The first thing you notice when you meet Adam Rantisi, a 6-year-old who fled Yarmouk, in Damascus, just over a year ago with his family, is his friendly, warm, energetic spirit. Adam is a very active boy, but he has faced more challenges than most of peers.
Since he was born, Adam has had 11 brain surgeries. The last made him temporarily lose his vision and balance. He also suffers from a psychomotor delay, which prevents him from walking or playing without falling to the ground.
The Rantisis are an extremely close, strong family unit. During Adam's last surgery, the whole family – Adam’s parents, his older brother Ahmad and his younger sister Rana – slept in their car in front of the hospital for almost a week, because roadblocks prevented them from returning home.
In Syria, all of Adam's health care needs were met, free of cost. But in fleeing their home, they lost access to that service and the care they depended on. After finding refuge in Lebanon, they were unable to support Adam's ongoing rehabilitation needs.
With support from its sister agency UNICEF, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has been able to provide Adam with the physiotherapy and speech therapy he needs. For the first time, he has also received the corrective devices he needs to help strengthen his ability to walk and play confidently with his siblings.
Adam’s dream is to go to school like his 9-year-old brother, who been attending an UNRWA school in Lebanon for Palestine refugees from Syria. In 2013, Ahmad came first in his class, and when he grows up, he says he wants to be an engineer so that he can "help rebuild Syria." The tuition and transportation costs of a special education centre, though, are out of the family’s reach. But Adam's mother Basma strongly believes in her youngest son. As she puts it, Adam "has a hidden seed that will grow and turn into something fruitful in the future."
UNICEF has generously supported the UNRWA response to Palestine refugee children from Syria in several areas, including education, protection and health and sanitation, providing over US$ 4 million since the start of the conflict, along with generous in-kind assistance. UNICEF remains one of the largest UNRWA partners in education and health for the support of Palestine refugee children, and has contributed a total of US$ 1.2 million since 2011 to regular UNRWA programmes, for example through the provision of learning support activities and back-to-school kits.