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One man’s life journey living with a disability

man walking on crutches.

The difficulties in life are not your inability to achieve what you want, but your inability to push away what you don’t want.

Born in the month of August in Morocco, I am the youngest of five children. I was born with a curvature of the left foot and required surgery at the SOUISI hospital in the capital city of Rabat when I was only three years old.

Surrounded by the love and support of my parents, brothers and sisters, I flourished. My father always encouraged me to do my best. He was a simple worker with a limited income, but we never felt like we missed out on anything.

Although I excelled in my studies, I did experience sadness that I wasn’t able to play on sports teams, especially football which was very popular. Due to my physical disability, I was relegated to the role of spectator.

In middle school, I continued doing well with my grades, a scholar with distinction. My parents were so proud of my accomplishments.

At age thirteen, my world crashed down around me. My father passed away. His death caused emotional and psychological shock — it was his love and support that had pushed me forward in this world of obstacles and pitfalls.

As I began my second year of college, I struggled with the huge loss of my father. It took me down a road of psychological and physical suffering. I asked myself many questions: Why was I born like this? Why was I not born like the rest of my siblings? Like the rest of my friends and classmates?

My father’s death was a huge challenge for my entire family as he was the sole breadwinner. In the summer, I sold plastic bags and used books to buy my supplies of clothes, books and pens.

In honor of my father, I studied hard and earned my baccalaureate. I was the first in my family to achieve this level of success as my older brothers had to quit school to bring income into the household.

I continued my schooling at university level, majoring in psychology – a field that interested me because it explored the depths of the human psyche and analyzed the human personality and its psychological compatibility.

My focus was on the psychology of a person with a disability and their relationship to psychological and academic harmony, as well as their relationship to personalities and anomalies.

After four years of university, I completed my thesis on people with disabilities and the relation to psychological and school compatibility. I earned a degree in psychology and in Spanish. I also speak French and Arabic.

Upon graduating university, I entered the world of employment. Unfortunately, finding a job proved to be very challenging due to my physical disability. I was not allowed to take the civil services exam simply because of a Moroccan law that denied me the required physical security certificate due to physical defect or handicap.

I eventually acquired a job at a private school, teaching Arabic and French for primary grades. I also taught evening classes in Spanish to increase my income and meet the demands of daily life.

Another crisis then hit my family. My mother was diagnosed with uterine cancer. There was only one oncology hospital, the Moulay Abdullah Institute, in Morocco at that time. The toll of daily travel, the cost of medicines and expensive treatments, and periodic examinations to monitor the stages of spread of the disease was exhausting.

At the end of a year of treatment, the doctors determined that my mother had recovered from her cancer. I was so happy and relieved. I didn’t know how I would have borne the costs of an expensive surgery as I had neither social security nor health coverage.

My next struggle, being experienced by the entire world, is the COVID-19 pandemic. A global epidemic that has affected all medical, psychological, economic, and social aspects. Many people have lost their jobs and, unfortunately, I am one of them. In Morocco, we don’t have financial or social aid as is the case in developed countries. I am again in the state of looking for sustainable employment.

This is my story … I hold my head high … and my journey continues …

About the Author

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Abdel Dahim

Abdel Dahim, from Morocco, has a double Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Arabic Literature and a degree in Spanish from Mohammed V University in Rabat.  Abdel speaks Arabic, French and Spanish and was born with a physical disability.

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