The children gathered at the al-Qudra summer camp in Gaza splashed happily in the pool, relieving some of the summer heat and connecting with each other as only children know how.
It was also a good break from their usual routine of doctors, therapists and measurements – all of the children are amputees or have congenital limb loss.
This is the fourth summer that they’ve been able to come to al-Qudra, which has been set up specifically to cater to their needs by the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF).
The 120 children attending had a full schedule of physical activities planned for them and were fully supported in terms of medical, social and psychological support they need.
According to Hadil al-Saqqa, the PCRF’s programme coordinator for amputee children, the summer camp aims to strengthen and bolster the mental and physical health of amputee children and show that they are able to enjoy recreational activities when given the right support.
“Our message is that children with amputated limbs are part of Palestinian society, and they need spaces and activities tailored to them in order to make them feel included,” al-Saqqa said.
The programme offers other support to amputee children, including flying some overseas for prosthetic fittings, arranging required surgeries and providing social and individual support.
The programme does not differentiate between those who lost limbs as a result of wars, birth defects or accidents. In recent years, increased Israeli assaults on the Gaza Strip have resulted in more amputees.
According to PCRF, 20 children became amputees when Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian protestors in 2019.
“Children with amputated limbs are a small neglected sector, so we try to be inclusive [and offer] activities like water sports, arts and field trips to places like archaeological sites in the Gaza Strip,” al-Saqqa said.
“This gives them confidence and builds their character. It also strengthens their relationships with each other, which will help them in facing hardships.”