Ability with Art and Hope

People with disabilities always have hope – life’s challenges push them towards being creative.

On Tuesday, 25 June 2018, the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) held a two-day workshop for 60 representatives of civil society organizations and activists working on the rights of persons with disabilities, Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, Person with Disabilities Body?? and representatives of Iraqi ministries. The sessions focused on issues related to the rights of person with disabilities such as; the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Protocol on CRPD and Law 38 on the rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Interactive sessions focused on the Government of Iraq’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as the Iraqi Law No. 38 on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. While participants, many of whom had various forms of disabilities including the physically challenged, hearing impaired and their caregivers, highlighted the achievements of the government, they nonetheless noted the challenges they faced as they promoted the rights of persons with disabilities.

Openly speaking, young Baha’a Ahmed Abd, with a sense of pride, said that he and his four disabled brothers managed to open their own business and take care of the family. “Life was not easy on us, especially that the facilities provided for disadvantaged people in the country were few. But that did not stop me, nor my brothers, to live a normal life. My brothers are married now, and I will get engaged in the next few days, hopefully,” smiling with optimism Baha’a concluded.

Self-taught, 38-year-old Lamya’a Al-Qaisi, who had difficulties going to school, is now a writer. “I learned to read and write at the age of 8, curious enough to ask my sisters about every letter and word that came across my sight. Now I’m a field researcher at the British Cultural Center in Baghdad. In addition to my passion for writing, I also know how to cook,” said Lamya’a.

“Disability is the obstruction of thought rather than the obstruction of body. We are distinguished people; it’s all about human diversity,” Lamya’a added.

Seated on a wheel chair, 42-year-old Haider Hameed speaks of his artistic interest in playing the guitar, despite the difficulty he experiences in moving his hands. He was enthusiastic to tell his story, and says that when he was growing up, he knew that he was different. “Although I wouldn’t be able to accomplish all I had dreamt of, another dream still wandered my mind,” he said.

Playing the guitar since the age of 12, Haider recalls his instructor’s surprise at his unique eastern style, and fondly remembers the support he received, and all the events he performed at, whether at friends’ gathering or events hosted by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

Reflecting on the future, Haider says “I’m hoping for the best, maybe rules will change regarding people with disability in the future.”

While commending the government’s efforts on the issue, many of the participants who suffer various forms of disabilities still had plenty to say about the challenges they face, as they seek to spread awareness about the rights of persons with disabilities. And one thing that was evident, was their relentless determination to succeed.

Text and photos by Sana Kareem, UNAMI PIO

Additional Info

  • Agency: UNAMI

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