A SIBLING STORY: YASIR, YUSRA, & MUHAMMAD
When siblings Yasir, Yusra, and Muhammad are in a Sibling Support session or participating in the Friends Having Fun virtual group they exude an immediate jolt of exuberant energy. They bring their vibrant personalities, friendly competition, and passion to whatever they do, whether it is drawing their feelings, discussing their struggles or breaking out their best moves in a freeze dance.
Yasir is eight years old and has Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), a group of disorders that cause red blood cells to become misshapen into a characteristic crescent shape. This condition can cause anemia, pain, fatigue, and infections. Yasir had a bone marrow transplant to treat his condition, and his donor was his older sister Yusra who is 10 years old. His five-yearold brother Muhammad also has SCD and is doing well, but currently has no donor match for a transplant. The children participate in Friends of Karen’s Sibling Support Program with Jane, a licensed creative arts therapist.
Jane sat down with Yasir and Yusra to discuss what they enjoy about the Sibling Support Program.
Jane: How has the illness changed your days? Yusra: Yasir wanted to go to school, but he couldn’t do that or to other activities because he couldn’t be around many people. It was hard for our parents because we don’t have any family around to help whenever Yasir was sick.
Yasir: I was happy not to go to school. I was able to stay home all day and be with Mom, and not do homework.
Jane: How has it been to have your sibling support specialist work with you?
Yasir: Jane and I would meet when my brother and sister were in school. I liked to have my own time with her. We talked about things I was missing, like music and art classes. One day I played my keyboard, and we wrote a song about being home. I liked doing the online group and playing games. It was good to be around other kids.
Yusra: We get to meet and do art together. It was fun to do the activities with Yasir and Muhammad because we could all do it together.
Jane: What things big and small has Friends of Karen done to help you and your family?
Yasir: Jane helps us because we had activities to do.
Yusra: Our family is back home in Nigeria, so Friends of Karen has been like family. They make sure my brothers and I have fun, send us presents and school supplies. We share the gifts, but Muhammad is not very good at that. We share with him, and he doesn’t share with us. But, he’s little and will learn.