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Tag Archives: Tawasul

Khalil’s Story – 3rd Update

8:30am, Khalil and I head to the dive center. On the way, I asked Khalil what he imagined he would grow up to do… “Nurse, I always wanted to help others, after my accident, I enrolled in a first aid and CPR course”.

There we were met by Ernst and Ali Bin Thaleth who generously offered to photograph Khalil’s dive. We got into our wetsuits, assembled our gear and headed to the pool.

Before his briefing, Khalil shared details of his accident with the group. He said, “That day, I decided to bathe. Because of the air-strikes, I had gone for nearly a month without bathing. I prayed at the mosque, and headed home, where my brothers and I sat in our living room.  Within minutes, we heard noises, an explosion on our street, people screaming. We ran to our grandmothers’ home. There, we were joined by a neighbor and her children. ”

“Thirteen of us huddled in a room; when the shell hit, my youngest brother was thrown out of his chair, and laid motionless in my mothers’ arms.  My other brother was running around the room, face covered with blood, screaming; the neighbor’s chair was struck from beneath, and folded onto her and minutes later, I felt nothing. I could hear them calling my name, I thought I was answering, but my breath withheld the sound.”

“I could hear them call my name.. but I was covered with rubble; the side wall had collapsed and landed on my legs. I vaguely remember being transported to the hospital in a car. I became conscious at dawn the next morning, looking across I saw the doctor praying. I asked about my brothers, the doctor told me to pray.”

Transitioning back to where we were physically after Khalil’s emotional account was more difficult for us than it was for him. He was ready to dive.

Khalil was in the pool until 12:30, completed Confined Dive 2 & 3.  He practiced swimming with the webbed gloves Mahmoud bought for him to support his movement in water.

To my surprise, Khalil performed the CESA (Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascend) with relative ease, an exercise many dive students had to repeat several times before perfecting it.

Thanks Lisa Katayama, Joichi Ito for documenting Khalil’s lesson. (All photos taken by Joi are licensed under the Creative Commons)

Thank you Rabea Ataya and Ruba Tabari for stopping by to check on Khalil’s progress and cheer him on.

Thank you Ali for taking amazing photos of Khalil, which we will share with the public in the near future.

Thank you Mahmoud for bringing the gloves, and a big thanks to Ernst, your patience and care for Khalil is an example for all of us.

Next step.. Khalil has to complete Chapters 4 & 5, and head to the Open Water… please stay tuned.

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Khalil’s Story – 2nd Update

Khalil called last night to report that he had completed 3 out of the 5 chapters and was ready for the written tests. By 9am he was at the dive center, waiting for Jo to complete the tests.  Jo & Abood carried Khalil up to the classroom on the second floor of the Pavilion dive center. There Jo spent four hours showing Khalil PADI videos and translating the content and tests to Arabic. by 2pm, Khalil had completed and passed the tests.

At 4pm, Mahmoud & Jo spent took Khalil into the pool for Confined Water Pool Session #1.  Khalil had some difficulty performing the controlled ascend, which requires a diver to fin upwards to the surface.  With the help of a pair of Webbed gloves, Khalil used one hand to help him ascend.

Saturday, is Khalil’s next pool session. He will complete 2 in the morning, and if weather conditions permit, he would complete  Open Water Session #1.

Thanks to many of you who spread the word, we are receiving an outstanding amount of interest and support from the Media… please continue to share Khalil’s story with others.  His aim is to raise awareness on the growing cases of amputees in Gaza, Iraq and other places in the middle east, rally communities to support them with medical care and physical rehabilitation programs.

Please stay tuned for more..

A whale shark – Up-close and Personal

To encounter a whale shark on a dive, is rare and special. To see two on the same day in two different dive sites is absolutely remarkable. It happened yesterday, on a trip with the students from JESS (Jumeirah English Speaking School – Dubai). Most members of the group of 15 middle and high schoolers were on their first dive after receiving their open water certification. They were bubbling with enthusiasm. The swam with the largest fish in the sea, and did it twice in one day.

The trip to the dive site was on an older, slower and air-condition free dhow. A few people felt sea sick, most were feeling the heat mixed with anxiety. Shortly after we ascended from our first, rather uneventful dive, a group from a distance lets out screams of joy. It was Dawn, the group organizer. She had been swimming since 1991 and never encountered a whale shark.

Immediately, everyone on board, jumped into the water with masks and snorkels and headed in her direction. There it was, what a sight!!! a huge fish, gliding gracefully in large circular patterns a few meters underneath the surface. We swam with it for a few minutes before it took a corner away from Lima Rock.

The second sight was Um-elnatt, a few miles away from the first location. Shortly after descending, Connel, our dive leader points overhead, there it was, accompanied by a dozen Remora fish. It took a turn and came towards me, the view of its mouth open for filter feeding on plankton was brilliant.

The largest fish in the sea does not pose any threat to humans. It is gentle and can be playful with divers. swimming along side it gave me a sense of serenity and peace and a great appreciation for nature and its creator. Yet millions of sharks, whale sharks among them, are being slaughtered by humans annually, some to be consumed, others out of unfounded fear generated from by the media and Hollywood.

It would be sad if the boys and girls from JESS grow up to find they can no longer swim with whale sharks because they are all gone!

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