Baraka Blog

Growing thoughts

Khalil’s Story… “Disability is a state of mind”

Khalil is a remarkable young man. The sparkle in eyes attest to that.

January 16th, 2009, the skies rained shells on Gaza.  Khalil, 15 years old, was at his grandmother’s house with his two brothers. He recounts the event to Iman Odeh Yabroudi, the PCRF Patient Affairs coordinator in great detail; describing the brightness of light, thunderous roaring sounds, and ash smells of the time the shell struck.

Khalil says he was the lucky one. His younger brother Muhanad, 8years, lost his life; another brother, Abdulhadi, 14 years old, lost an eye.  Their father, who had been working in Israel, had to leave his job to care for his two surviving boys.  The family survives on the sales of house-hold goods the father makes on a street side in Gaza along with a few kind contributions from family, neighbors and friends.

Khalil came to Dubai through the PCRF. Mohamad Bin Rashid AlMaktoom Foundation is sponsoring his medical treatment (fitting him with prosthetic limbs).  The volunteers of the PCRF in the UAE do their best to ensure a comfortable stay for the PCRF patients.  This includes hosting the children and exposing them to a range of activities aimed at rebuilding their self-confidence.  The children are offered a range of age-appropriate  activities to choose from.  Khalil chose scuba diving.

With the help of Tawasul founder Ernst van Der Poll, and Pavilion Dive Center, Khalil had a Discover Scuba PADI experience arranged.  We met at the dive center earlier this morning. Khalil was anxious. He sat listening intently to instructions.

Khalil, assisted by Jo, donned his dive gear, leaned forward and got into the pool.  Those of you who’ve experienced diving know that the first time you enter the water, it takes you a while to get comfortable with scuba gear. Weights, BCD, Tank, Mask, Regulator.. a lot to keep track of.  For Khalil, it came naturally; within seconds, he we ascended to the bottom, and used his hands to move forward in the pool. Ernst and Jo completed the skill review and in 40 minutes Khalil surfaced.  His smile radiated.

The sea was rough on the main beach-front, so I thought we would call it a day. Seeing Khalil’s eagerness for more, Ernst suggested a sea discover-scuba session into the secondary beach-front, calmer and shallower.  Jo and Ernst carried Khalil to the sea-shore, there he donned his equipment, and the three disappeared into the sea. They surfaced 40 minutes later.

Khalil’s exhilaration left his voice trembling. He kept repeating “Ya Allah”, “Amazing”, “I did it”. He saw a sting ray and fish. Jo and Ernst carried him back to his wheelchair.

A while later, Ernst completed the paper-work for Khalil’s discover scuba certificate, and asked Khalil if he wants to do a full scuba open water certification. Khalil didn’t hesitate for a second.   I gave Ernst a questioning look, he and I knew the commitment it required, and the logistical challenges of getting it done; he gave me a comforting nod and said “we’ll make it happen”.

Iman signed up Khaill, who committed to reading the 5 chapter book and completing the written portion of the course in a week.

Please stay tuned for more developments on Khalil’s progress.

7 responses to “Khalil’s Story… “Disability is a state of mind”

  1. iman April 23, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    khalil is so consumed with his diving he just called me and said that he will spend this friday evening re-reading his diving manual and won’t watch TV (I dont believe him)

  2. Norman April 24, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Khalil commits to
    conscience,
    soaring on wings
    of
    grace –
    living in dreams
    of the able.
    willing a broken body
    to
    submit
    to the wonder of
    fluid motion
    …meanders through desires,dispelling despair
    and embraces love,
    warm and comforting…
    embracing dreams
    with his
    perpetual
    soul…

    I do a little free poetry, writing when I’m touched by the wonder of the human spirit, ever giving and caring in the face of cold adversity. My dream would be to see Khalil perpetuating his acquired skill…allowing him to BE the difference when he gets back.
    I so wish I could be a physical part of this process, but thanks to God, I AM, due to the presence of my son and my friends!

    • iman April 26, 2010 at 12:18 am

      They say that the eyes are the mirrors of the soul, and khalil has the most beautiful sparkle in his eyes that look forward to seeing everyday. It is strange that the last word in your poem was the word (soul) and the only thing that led rescuers and literaly saved his soul from under the rubble was the sparkle in his half shut eyes. Khalil told me, as he recounted to me how he was located by rescures after the door and ceiling at his grandmothers house collapsed on top of him when a shell landed on Jan 16. Khalils eyes truly reflect the most beautiful soul inside his now incomplete body. Your poem truly describes how he feels so complete under the water and I would like to translate this poem into Arabic and read it to him if you give me permission to do so.
      His father back in Gaza is elated and told the whole neighbourhood that his son will return home soon not only able to walk but also a cerified diver. They want to see photos and we sure are taking many snaps of this. I personally call khalil now elghawasa, Arabic for submarine.

  3. Ruba Tabari April 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Khalil – You are an inspiration to all of us. Keep dreaming big- keep achieving.

  4. Norman April 27, 2010 at 1:54 am

    Iman – kind words and an interesting relay of events. Please, translate by all means…I hope he enjoys it!!

  5. Fatima Suhail July 13, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Khalil’s life-account is indeed an inspiration for all of us, who try to find faults with our blessed lives.
    It gives us a hope to be happy with what we have rather than to mourn over what we do not have. Khalil’s life and his personality should be a bench-mark for us to follow throughout our lifetime. I am extremely happy for this young lad and entirely convinced that no reason can stop us, if we have the determination and perseverance to accomplish our goals in life.

    All the Best Khalil!

  6. Fatima Suhail July 13, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Khalil’s life-account is indeed an inspiration for all of us, who try to find faults with our blessed lives.

    It gives us a hope to be happy with what we have rather than to mourn over what we do not have.

    Khalil’s life and his personality should be a bench-mark for us to follow throughout our lifetime.

    I am extremely happy for this young lad and entirely convinced that no reason can stop us, if we have the determination and perseverance to accomplish our goals in life.

    All the Best Khalil!

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