Marwan Learns to Walk

Little Marwan has never lived a 'normal' life. Born and raised in the Gaza Strip, he has already experienced war and political instability unlike most will ever experience. Not to mention physically he is different from most children his age, because he is missing his left foot due to complications after open-heart surgery at the age of only one month. Nevertheless, when you get a chance to meet him, you witness a joyful young boy who loves to hop around on his one leg; is he ever is fast!

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He never learned to walk properly because of his missing foot. Our volunteers get to see Marwan regularly during his check-ups at Wolfson Medical Center, and he does not give us the impression that he wants to be pitied.

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This past week marked a big change in his life, as he was to receive the first lower-leg prosthesis of his life, that will help him learn to walk properly. On Wednesday, I had the privilege to accompany him and his grandmother to the orthopaedic center where the prosthesis was constructed. Yaron, who had already started with the preparations of the prosthesis, was waiting for us at the center. However, he needed exact measurements and began right away with collecting all the necessary details. Marwan was very alert and followed the instructions of Yaron diligently.

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Later, with two and a half hours of free time on our hands, we had lunch and visit my little Kurdish friend Arena at Sheba Hospital, which was just around the corner of the orthopaedic center. Marwan enjoyed the playground area there very much, and people could not help but smile when they saw him enthusiastically hopping around on his one leg, trying out all the different toys. We then returned to the center Yaron began teaching Marwan's grandmother how to put on the prosthesis properly. She was a quick learner! I watched Marwan's face and he was so excited and could not wait to try it out. Encouraged by his grandmother, Marwan did his first steps clasping Yaron's hand.

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We left the orthopaedic center, Marwan carrying his new prosthesis in his arms. He had almost refused to take it off, but it was advised that he would not overdo it in the beginning. The next day Marilyn and I took Marwan and his grandmother back to the Gaza border. Again, Marwan was carefully watching the bag with his new foot.

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I will not soon forget his excitement over that prosthesis; one might think that he should be rather sad that he cannot walk just as most other people, but the opposite is true. Marwan might not look like everyone else, but that does not determine who he is and what he can achieve. He is only five years old, but the two days I got to spend with him I learned a lot about appreciating life and to not letting circumstances control my joy.


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