Saud Abu Ramadan, Ahmed Daloul
June 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Leaning on crutches, the physically disabled Osama Abu Safar, resident of Gaza City, went everyday to work at Fursan al-Iradah (Knights of Will) radio station.

He defied the life's intricacies, mainly the lack of living means, care and accommodate for Gaza disabled people.

Abu Safar, 27, born in Libya with disability in both legs, never thought about surrendering to the reality of his physical disability. He insisted with determination and challenged to achieve a proper position for himself in the society of the Gaza Strip.

The striving young man moved from one place to another with prosthetics and crutches. His daily difficulty began as soon as he left home in the morning and arrived at his chair at the local radio station to send his message to the community and to everyone listening to the radio station.

Fursan al-Iradah local radio station was founded four years ago to serve the Gaza Strip physically disabled residents.

Abu Safar, a Palestinian, who left Libya in 1996 and decided to relocate in Gaza, continued his schools education at the enclave's schools amid difficulties to accommodate with his disability.

He told Xinhua in a special interview that he earned a diploma in science of rehabilitating physically disabled from the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG), adding that as soon as he graduated, he was employed by the radio station "as I was always eager to serve the community of the disable people."

"The community of disable people in the Gaza Strip has been officially and publically neglected for a long time due to several motives," said Abu Safar.

He lived in hard conditions by all means, and suffering has mounted amid the current complicated and difficult political situation in the Palestinian territories, which certainly influenced the social situation and made it hard for him to combine with the society that lacks the proper utilities for people like him.

Dr. Ayman el-Halabi, director of the Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Unit affiliated to the Ministry of Health of the deposed Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, told Xinhua that the number of disabled Palestinians in the Gaza Strip has climbed to 36,000, "which represents 3 percent of the Gaza Strip community."

"Some of the disabled people were naturally born with their disabilities and others became disabled due to the Israeli war against Gaza Strip, road traffic accidents or other illnesses," said el-Halabi, adding that "33 percent of the disabled people have disabilities in their limbs."

He revealed that 28 percent of disabled people live in Gaza City, the biggest city in the Gaza Strip, which is divided into five provinces with a population of more than 1.5 million, adding that "around 5,300 people were injured during the war, while 600 of whom became permanently disabled."

Abu Safar voiced indifference over e-Halabi's official figures, where he said that the disabled people in the Gaza Strip "should have enough power, will and determination to defy their disability. "

In 2006, he joined the Palestinian Association to Rehabilitate Physically Disabled in the central Gaza Strip town of Deir el- Ballah, when the idea of establishing a local radio station to serve the physically disabled people became mature.

Abu Safar was interested in the proposal presented by the committee of coordination for social rehabilitation in the Gaza Strip eight refugee camps under the umbrella of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA).

He said he has been looking forward to such a radio station as the first project of its kind in the Middle East to establish a special radio station for the physically disabled people.

He was employed as a deputy administrator, which was not close to his ambition, and then he found the opportunity to present a special radio program by his own voice, which is called "The Communication Link." His voice can be heard on air all over the enclave, by ordinary and disabled people.

"The beginning was difficult amid the tight blockade and the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, in addition to the internal Palestinian rift," said Abu Suffer, adding "however, all these have never been an obstacle and we keep going."

He called for a more active national, official and popular role to support the cause of the disabled people and their only radio station in the Gaza Strip, revealing that UNRWA paid the salaries of the station's employees.

"We will never surrender, we will carry on and we will do our best to send out our messages. My life as a disabled resident would never deprive me from living a normal life, I have my private plans, where I will get married soon and never believe that life can go on with despair," said Abu suffer.


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