Region: Middle East and North Africa
This program, which stands for Association des Tuteurs des Handicapés, provides resources and financial support to children, especially older children and others who are underserved, suffering from severe disabilities, such as autism and cerebral palsy. Managing the symptoms of these conditions and helping those children who live with them build basic skills can stimulate relatively normal development. ASTUHA helps children cope with their challenges and achieve their full potential by teaching families how to care for the children, providing occupational therapy, and working to decrease the stigma associated with developmental disorders and mental illness in the community.
An IPM Project Partner since 2003, ASTUHA (Association des Tuteurs des Handicapés)provides resources and financial support to underserved children suffering from severe disabilities, such as autism and cerebral palsy. Using a model that focuses assistance on both physical and mental needs, ASTUHA helps these children cope with their challenges, by teaching proactive methods to families on how to care for the children, providing occupational therapy, and working to decrease the societal stigma associated with developmental disorders and mental illness in Beirut and throughout Lebanon. As a result of ASTUHA, these children can develop basic skills that can ensure them a relatively normal development.
I. Speech Therapy Services and Motor Skill Rehabilitation
ASTUHA currently works with two different groups of individuals. The first group includes six children who live at the home and are provided with food, medicine and accommodations throughout the year. The second group is made up of three children who are provided with regular therapy and medications. The Project has increased its speech therapy services as well as its rehabilitation program in physiotherapy and increasing motor skills. Support services have been expanded into Tannourine, a municipality located 75 km from the capital Beirut, where the Project has secured a new facility, called ‘Place of Hope.’
II. Film Screenings
One of ASTUHA’s successful ongoing awareness raising programs consists of film showings open to the wider Beirut community in genres that reflect compassion towards and awareness of the disabled population, fostering a sense of integration and sensitivity to the children they serve. One of their most anticipated events is a bi-monthly afternoon of sitting and sharing cake with friends and community members. For resident children, these types of events allow for regular contact with a world they may not physically be able to seek out otherwise, as well as bring them closer to other children and their own families.
III. Goals & Projections
The Project is striving to develop new sources of funding that will accommodate the purchase of supplies as well as meet greater needs of the disabled community, in new areas such as Tannourine. At the same time, it is striving to create strategies for funding, support, and training for working with older patients. ASTUHA is also looking to purchase equipment and resources to help provide educational & exercise tools that are age appropriate for the children, as well as to hire additional consultants to provide training for staff members & volunteers.