Jamila to Hospital. In the hospital, Jamila underwent an operation after another. The doctors tried every means to save her legs, but failed.

When Jamila woke up in the hospital, she threw off the blanket and discovered that her legs have gone. "I was so overwhelmed. The first sentence I said was "where are my legs?"

"My life won't stop as I lost my legs," said Jamila, giving an innocent smile. "I go to school and play sometimes. It's difficult now, but I can manage."
"I have decided from first moment not to surrender to despair because I knew it will kill me," she said. "Every start is always painful, but I came over the difficult stage."

The missile hit Jamila's house during Israel's three-week military operation in the coastal Strip where 1.5 million people live. When the war ended on Jan. 18, 2009, 1,410 Palestinians had been killed, including 355 under the age of 18, according to the Gaza-based al Mezan center for Human Rights.

Jamila traveled to Saudi Arabia in January to receive proper medical treatment since Gaza hospitals are not qualified enough to deal with cases like Jamila's, crediting an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007. There, she was given artificial limbs, but they didn't fit well. Two months ago, Jamila flew to Slovenia where she got better plastic limbs.

"The new ones are too much better," she said as she practiced on parallel bars in the only artificial limb center in Gaza.
Director of the center, Hazem Al Shawwa, said the center has helped 76 limbless patients and 174 are still waiting for artificial limbs.

Training at the center, Jamila is making progress fast and believes she "will not use the crutches soon."
"I will rely on myself. No one will help me as my family and friends do now. And I will be a journalist," She smiled, winking.

Her school is 100 meters away from her house. Jamila used to make it to school in five minutes, but now, with the artificial legs and crutches, it takes her 20 minutes.

"It takes time to go to school and of course it is wearisome, but I do it. It's a challenge," she proudly said.

In addition to dreaming in being a journalist "and write about our sufferings as Palestinians," Jamila even thinks of being a mother and having babies.
"For those who thought I lost everything, I tell them I did not lose hope and my faith in God," Jamila added.