“Never give up, even if you’re in a wheelchair,” says 8th grade 13-year-old Kassem Sleiman.
As we walk through the hallway, we see nothing but kids, classmates, friends walking, laughing, bumping into each other, and then we see Kassem and Kutaiba strolling along without a word to anybody except themselves, thinking they can’t wait to get out of this mess, this mess that they will never be apart of, this mess that they wish they were a part of.
Kassem, who goes to Unis Middle School, was born without working legs. Ever since he was just a little baby, he had to use a wheelchair.
Could you imagine having to work your hands all the time, or not being able to stand up on both legs, not being able to run?
Or how about when we have to get up right away in the morning?
Kassem has to get up and throw himself into his chair with hands that have the feeling of when you first wake up and it feels as if a pin is to heavy to carry.
Well, Kassem has to get up and roll himself, he has to work his hands all day and he has to have the determination and spirit that anybody else would have while running a marathon they practiced for, for years.
Linda and I could not imagine having to be in a wheelchair, not being able to stand up on our sturdy legs. That is why we admire Kassem so much.
Another person that we greatly admire and look up to is Kutaiba Alresaai. Kutaiba suffers from a disease called muscular dystrophy, which is a group of inherited disorders that involve muscle weakness and loss of muscle tissue, which get worse over time. Kutaiba also has suffered with this disease since he was born. He says, “It’s frustrating, you know, having to be in this chair all of the time.”
Linda and I sat down with Kassem’s helper, Mr. Berry and asked him a few questions. We asked him how long has he assisted Kassem. He answered, “two wonderful years,” with a smile upon his face.
Mr. Berry said that when he was younger, he didn’t know he would end up being an assistant for disabled children. We asked if he ever notices Kassem putting himself down and he answered, “No. Kassem doesn’t really see himself different and he shouldn’t.”
We I realized that Mr. Berry really cared for Kassem and enjoyed his job. He is the kind of person who disabled kids need to have assistonmg them. Helpful people, caring people, and people who help disabled kids believe in themselves.
Mr. Faouni, Kutaiba’s helper, has assisted Kutaiba for three years. When asked if he ever feels frustrated with Kutaiba, he said, “No, not with Kutaiba, but with how things work, like how hard it is for Kutaiba to sit on a regular chair, or to get through the hallways without running people over. Faouni is really helpful. Everyone can see it and realizes that he is always there for Kutaiba, no matter what. That is what takes a great assistant to disabled children.
Kassem and Kutaiba, said that sometimes it hurts to get looked at differently. As they spoke these words, Linda and I looked at each other and thought, “how could someone look at them that way?”