Friday, May 11, 2018

Meet one of our program therapists: Ahmad on wheels

Ahmad Mutlaq is one of the heroes of our Therapists on Wheels program.
This photo is not from Beer Sheva.
People who haven't heard of the Malki Foundation before often tell us how surprised they are to hear about some of the work we do for families raising a child with usually-complex special needs.

Our Therapists on Wheels program is a good example. It was created because we knew about families living in Israel's periphery communities - the far north and the far south of our small country. Too often, when those families bring a child back home from (sometimes prolonged) hospitalization or institutionalization and need the services of a good local therapist, the challenge can be enormous. 

That's because Israel has far too few therapists serving families in the periphery and not much seems to be getting done to fix the chronic problem.

Since 2011, with our tiny but growing resource base, we have been addressing the problem the best way we can. We plan to keep doing this, and growing the program commensurate with our finances, while the government decides what it's going to do about this very serious problem. Meanwhile, to learn a bit more, there's background here expanding on the origins and mission of (to use its full name) the Zlata Hersch Memorial Therapists on Wheels Program. To be clear, it delivers something unique - and uniquely valuable and appreciated - to families who need our service.

What makes Therapists on Wheels really special is, of course, the professionals who provide the service. Ahmad Mutlaq is an excellent example of what we mean. Over on the Malki Foundation's Facebook pages [here], there's this brief and warm portrait which we think readers of our blog will enjoy:
A highly trained, kind-hearted physiotherapist from a village called Kfar Bi’ina near Karmiel in northern Israel, Ahmad is currently living in Be’er Sheva so he can help the many children in the south who need physiotherapy. 
When asked about what he likes most about his job, Ahmed spoke about the progress he sees in the children that he works with. He said “Any progress, no matter how big or small, gives me the best feeling in the world” and reminds him why he decided to be a physiotherapist in the first place. 
If he doesn’t see progress, he asks himself “why didn’t it work?” in order to expand his mind and try to think about the situation in other ways. 
Despite all his hours of additional training and certifications (autism, baby massage, acupuncture, personal training), Ahmed feels that he still has so much to learn. He is planning on starting a master’s degree in an area related to physiotherapy for children. Ahmed has worked in clinics in Israel and Germany and also provides physical therapy for special education kindergartens run by Israel's Education Ministry. When he is not working, he loves to travel and has traveled all over Europe and Israel. 
Ahmad is currently treating two ultra-Orthodox Jewish children in Arad through our Therapists on Wheels program. One is Leah, a 4 year-old with a syndrome that causes weak muscle tone, failure to thrive and severe intellectual disability. The other is Daniel, a 3 year-old with severe neurological damage resulting from bacterial meningitis, epilepsy, quadriplegia, and other neurological and physical issues. 
Both sets of parents speak emphatically about Ahmad's compassion, dedication and professionalism. And we couldn’t be happier with his professionalism and his work with the children. 
Thank you Ahmad for all that you give! [This post originally appeared in the Malki Foundation Facebook page here.]
Most of the comments posted on Facebook when this first appeared this week are so encouraging, we felt you would want to see them.

We plan to tell you about some of our other therapist heroes in the coming weeks.

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