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In Taiz, People with Disabilities Assert Their Rights

Mohammed Ali Mahroos
Taiz
Among the key indicators of healthy communities are conditions for minorities and existing structures that cater to their needs. People with disabilities make up more than 15% of the global population, comprising the largest minority group in the world. In 1997, nearly a dozen people with disabilities in Taiz Governorate formed an association to support those like themselves, to facilitate their access to government and community services. Founded by Salah Tarash, the son of prominent Yemeni artist and musician Ayoub Tarash, the Association for Care and Rehabilitation of the Physically Disabled in Taiz is an officially licensed entity. Hanan al-Ghaithi, 35, has served as the group’s media and public relations officer since 2007 and was named secretary-general at the recommendation of the governing council in 2021. She earned a bachelor’s degree in media from the University of Science and Technology in Taiz.
Public perception of Yemenis with disabilities is more inclusive than in the past. © Albaraa Mansoor / Arabia Felix Magazine

Arabia Felix: What services does your association provide to people with disabilities?

Hanan al-Ghaithi: Rehabilitation, training, and follow-up. We work with schools, hospitals, government offices, and private establishments to provide more job opportunities to people with disabilities. We are reaching out to donors and supporters who want to help with financial aid, food baskets, or medical supplies.

We provide services to anyone who can reach us.

We also offer physical and psychological rehabilitation programs. Five percent of jobs are normally reserved for people with disabilities. We have coordinated with the Ministry of Civil Service on this. But since the war began, no government jobs have been available, which means greater financial burdens. Governmental aid is limited; donor funds are insufficient and irregular.

 

AF: What is your geographical scope and who are the beneficiaries of your activities?

HG: Our general scope is Taiz Governorate, where we provide free services to people with disabilities. Our branches throughout Yemen work on logistics. We also have an artisans centre, a language and computer hub, and a newspaper that focuses on disability issues. It’s the only one of its kind in Yemen. In al-Huban, we run a public school for people with disabilities under the supervision of the Education Ministry. But the war has forced us to reduce our geographic range.

“We provide services to anyone who can reach us.”

We’re trying to accommodate all disabled Yemenis. According to statistics from August 2021, 2,600 people are living with disabilities in Yemen, but it’s difficult to help all of them.

We’ve reached out to about 800 so far. In Taiz, for instance, we’ve distributed 450 suitcases full of health and hygiene supplies such as soap, towels, water jugs and laundry holders, a gesture the recipients greatly appreciated. We’d like to expand our scope, but since our work is mainly voluntary, our resources are limited. 

 

AF: What kind of structure does the association rely on?

HG: We primarily rely on three volunteer administrators: the president, the secretary-general, and the financial officer. Their duties include supervision, inspection, rehabilitation, and training. 

Each of us manages a centre run by the association. There’s no mandatory assignment in our work; we coordinate to carry out tasks according to our specialities and availability. We collaborate with others based on their abilities and skills, especially in terms of rehabilitation and training. The field is open to whoever wants to work with us. Things are going well now; we work as a team.

حنان الغيثي، الأمين العام لجمعية تأهيل ورعاية المعاقين حركيا في تعز. © البراء منصور | مجلة العربية السعيدة

Hanan al-Gaithi, Secretary-General
of the Association for Care and Rehabilitation of the Physically Disabled in Taiz.
© Albaraa Mansoor / Arabia Felix Magazine

AF: What qualities do these administrators have?

HG: Intelligence and determination top the list. In addition, living with some kind of disability gives our staff a sense of others’ suffering. This further contributes to the success of the association. Despite challenges, they manage well with their English, computer and media skills. Everyone matters. 

 

AF: How does society view your work?

HG: Public perception has changed considerably. People used to be reluctant to accept those with disabilities in government functions, and we had difficulties integrating them as students. There is more acceptance and understanding today, and the situation has greatly improved.




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