Marking International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Amideast is joining the annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and stands in solidarity with its 2023 theme, "United in action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with, and by persons with disabilities."

In the face of heightened global crises, Amideast acknowledges that the most underserved communities, including people with disabilities, are at higher risk of increased vulnerability, limited access to resources, disrupted education, and social stigma. As we navigate these challenges globally, Amideast remains committed to advancing sustainable development goals for PwDs and ensuring that they are not left behind.

Our priority is to champion employment readiness for PwDs through expanding access to higher education and skills building. We work directly with employers to meet disability inclusion standards and promote workplace environments that value the unique contributions of persons with disabilities. Our programs seek to remove obstacles that impede PwDs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region from achieving their goals and acquiring the knowledge and skills they need to contribute meaningfully to their communities.

Through the U.S.-Egypt Higher Education Initiative (HEI)’s Public University Scholarships program, Amideast has facilitated the establishment of fully integrated disability centers at 20 Egyptian universities. These centers serve as crucial hubs that provide advocacy, resources, and accommodations for students with disabilities, supporting them to excel in their academic pursuits and prepare for successful careers.

Our students’ achievements are a testament to our commitment to fostering educational environments and workplaces where PwDs can thrive. Among them is Hussein M. Oraby, one of nearly 50 young Egyptians with disabilities who received HEI scholarships.

Hussein, who is visually impaired, completed a degree in media studies, including a semester abroad at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and is now pursuing a master’s degree in marketing, AI, and accessibility at the Stanford Institute of Technology. He also founded Smart Disability Society, a startup that is dedicated to empowering PwDs through an accessible platform for freelancing and learning, as well as by manufacturing affordable assistive devices that enable them to live independently.

HEI Scholar Hussein Oraby with camera“I etched my name in the history books as the first visually impaired student to enroll in the Faculty of Mass Communication's English section, and…I was the first student to join this faculty in the scholarship program,” Hussein is proud to say.

Grateful for the opportunity the HEI scholarship provided him, he adds, “As I march forward, I am determined to leave an indelible mark on society, propelling it toward greater accessibility and understanding to shape a world that truly understands us. It's time to transform the narrative from 'about us without us' to a resounding 'with us and for us.' Let's rewrite the script and build a future where our voices, aspirations, and dreams are not just acknowledged but celebrated.”

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an opportunity to reflect on the current situation of PwDs and acknowledge the challenges they continue to face. On this day, Amideast reaffirms its commitment to embrace inclusion and diversity, dismantle barriers, and promote the full inclusion of PwDs in our societies.