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Scuba therapy: Young Palestinian amputees take a dip off Dubai

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

When amputee patients from Gaza need prosthetic limbs, they head to glitzy Dubai. In a city known for sprawling malls and indoor attractions, some young patients are also submerging themselves in nature.

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The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, a US-based medical charity, brings youths with leg amputations here for treatment and has connected about a half-dozen of the children with scuba instructors. Special gear, such as webbed gloves, help to increase mobility under water.

Rama Chakaki, chief executive officer of Baraka Ventures, a Dubai firm that sponsors the scuba sessions taught by environmental education group Tawasul, says the activity helps rebuild self-esteem and self-confidence.

The wet-suit-clad youths begin their lessons in a pool, learning how to use air tanks and other equipment. Some then go out to sea to test their new skills along a reef.

Khalil Jadili, a boy injured in the bombing of his Palestinian home, became the first certified, double-amputee scuba diver in the Arab world, according to organizers’ research. A United Arab Emirates filmmaker also made the documentary “Gaza Diver” about Khalil’s diving experience, which aired on Arabic television channels.

“The aim was to break stereotypes that have to do with amputees and with disability,” Ms. Chakaki says.


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