Casablanca - El Houssaine Ichen, known to friends and family as Houssaine, lives in Tounfite in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Houssaine’s family was not able to vaccinate him as a baby because of high costs and, as a result, he caught Polio at the age of three. The disease left his legs paralyzed, changing his life forever.
Casablanca – El Houssaine Ichen, known to friends and family as Houssaine, lives in Tounfite in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Houssaine’s family was not able to vaccinate him as a baby because of high costs and, as a result, he caught Polio at the age of three. The disease left his legs paralyzed, changing his life forever.
Houssaine was able to go to an institution for the physically challenged in Khemisset, which at the time was run by the organization Save the Children. He attended this school with the help of foster parents in the UK who sponsored him. He told MWN, “The experience that was life changing for me was that I was fortunate enough to have a chance to learn and be educated. I am very grateful for the opportunity I had.” After finishing high school, Houssaine got his B.A. in Modern Art, a diploma in Informatics Management and a specialized diploma in Informatics Development.
Today, Houssaine has a company called the Disabled Tourist Guide. He started the company because of his love for traveling combined with his frustration with the lack accommodations for people with special needs throughout Morocco. “Traveling is something that I have always loved. Morocco is a very beautiful place with lots to see and discover. I can show tourists around and teach them about our culture, while keeping their vacation fun and safe,” Houssaine says.
The situation with Moroccans who have special needs is not taken seriously and there is a stereotype around people with special needs that they are unproductive in the workplace. Houssaine has surpassed those stereotypes, admitting, “I have overcome these obstacles by proving that I can do anything I put my mind to and I will never give up.” The message Houssaine is trying to spread is very clear – he wants the government to acknowledge the discrimination of those with special needs and for everyone to come to the realization that businesses should hire based only on qualifications.
Houssaine invites any travelers, regardless of the need for special accommodations, to come explore Morocco and have a true Moroccan experience. He says, “I love learning new things and I am always ready for an adventure.” Houssaine serves as an inspiration to everyone. Despite his paralysis and constant discrimination, he created a successful travel company offering tours and accommodations unlike any other tour group. More importantly, he is a voice fighting for those with special needs in Morocco.
All photos by Disabled Tourist Guide
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