Defying My Disability – Al Jazeera World


Seven disabled Palestinians negotiate the challenges of life in Gaza and the Occupied West Bank.

Filmmaker: Ramzi Maqdisi

Around 113,000 people in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza live with disabilities. Over 33 percent of schoolgoers with disabilities drop out of school.

In this film, we meet seven Palestinians aged between seven and 28 with different disabilities. Most were born with them; one was injured in Israeli attacks on Gaza.

But they all have a positive attitude and a strong desire to overcome their physical weaknesses and realise their dreams.

We meet Haneen Abu Ayash, 25, who lives in Hebron. Haneen trained as a secretary but couldn’t find a job because of a speech impediment she’s had since birth. Her mother suffered a lack of oxygen while giving birth to Haneen, which left her daughter with a balance defect. “Is it wrong to feel that I’m like everyone else?” she asks. “It’s not wrong to exercise my right or to know that I’m like the rest of the people.”

Mohamed Sadah, a young man who works for his uncle in a second-hand market, was born with a congenital malformation affecting his lower body. He bemoans the lack of electronic equipment and other facilities for the disabled in the Occupied West Bank. Yet, despite not having the use of his legs, he strives to be independent, using his hands to climb stairs.

Idriss Awaad, seven, is determined to learn how to walk and practises every single day along a long wall near his uncle’s house. He suffers from the same condition as Haneen.

“When I start walking, I’ll give [my brother] Issa the stand and this chair to sell,” he says.

Just before he graduated, Zyad Deeb, 28, an artist and photographer, lost 11 members of his family in Israeli rocket attacks during the Gaza War of 2008-2009. He also lost both his legs. His father and brother are buried in the same grave along with his legs.

But these tragedies haven’t stopped him from capturing the “beauty of things” in his beloved Gaza.

Also from Gaza is Anas Abu Haloub, a young schoolboy who has the same condition as Mohamed and requires a wheelchair. He goes to school and although he can’t play sport with other children, he doesn’t want people to feel sorry for him and help him.

Muna Zayed, a 14-year-old girl with a big smile, is close to her elder brother, Thaer, but says she has no friends because children her age “don’t accept playing with me”. Muna, who lives in Gaza, has had virtually to drop out of school because it became too difficult for her to use her manual wheelchair and her family couldn’t take her to school every day. Nevertheless, she aspires to become a primary school teacher.

Abed Alrahman Abu Rawah, 17, who lives in Gaza, was born with a congenital malformation leaving him with one arm and one leg. Despite this, he taught himself how to ride a bike and is determined to get work helping other disabled people.

In the face of conflict, occupation, tragedy and disability – in places ill-equipped to handle special needs – we see how these seven people have learned to navigate complex challenges with both optimism and strength. In Defying My Disability we see how they’re determined to rise above their disabilities, make the most out of life and draw strength from everyday things around them – their families, the sea and themselves.

An Al Feneek TV Production for Al Jazeera Media Network.

Supported by Quds Art Films

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  1. I'm watching this for the second time (first saw it on tv) and I must say it is the most effective episode I've ever seen so far! It makes you feel grateful for all you have, AlhamduliAllah.

  2. I am extremely touch by the beauty in spirit these people show….. How through so many difficulties they manage to smile and live a "normal" life… But to be honest these people are anything but normal… They are the epitome of the human spirit in its most glorious form… They are the true jewels of humanity… Thank you Al Jazeera for sharing such a wonderful documentary…. My heart was moved as I see such strong and beautiful people walk the face of this Earth even though the news makes me think otherwise….. My love and good wishes to all disabled people in the world.. May humanity aspire to have strong spirits like all of you have come to possess…..

  3. I'm watching a rerun of this on tv. It's amazing and heart warming. Do abled people really comprehend the gifts that they have? Only by seeing strong disabled people can we appreciate the indomitable human spirit.

  4. Israelis are living pigs and they will rot in hell as well as will be left annahilated in this world by Muslim world and especially Pakistan.
    Death to Israel
    Free Palestine!

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