From rejection to respect: Persons with disabilities in Somalia * Page 2 of 3 * somalia, World News and Opinion.
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From rejection to respect: Persons with disabilities in Somalia

“It is extremely difficult for disabled people to get an education, enjoy certain facilities and have a normal life,” says Basira.

The Al-Nor School for the Blind was opened in 2005 and provides free and special education and skills training to blind or visually impaired children. The school has 87 students and employs 25 staff members, including ten trained teachers.

For Basira, the school changed her life.

“Education has shaped me and made me the person I am today,” says Basira. “I would like to see improvement in the quality of education for the disabled people. I would like to revive the disability centres that existed before the war, get them renovated so that they can start admitting learners.”

Basira calls herself a “leading advocate” for the rights of persons with disabilities, especially girls and women. In her job as Coordinator of the Affairs of Disabled Persons for the Benadir Regional Administration, Basira has set herself ambitious goals: “My colleagues and I plan to visit all the districts in Mogadishu. We will do our best to bring about change that will benefit disabled persons.”

“I believe that blindness is God-given. When the light is taken from people’s eyes, God may bestow on them other abilities to enable them to do extraordinary things,” says Basira.

“Persons with disabilities are looked down upon by society. Instead of receiving tangible help, we are given handouts. Society can be very dismissive of the disabled.”

“My message to the one who can see is: A blind person is just like you. He is only missing the light. Blindness doesn’t take away one’s intelligence, knowledge or strength.”

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