disability aid request during umrah

Should I request for disability aids, the better to facilitate handicapped pilgrims with?

Basic accessories play a vital role in making sure that your Umrah pilgrimage runs its course without any hassle. At times, the most pressing of anxieties revolves around children and elderly people and how to supply their wants. For many pilgrims, those already travelling on a tight budget, the very thought of exceeding their baggage allowance is a terrible one. What many travellers do instead is leave us requests for in-flight arrangements such as cots for babies, wheelchairs for disabled, special meals, etc. Also, we can forward these requests to your hotel for further convenience.

It is seen in many households that unless the eldest in a family performs Umrah first, no one else will. This is particularly true of the youngsters. Perhaps they have rationalized it so that they are exempt from it until unless some elder in the family sets an example. Sometimes it is felt disrespectful that a youngster has set out for it even when there was an elder in the family. And he was not asked for it. Much of the excuse rides on the fact that the elderly cannot perform the service in spite of the will. For instance, how will they circumambulate the Kaaba? Will they be able to climb the stairs to their cheap hotel room in the suburbs? On a similar note, many women have been seen evading the responsibility. They do so by saying that their children are too young to be left alone with their relatives. Thus they displace the burden of religious responsibility with maternal duty.

Parents who have never left their children alone and who do not wish to leave them with a babysitter or a relative do not have to. Children should be brought along. It is even better to keep them safe inside your sight. Also it encourages them to revisit the holy cities later in life. Unless of course the woman in question is pregnant, and is expecting the arrival during the days of Umrah, then she should stay at home. Likewise elders should be brought along as well. While the health care industry is making innovations by the minute, the simplest approach to existing issues is still the smartest one. Circling the Kaaba on a wheelchair is a standard practise. Go ahead. Make a request.

Preparations for the sick and disabled pilgrims at major receiving airports in Saudi Arabia:
At King Abdulaziz Airport alone, the default airport for cheap Umrah flights, there are several facilities for the disabled. All kinds of necessary arrangements like wheelchairs, escalators and ramps are available. Even when boarding the aircraft or touching down from it, there are trams employed to take care of the people. These solutions enable such pilgrims to perform their Umrah easily. Acknowledging the arrival and presence of such company, other international airports including Madinah Airport and Riyadh Airport are also well equipped to entertain the esteemed Umrah pilgrims. All these facilities are free of charge but your travel agent should notify the airport management about your needs. Wheelchair services can also be requested to the airline, which they will be very much willing to provide. Wheelchair assistance is provided on the basis of passengers’ mobility. This starts from ‘passenger can walk to the seat’ to ‘passenger needs to be lifted to the seat.’ Usually the concerned authorities ask for some sort of ID, which in your case would be your passport. Be advised, you will be fined for losing it.

The thought of visiting Makkah is a recurring one, as well as a favourite one, with Muslims for centuries past. Saudi authorities make sure that the Kaaba remains accessible to each and every Muslim regardless of their age or ailment. Wheelchairs are available for free inside the Haram. There is no term indicated but the usual term is one day. You may continue to use it afterwards so long as there is a need. Remember to return it. In case somebody else needs it.

What if the airport does not provide me with disability aids?
If in any event the airport is unable to supply you with, say a wheelchair, you better start looking for wheelchair assistants. They will lend you one or drive it for you, at a price of course. With these wheelchair porters, you do not have to run after them. They come to you. Anyone standing idly by will be spotted by one or another of these porters as in need of a wheelchair.

But it is better to purchase one if your utility extends beyond the Grand Mosque. Make a note that pharmacies have a good stock of wheelchairs along with folding chairs. Sometimes all you need is a folding chair. Similarly, baby cots can be requested as part of your room-service. However, it can be a hit or miss with three-star hotels, suburban motels and cheap hostels. You cannot always get hold of a baby crib in a cheap hotel and late at night. Again it is better to purchase one from a mall or a pharmacy, or choose a five-star hotel. It is not that travellers will not discover it in due time but better to confirm it before checking-in. Sometimes even cheaper hotels can provide these things if the request is made in time. As is typically the case the time of the acceptance of application and your eventual flight will take some time. This is sufficient to look accessories.

Some precautions to take when driving a wheelchair:
Securing wheelchairs for the disabled is one problem solved. The harder part is to drive it, either it is that you are driving somebody else’s wheelchair or your own. Some tips are:

  • Each tawaf is a long and exhaustive revolution around the Kaaba and can be very hard on the one driving the wheelchair. After every tawaf, drop to the nearest place of rest.
  • The very sight of the Kaaba can excite Muslims to no end and enthusiasm is always followed by sleeplessness. After a day’s hard work make sure to get plenty of sleep.
  • The moment you start getting dizzy or experience a lag in decision-making - signs that lead you to fatigue - withdraw immediately. Especially those arriving in the summer season must watch out for dehydration.
  • Always walk on the white marble pathways. They are there for a reason. Marble is soothing for weary walkers.
  • Almost all pilgrims can agree that the jog between Safa and Marwa is the toughest of all for those driving wheelchairs. Acutely aware of such discomforts, there are wheelchair assistants dressed in green uniform who are more than ready to do your bidding.

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