If the abled are struggling, imagine the plight of those with special needs?

Tariq Jawad Al Khabori

Social worker, Founder member of Early intervention Association,
Oman Disabled Divers (OMAN)

A sharp jolt to reality! Truth is that we, the abled, have nothing to complain about; especially those of us who have a roof over our head; food on our table and near and dear ones around us. Why are we complaining?
In this crisis, almost all of us are in the same boat. But, it breaks my heart that this crisis has really given those with special needs a raw deal.
Most activists and social workers have fought over the years to bring about a semblance of normalcy for those with special needs and integrate them into the society. On any given day, those with special needs have to fight and struggle for everything that we take for granted.

Tearing through the façade
And now of course, with the advent of the COVID-19, our lives are in turmoil. Everything that we took for granted, from walking around freely to buying a shawarma or driving to meet a friend or family member…all of it seems to be a thing of the distant past. It is as though lightning has struck, tearing through the façade of a busy, ambitious world of careers, commitments and whatnot that we have surrounded ourselves with and showing us the naked truth that we can live without all of these.

Painful end to livelihoods
This crisis has completely opened the wounds of the poor and the downtrodden, bleeding them endlessly. My heart is heavy as I hear of the tales of suffering endured by those in the labour segment, who, in addition to being indirect victims of the crisis are further burdened by the loss of their jobs, sending them into a spiral of despair.
How are they supposed to function when the whole world is locked down and they have lost not only the roof above their heads, but the loss of their jobs will force their families into absolute penury? How are they going to fill the mouths of their children; who will take care of their families; where will they go; what will they do?

Pass on the abundance
The sheer gravity of all this overwhelms me, but it has also given me a thousand reasons to feel grateful; to be filled with gratitude for the things I have: a roof above my head; food and good health. In fact every one of us should pause for some moments, stop looking at what we don’t have, stop complaining, stop and then quietly count our blessings! Shouldn’t we, the privileged lot, be forever grateful for what we have today?
This fact alone should be the impetus we need to pass on the abundance that we are blessed with to those who are deprived and in need. Our cups are flowing, so let us share it to the ones whose cups are empty. Let it be big, let it be small, let it be just a simple meal, but let us do it now, not tomorrow! Let’s make that difference!

Salutations to His Majesty the Sultan
One must not forget to mention that Oman’s effort to fight this deadly virus is headed by our beloved Sultan His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik.
Thanks to His Majesty the Sultan’s wise policies, Oman has managed to effectively lower the spread of the virus. The Sultanate has the lowest numbers of deaths and infected persons in the Gulf.
The Supreme Committee and the health ministry, along with other authorities concerned, have shown very high professionalism in handling the coronavirus crisis with a mixture of strength and strategy. They also deserve to be commended. Only a strong command and a focussed team can hold the nation together in this hour of need.

Special needs projects in a stand still
The crisis has cut a swathe through all the plans for various special needs related projects plus ongoing ones forcing them to be temporarily shelved.On a given day, those with special needs need extra support. But, unfortunately, because of the crisis, their world has been turned into topsy turvy.

True warriors
The world of the special needs is different: their immediate needs are physical but in situations like these, they face greater challenges in the guise of heavy stress, plus feelings of alienation, underlined by the ever-looming uncertainties of this Covid period.
But, then let us not underestimate the power, the strength and the resilience of those with special needs – they are indeed special and they have the ability to bounce back from any fall. And while we all wait for this stormy night to conclude and hope for a light at the end of this very long and dark tunnel, the most reassuring factor is that even in crises like these, we find a lot many of those with special needs, facing the challenges, bravely, all smiles, like true warriors.