Twins' eyes look to Malaga for hope

The Palestinian twins at Malaga airport.
The Palestinian twins at Malaga airport. / Salvador Salas
  • The twins, who suffer from a condition which could lead to blindness, have been brought here for treatment by an association which helps Palestinian children

Maya and Talla are twins from Palestine. They are eight years old and suffer from keratoconus, a condition which stops them seeing normally and can even lead to blindness if not treated.

The two little girls arrived at Malaga airport on a flight from Istanbul earlier this week, with their mother and Palestinian doctor Fayez Bibi, who trained in Cuba as a specialist in internal medicine. The girls will be diagnosed and treated free of charge at the Antonio Moreno eye clinic in Malaga. If necessary, they will undergo surgery for a cornea transplant.

Maya and Talla, who live with their family in the Meh-Meh Palestinian refugee camp, on the border of Israel, Syria and Lebanon, have been brought to Malaga by an association called Asociación Palestino Andalusí para la Infancia (APAINF).

The president of the NGO, Rafael Aldehuela, and its manager, Vanessa Celestino, were at the airport to collect the girls, their mother and two Palestinian women aged 18 and 20, who will also be treated at the Antonio Moreno clinic. One of them was shot in the eye during the war in Lebanon when she was two years old. The other has keratoconus, like the twins.

Rafael Aldehuela said the association has 800 members and it organises charity markets all over Spain to raise funds to help sick and disabled Palestinian children from refugee camps.

Those who receive help and are brought to Spain are from extremely poor families or have been injured in the war in Syria.

The NGO receives assistance from Cordoba, Pontevedra and Bilbao councils, who have allocated them a site for the charity markets so they can raise funds. The association is also grateful to the ONCE Foundation, the Ronald Mcdonald Foundation and the Costa del Sol Tourist Board for their support.


While they are in Malaga, the sisters will be staying at the Ronald Mcdonald house. “Antonio Moreno is an ophthalmologist who collaborates with us. At his clinic he will provide the treatment the girls need to overcome their sight problems,” said Rafael.

APAINF covers all the costs of bringing the patients to Spain: flights, paperwork, accommodation etc.

This week another child will also be arriving in Malaga: Taher, a Palestinian boy, lost a leg in an explosion in the war in Gaza and the association has decided to help him. He will be treated by Ortopedia Poyatos, who will provide him with an artificial leg so he can walk.

“We would very much like Malaga council to bear us in mind and help us with our projects as well,” said Vanessa Celestino.