The 12-year-old Tarek* was born with an incurable disease, a terminal illness disease that affects the development of bones, tendons and muscles. Not only did the Lebanese boy grow up with a terminal illness, but also without a father. When Tarek was still very young, his father was imprisoned for an entire year. After his release, he was immediately imprisoned again, and is still until today.

Tarek and his family did not earn a proper income, as the father was absent. Tarek, his mother and his siblings had to live under bad conditions, nor could they afford proper treatment for Tarek’s disease.  

Once he got the age of entering school, his parents tried to find an adequate school for his case, or even to be more specific, a public school to accept him. But unfortunately, public schools do not accept children with disabilities, as this requires specific adaptations. Although public schools in Lebanon are planning to accept children with disabilities in the next school year, Tarek was still only able to go to private schools, which were too expensive for the little boy and his family.

Since February 2018, he now attends our basic literacy and numeracy classes at the Handicap Forum in Tripoli, one of the ‘Back to the Future’ educational centers in the north of Lebanon. It is the first time in his life that he is attending a schooling program.

Despite these circumstances, Tarek grew up to be a very kind, loving, polite, but shy and quiet young boy. He is optimistic about the future and hopes that one day, he can have an operation to make his life easier and more similar to his siblings and friends.

The young boy is always excited for the next day to come. He tells us: ‘I like coming to the center. I made many friends here.’ Tarek feels part of a community who accepts him and knows that he is working on himself despite all the hardships that he faced in his past. With help of our program, we hope Tarek can catch up so he will become one of the first students to be accepted at one of the public schools that are planning to accept disabled children from September 2018 onwards.

Tarek has been displaying more positive outlook on life, and has become more outgoing and self- confident these days. Isn’t it interesting how kids, when given the opportunity – flourish?

*Fake name due to privacy concerns.