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In  Washington DC, I met people committed in the field of education and special education.  Some of them are well-known working for the United States department of education. Others are working for United Nations and federal agencies.

I wondered why these people were so committed. This is because some of them have a child with a handicap and others have special needs. In the United States, 100,000 people have been hired in federal agencies.

In every country, you can find a community committed in the field of handicap.

According to the country and the challenge, it can be very relevant to offer jobs in federal organizations involved in education and healthcare to citizens which would be moms of autistic children, people with hearing impairment, paraplegic people,…

They will care and fight in order to improve the healthcare.

That is what I have learned from Washington DC.

And as I believe that every country can teach you about how to improve the situation of handicap, I would like to go on a trip in Scandinavia: indeed, Norway, Sweden and Denmark are known to be exemplary and very unique countries in term of health and educational projects. The quality of life and the level of happiness are excellent there.

Thank you, DC.

Nawale Harchaoui,

Psychopedagogist, psychomotor therapist and international social entrepreneur.

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My friend Diego and myself were on a mission to test New York. I had to visit schools and Diego, the CEO of 2gether, had a birthday dinner and meetings to attend. Diego is a happy owner of a wheelchair, so we rolled to New York..

It was exhausting. For the transport from Washington to New York, it was necessary to unsettle the wheelchair in two parts. One of the two is extremely heavy. The employee did not help us with a good heart.

Arrived at New York, it was necessary to settle the wheelchair in one part. Then, we faced many difficulties. A simple difficulty becomes enormous.

Luggage in hand, I put his backpack behind his wheelchair.  My friend decided to make everything on foot because as he says, “everybody cannot offer himself a taxi”. Sometimes, my friend remained stuck by coming down from the  pavement  with his wheelchair. And unfortunately, a few subway stations are accessible to  people in wheelchairs. My friend looked on Google which station could be easily accessible. He found nothing …

On the 31th avenue, we met Mario, a Cuban man. My friend Diego is always positive. Thanks to his incredible personality, he got on with Mario, our new companion of adventure.

But even with three people and my suitcases in hand, I found the experience very extreme. As for Diego, he always remained smiling. He refused to take the taxi by solidarity with those who cannot offer it.

Tired, we had coffee in a small park of New York to rest. Diego had to go to a birthday dinner at about 6 pm. We did not thus have time to go to the hotel. Always motivated, Diego wanted to fetch tickets of a musical to Time Square. We gave it up and we waited to go to the restaurant in this park.

Arrived at the restaurant, there was a supposed bell to be at the disposal of the people with reduced mobility. The bell was not accessible to my friend because of a staircase. I thus rang for him.

Then, we used one completely unstable wheelchair access ramp.

My friend recharged battery of his wheelchair while we were eating. My friend always had the smile on his lips.

At the end of the meal, we disconnected the battery, placed elements on the chair, …

Then, we have booked an Uber taxi. Still there, the driver had to help us to unsettle the wheelchair and to put it in the chest without damaging it. I accompanied my friend up to his hotel. There were small staircases, … I helped him to put his wheelchair in his chamber, … My friend had giggles and he told me that he is always so when he is exhausted.

My friend is a hero. He refuses to have a limited life. He wants to be able to go everywhere if he wants it, …

My friend is my hero. He told me: ” Welcome to my life, but it is a lot of fun “.

If you knew what is the life on a wheelchair, you would make something to improve it.

New York, you can do better. Diego, I love you, you are my hero.

Nawale Harchaoui,

Psychopedagogist, psychomotor therapist and international social entrepreneur.

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J’ai toujours aimé le monde, découvrir d’autres cultures, d’autres horizons. Par un reportage de la BBC et CNN, j’ai appris que l’Ethiopie avait le seul centre sur l’autisme de toute l’Afrique de l’Est, the Joy Center. J’ai donc décidé d’y aller.

Après un long vol, je suis enfin arrivée à Addis Ababa, la capitale de l’Ethiopie.  C’était un dimanche. A ma première surprise, l’internet n’était pas partout. J’ai alors donc profité de la nature dans un jardin fleuri. Le lundi matin, j’ai vu des enfants habillés en uniforme qui s’en allaient à l’école. L’après-midi, en Ethiopie, on peut voir des enfants jouant dans la rue.

Dans le centre pour autisme, j’ai constaté plusieurs moments où les enfants étaient en euphorie par rapport à certaines activités. Moi-même, j’étais heureuse de voir les enfants dans cet état. J’ai vu un personnel soignant aimant les enfants.

J’ai pu rencontrer le propriétaire du centre, Zemi, une maman éthiopienne qui a créé ce centre afin d’aider son fils Jojo souffrant d’autisme. C’est une femme gentille. Mais elle porte sur ses épaules tous les enfants de son pays qui ont de l’autisme. Et c’est une lourde responsabilité car les moyens financiers manquent énormément.

Souvent, le handicap n’est pas un sujet qui attire. Parfois, les raisons culturelles font que le handicap est vu de telle ou telle manière. Mais ce qui est sûre est qu’aucune maman ou famille au monde n’abandonnera son enfant. Alors elle a créé une école faite d’ingrédients particuliers.

Ce que l’Ethiopie peut vous apprendre, c’est que the Joy Centre est un centre où les enfants s’y sentent bien. Je pense que la raison principale est qu’il y a beaucoup d’amour et de dignité. J’ai appris que le peuple éthiopien est un peuple respectueux. Il y avait de quoi apprendre en terme de techniques ou d’idées sur l’autisme. Mais si cela fonctionne, c’est parce que la propriétaire y a mis son âme.

Ce qui compte est le cœur. Si le personnel soignant de Joy Center s’en sort bien, c’est que le personnel  a des valeurs humaines, un sens du devoir par rapport à leur pays et aux mamans qui souffrent,…  Et cela fait toute la différence.

En Ethiopie, j’ai vécu des moments magiques, un petit Nuru qui a retenu mon prénom, des enfants qui ont aimé ma compagnie, un personnel qui m’a accueillie comme l’une des leurs, des moments d’apprentissage mélangés de tendresse et de respect pour l’enfant.

Zemi est comme beaucoup de mamans du monde face à l’autisme de son enfant. Elle est passée par toutes les émotions : le déni, la colère, le grand désespoir, les interrogations, la détresse, l’acceptation pour finalement pouvoir agir. Mais la tristesse n’est jamais loin.

Je pense que mes mamans (et mes familles) méritent qu’on s’arrête pour prendre le temps de les écouter et leur offrir une aide. Car après tout, si c’était nous ces parents en souffrance, nous voudrions aussi recevoir de l’aide pour plus de dignité et de l’amour faisant scintiller et éblouir une nation plus forte.

 

Nawale Harchaoui,

Psychopédagogue, psychomotricienne et international social entrepreneur.