girl: ‘I can’t wait to show friends my new arm’

SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)- Nine-year-old Palestinian Salwa Hesham has nothing but gratitude in her heart. Her Dubai visit has given her new hope.

Salwa, from Nur Shams Refugee Camp in Tulkarem in the West Bank, was born with an underdeveloped left arm. She was flown to Dubai by the non-profit group Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) for medical treatment.

“Thank you so, so, so much to everyone who helped me. I will miss you all, especially Tarren, my therapist,” Salwa told Gulf News, referring to the PCRF volunteers who have aided her since day one.

The third of six children, Salwa’s family doesn’t have the means to get her a prosthetic arm and medical care. PCRF stepped in by providing her with a myoelectric-controlled prosthetic arm through the help of sponsors. This highly advanced prosthetics uses the existing muscles in Salwa’s residual limb to control its functions, even the fingers.

“I can now carry a handbag with my left hand and play with a ball or ride the swing, which was difficult to do before. Everything has become easier because I can now use both my hands,” Salwa said.

Salwa has been spending the last two-and-a-half weeks with her occupational therapist, Tarren ‘t Hart, to train her how to use the new prosthetic arm. Although the task is challenging, she has progressed considerably well, ‘t Hart said.

“Within a short span of time, she’s learned pretty much how to use the arm. It seems like she has taken on almost a new body part. She had to relearn many motor skills, which was a tricky task, but she coped very well,” ‘t Hart, a senior occupational therapist at Mediclinic on Beach Road, told Gulf News.

Steve Sosebee, CEO of PCRF, wished Salwa a bright future with the new arm she received. He said many more need help just like her.

“We have many children with medical conditions coming from conflict areas like Syria, Iraq or Gaza who need medical care that their families cannot afford, and which we are obliged to help provide them.”

PCRF will follow Salwa’s case until she turns 18. They have pledged to fit her with a new prosthetic arm should she outgrow her current one. She is scheduled to fly home in a week’s time.

“I’m so happy now. I can’t wait to go home and show my new arm to my friends, go to school, and use it in everyday life,” Salwa said.

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