Hanasa Wali - Catch and hide-and-seek are her favourite games

Hanasa Wali

Eight-year-old Hanasa Wali has a firm career ambition: „I want to be a doctor!“ Her path to this goal will probably not be as easy as for many other children her age, as she is dependent on a wheelchair. But she is not letting that put her off.

The second-grader attends the Schule an der Erzbahn in Gelsenkirchen, a municipal community elementary school that also teaches children with special educational needs. Her favourite game during recess: catch! „It works best in a team, with one of my friends,“ says the open-minded girl happily. She beams as she recounts her experiences with „stop dance“, „hide and seek“ and „build a statue“. She also enjoys playing with sand – how good that she can move her arms so nimbly. This enables her to move quickly and easily in all directions in her wheelchair. She does not want to talk about the teasing from a few children. She enjoys going to school and keeps up well. Her favourite subjects are German, Maths and English.

Hanasa moved to Gelsenkirchen from Iraq with her parents and three brothers two years ago. She lives here in the arrival centre, which is socially supported by the AWO – the AWO offers
many on-site services for the residents. The children seem open and happy. Hanasa would like to have her own room. She often has back pain and prefers to use her bed instead of her wheelchair. Here she likes to watch TV or videos on her tablet or play with her brothers.

Her brothers help to look after Hanasa. „Sometimes we serve her food when she’s in bed,“ says Muhammed. „We want our sister to be happy,“ emphasizes Achmed. At the time of the interview, the family is waiting to receive their residence permit; so far they are living here with a temporary residence permit. The parents are busy learning German. „Once I speak the language well, I would like to work as an electrician again,“ says Hogr Wali Hussein, looking hopefully to the future. He has just obtained his driving licence and would like to drive his family around in a large car that also fits a wheelchair – but he does not have the money for that. Hanasa would love that too: „Riding the bus and train is sooo boring …“

The eight-year-old often travels by bus and train, to doctors and clinics, and often to other cities. Her mother Nareen Smail no longer wants to be dependent on the help of an interpreter. A translator explains her great wish: „I want to speak German well enough to be able to talk to the doctors on my own.“ She knows exactly how her daughter is doing, who was unable to walk shortly after birth due to a failed back operation.

Another wish of the whole family: more contact with German citizens – but that’s not easy
in times of pandemic.

„I love to paint“