Private sector urged to help handicapped

SHARJAH - Private sector companies should contribute to helping the physically-challenged to integrate and become a part of the productive society by employing them rather than avoiding or neglecting the issue, said Haider Taleb Erabeh, Manager of Al Thiqah Employment and Rehabilitation Project and Member of Planning and Fund Raising Committee of Al Thiqah Handicapped Club.

By Lina Abdul Rahman

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Published: Tue 24 Aug 2004, 11:21 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:21 PM

"So far, we have received a positive response from various government departments, and the majority of the handicapped job-seekers who are members of the club were employed in various sectors. The government sector helps alleviate the isolation as well as the suffering experienced by handicapped people, while private companies show no interest in employing physically-challenged individuals," said Mr Erabeh. "In a bid to meet the growing number of handicapped people looking for jobs, we recently inaugurated seven special centres in various government bodies. This brings the total number of centres run and operated by handicapped individuals to 30 centres that offer typing and photocopying services, sell stationery, and other facilities. We are proud to say that the handicapped people have shown determination and were successful in performing tasks done by others," he added.

The Al Thiqah Handicapped Club has recently received the application of 70 handicapped people of all nationalities. "Unfortunately, we did not receive any positive response from companies from the private sector except for one that stated certain qualifications and skills required in the handicapped candidates. Based on their request, we started training a select group of handicapped employees. Once a handicapped person is selected to perform a certain job, we handle the training and rehabilitating of the suitable candidates until they excel in their jobs," Mr Erabeh said.

He said that the actual disability is not physical but lies in the mind. He expressed hope that someday the private sector would change its negative attitude on recruiting handicapped personnel, and provide equal opportunities for the physically-challenged.

"Finding good job opportunities for the people whose conditions deprive them from being part of the employment sector, and ending their isolation are among our main goals and our endeavours to change the attitude of the society towards them," he said.

He stressed that a number of people with special needs are not aware of the existence of organisations, which serve their needs, attributing this ignorance to the media. "I urge the media to cooperate with us and help people with special needs find jobs by highlighting our noble project that aims to bring a smile to their faces," he added.

In a bid to get closer to the handicapped and to discuss their problems in finding jobs in the private sector Khaleej Times interviewed a number of handicapped people who are currently working at various government bodies. Afaf Mohammed Khalil, a Palestinian woman with disability, working at the Al Thiqah Service Centre at the University of Sharjah (women's campus) queried: "Why are we not given equal employment opportunities like normal people, and why are private companies ignoring us and seldom recruiting us?"

The University of Sharjah was the first educational institution to inaugurate a services' centre under Al Thiqah Employment Project. The centre started operating and providing the basic students' needs.

Mrs Afaf said: "Before joining my current job and due to my high qualifications, I applied in 20 companies. Whenever I asked about job vacancies on the phone, they would ask me to apply, but when they see me in person and realise that I am on a wheelchair, they usually reject my application and deny me an opportunity for an interview. People have made me feel that because of my disability, I am an unwanted individual in the society. It hurts me so much when the concept is expressed to me through sympathetic looks or words."

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