“Who would have thought that recycling can make such a difference? I can’t thank UNRWA enough for changing my little boy’s life”, said the mother of 7-year-old Hadi El Khatib, a resident of Ein El Hilweh refugee camp, during a recycling ceremony celebrating UNRWA Lebanon Field Office’s new initiative “Give Someone an Opportunity: Recycling Makes a Difference.”

As part of a wider initiative to become environmentally friendly, UNRWA in Lebanon launched a recycling programme which operates on a simple basis: funds accrued through the recycling of paper and plastic in UNRWA facilities go to help children with disabilities in the local Palestine refugees community. In one year, 70 tons of recycled paper and plastic were accrued, helping five children with disabilities, including Hadi, obtain custom-made wheelchairs tailored to their needs.

The UN Agency held a one-year anniversary celebration for the initiative on 22 April, International Mother Earth Day.

“The number of the people with disabilities in the Palestine refugee community continues to grow and together we need to work harder to help people in need of assistive devices. These small steps make a great change in the lives of families”, said Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Ann Dismorr.

Hadi’s mother explained how the wheelchair changed her son’s life, saying that it made him happier: “After receiving the chair, Hadi is moving around, playing and smiling more often. The doctor even said he might decrease his medications soon!”

The mother of another child thanked UNRWA, saying: “UNRWA was there when no one else was, and thought of us when we thought we were forgotten.”

The ceremony featured a debkeh performance by Palestine refugee kids with disabilities from the Al Tanmiyeh Al Fikiryeh branch of the Social Welfare Institution. This initiative is part of a wider project aimed at encouraging refugee households to recycle and decrease the volume of solid waste.