International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Last Saturday we celebrated International Day of Persons with Disabilities, as laid out by the UN.  The theme for this year’s International Day is “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want.”  Article 19 of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is “Living independently and being included in the community”—a goal that aligns perfectly with ETI’s mission of integration for blind and sighted youth.

And this goal is important.  Currently, there are 1 billion people in the world living with a disability.  That is equal to 1/7 of the world’s population.  90% of people living with disabilities live in developing countries, and only 2% of those people receive any kind of education.  Breaking down the stigma surrounding blind youth, by integrating young blind people with sighted ones in educational settings, is how we hope to achieve our mission.

To further reflect on how ETI is achieving this objective, we put together some testimonials from children who have attended our camps in Lebanon, as well as from volunteers who have helped to run these camps.  We hope that these stories will also highlight all we have achieved in 2016 as the year draws to a close, and inspire all of ETI’s supporters to look forward to another successful year of growth.

Testimonials from Camp Participants:

“You guys gave me hope, made me believe in myself, and gave me the ability to be happy.  This is the first time that I was able to make friends and have fun. ” - K. H., Camp 2011

“I didn’t realize how powerful this tool is, but it is actually a symbol for my independence. You opened the door to live an independent life. ” –Hamza, on using a cane for the first time, Camp 2009

“I really want to become a pharmacist.  Going to your camp really gave me hope that I could be a pharmacist. ” –Mehdi, Camp 2011, Beirut 

Testimonials from Volunteers:

Being a volunteer for the first time was a very beneficial experience for me on both the social and personal levels. I learned how to give and take, to know when to take action, when to listen and when to speak, and to see how the little helping hand can positively change society.” Miriam, 14. (From 2010)

“The camp…was an amazing hands-on experience for me—it gave me the opportunity to learn about inclusion of persons with disabilities in society and experience a bottom-up approach in the social development field.” Malak, 19.

“I am really excited to work on the project…since it gives me the opportunity to work with blind and visually-impaired children. I believe these children are of a marginalized sector of our society, and I’d like to be a helping hand and make their future brighter!” Mariam, 18.