Disability among Tribal Families

10 June 2017 / Day 15

Disability among Tribal Families

Traditional family life in the Arabian Peninsula is built around the tribe, and is still very much similar to Old Testament culture. The identity, multiplication and economic influence of each tribe is important and a source of great pride. It is an inbuilt social pattern that has been reinforced over countless generations and remained unchanged until around 50 years ago with the discovery of oil. Economically, everything changed rapidly, putting the Gulf nations on a par with the richest in the world. Socially, however, even with advances in health and education, the mindset within the family structure has changed very little.

As a means of protecting the purity of the tribal families, the tradition of marriage within close family relations, such as first cousins, is very common. Over the generations, this has resulted in a significant incidence of stillborn babies or those with birth defects and genetic disorders. Traditionally these children have been hidden away at home, very often out of fear; they are separated from other members of the family, being considered a judgement from God.

Image by Tribes of the World / Flickr, Creative Commons

The incidence of disability in this region is high, but is unfortunately not accurately recorded as there is such a shame factor surrounding disability generally.  Very rarely will you see a disabled person in public even though almost every family will have someone who suffers from a birth defect. Many families suffer the grief as well as the shame of a disabled child but are reluctant to go anywhere for help.

In an effort to address this issue and support families, some Gulf nations have teams of trained and dedicated local women working in government projects with children from 3-18 years of age, catering for a wide range of disability groups with the object of enabling as many as possible to enter mainstream education.  Many more are supported and educated to have an enjoyable quality of life.

How to Pray

  • Pray that a new generation of young families would create a change of the social pattern to reduce the cases of disability and take advantage of help offered.
  • For more opportunities for families with disabled children to get help and support.
  • That the love of Jesus for these precious children would be evident to them and to their parents.

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