Dr. Jumana Odeh has spent a lifetime advocating for the most vulnerable members of her native Palestinian society: children with disabilities. In Palestine, talking about a person’s disability is taboo, making it difficult for parents to find support, treatment and care. Dr. Odeh has been instrumental in breaking down cultural stigmas and providing treatment for children with disabilities.In 1994, Dr. Odeh founded the Palestinian Happy Child Centre (PHCC) in Ramallah to treat children with neurological disorders and learning and developmental disabilities. Today, the center promotes early screenings, diagnoses, specialized care, therapy, and support for parents and caregivers. Children are cared for by a team of specialists, including physicians, special educators, speech therapists, social workers, art and music teachers, and community leaders.
In 2008, Dr. Odeh received the World of Children Health Award to honor her groundbreaking work. Since then, she has made tremendous progress in transforming the lives of children with special needs. Not only has she provided much-needed services for over 39,000 children, but she has also played an instrumental role in breaking down cultural stigmas. As she says, “The approach of PHCC is simple: involve the community so that they come to love and accept this group of children.” For more information, please visit www.phcc-pal.org.
Dr. Odeh received the 2017 World of Children Alumni Award for expanding her impact and continuing to unlock the future for even more children with disabilities.