Sawssan Haidar’s Get Well Centre is a vital INARA partner. The pro bono physiotherapy that the Center generously provides is essential to our INARA beneficiaries, both for example pre surgery such as in Cedra’s case or post surgery like Sara (pictured below).
We spoke to Sawssan about what inspired her to be a physiotherapist and what motivates her to work with war impacted children.
How long have you been working with children? Are they different from your other clients?
Actually, I've been working with children since the 2006 war in Lebanon. I worked with amputees and children with paralysis. Some of them still come to my clinic. Its not enough for us to focus on getting the children to walk or exercise. This is why in 2006 I started to study energy and tried to analyze the children more, to see what they like and what they don’t.
I've worked with four INARA cases so far, four children, and let me tell you. It's not just about the treatment. Exchanging energy is so important.
Working with the children gives me patience and energy.
What made you get into this line of work?
I wanted to work with my hands and my energy. I feel so happy when I can physically touch and feel that my patients pains are ameliorated.
What is a particularly satisfying moment when working with children who have been impacted by conflict?
These days people are focused on recovering just through exercising and using machines. I feel very satisfied when I can share my energy with them. I studied Quantum Touch in Canada, and this is what makes me happy, to share my energy with them and to feel their improvement through my hands.
What else did you study aside from Quantum Touch?
I studied physiotherapy, but I have studied everything that has to do with energy. In Canada I studied Quantum Touch, then I studied medical Thai massage in Thailand. In London I studied reflexology.
Right now I'm studying to be a DPT, which is a Doctor in Physiotherapy. I will be able to make diagnoses when I'm finished with this education, which is very exciting.
When Arwa first told you about her idea for INARA what was your reaction?
I really liked it. I'm telling her that all the time, even now.
I'm going to tell you something that you might not believe. If you hug one baby every day, you are going to have really great energy. I know it sounds crazy, but it's about a hormonal reaction.
It's so important to touch and take care of children.
What do you like about working with INARA?
To be honest, I've worked with many organizations before, but there is always some sort of connection with a political party or religious affiliation. I don't like this. In my center, I don't want to work with some company connected to a political party. I don't want to take care of children in the name of some religion. This is the problem in Lebanon.
This is what I love about INARA, that it is an independent and professional organization. I can focus on working with the children. I can give them my energy and I receive energy from them, so even at the end of the day I don't feel tired at all.
What's it like when the children come into the Get Well Center?
When my clients see the children, they trust me more. There's something intangible about seeing children at the center. Seeing innocent children makes them happier.
My clients are no longer thinking, "Why are we running late?" They feel more relaxed.
What is the hardest thing when working with a child victim of war?
The hardest thing is when I cannot connect with the children. Sometimes they are in too much pain or too attached to their parents to come into my space and connect with my energy. Children have heightened sensations of hunger, pain, and anger, so it's really important to work through any emotions and sensations they have.
But you know with Sara, she came in yesterday and did not cry even once! Even though I know it is painful to receive physiotherapy. She felt the pain, but she was happy with us. Before she was crying all the time, but this time she was relaxed, she really improved when it came to opening her arm.
I told Sara's mom yesterday that from now on, she won't cry anymore when she comes into the center. Although she is a child, she trusts me now and that makes a difference.