By Kawtar Zahidi and Souhail Wardi
“During my daily commute, I suffer enormously with transportation problems. For me it is the greatest obstacle in my daily life. It is impossible to take buses, because they are not wheelchair accessible nor are there reserved seats for people with disabilities. Taxis do not stop for me, because they either do not have a large trunk to carry my wheelchair (90% of taxis are small vehicles like Fiat Unos) or they do not want to take the time to do it.
The worst days are the days of winter, when I have a class at 8 a.m., and I remain in the rain waiting for the bus. The first one comes packed with people, the second and the third, too. I usually take the fourth one. I climb into the bus with great difficulty, with the help of some kind souls. After all this mess, I make it to class one hour late and exhausted. Fifteen minutes of rest is essential, so in the end I have only 45 minutes left to follow the class, that is, of course, if I can understand (laughter).” Adil Nidae – 29 years old – translated from French.
A big part of one’s quality of life depends on the ability to move around the city comfortably and without difficulty. Going to work, continuing one’s education, going shopping, finding access to healthcare, participating in cultural events as well as recreational activities should be possible for all people. Improving the living conditions and quality of life of people with disabilities is everyone’s responsibility. There is a clear need for systems and institutions that protect the rights of the differently abled. Governments surely need to step up, but it is also the responsibility of various associations and organizations to make both private and public spaces accessible. Some countries are doing very well in this regard, while many around the world are still lagging behind.
Morocco is one of these countries that are still lagging behind. Even though Morocco is committed to regional and international treaties to respect and uphold the right to adequate care and the rights of people with disabilities, unfortunately very little is seen on the ground.
The situation of disabled people is not at all reassuring. Morocco is far from doing enough, as the rights of disabled people are still overlooked. Public transportation is not accessible, nor are sidewalks, building, etc. People with disabilities also face frequent discrimination because of their condition. This deprives them of the simplest rights such as education, employment, and healthcare. They are as Moroccan as any one of us, yet are ignored in public policy; instead of helping them, the language adopted by society contributes to their stigmatization.
People with disabilities struggle every day with the nightmare of public transportation in Morocco. Some, like Adil Nidae, decide to go out and persevere despite the many hurdles in their way. However, the majority of people with disabilities give up and decide to just live at home. This is at times a personal decision, but it is quite often imposed by family and loved ones. They stay home to not “disturb” anyone and to avoid the hurtful looks of society.
Disabled people who experience loss of mobility in Morocco remain in the shadows and are looked down upon. They are excluded from society and lack services to improve their quality of life. It is our duty to facilitate social inclusion of people with disabilities in order to positively impact their quality of life and improve their psychological and physical health.
What are we doing about this?
Dinavie is a Moroccan social enterprise that is here to solve the transportation problem faced by people with disabilities. We want to provide services to improve the mobility of people with disabilities. Every day, people in wheelchairs, the elderly with mobility problems, blind people and others struggle to get around. By providing them with the opportunity to move freely, just like everyone else, and to benefit from quality care and transportation suited to their needs, we enable them to regain an active social life. We want to promote their autonomy and social integration and enable them to access primary care, work, get educated, partake in cultural events and above all have fun and be happy.
How can you help?
We are raising money to acquire a wheelchair-accessible car to provide the above-mentioned services. We will use special tools to make it a breeze to transfer the disabled from their bed to a comfortable wheelchair, then onto one of our wheelchair-accessible cars. We then take them wherever their heart desires or schedule the day for them.
We have raised $4,917 so far out of our $21,000 goal. Let us stand together to improve the situation of people with disabilities in Morocco.
To learn more about the campaign, visit this link: launchgood.com/project/dinavie