Thursday, April 3, 2008

Handicapped People In Morocco

Handicapped People In Morocco

One health issue in Morocco is the prevalence of handicapped people, both mental and physical. Amongst some Moroccans, it is believed that the disability is a punishment from God. Some say that if the people are sinful, their children will be handicapped. Thus, (not unlike the States) there is a lot of stigma attached to being handicapped. Disabled people are often treated poorly and ignored. As a health education volunteer, its something that I hope to address. Recently, a current volunteer came to our training to tell about her experience with the handicapped in her village. Her story is amazing:
After a few months in her village, one family asked “Laura” to come to their house to help them. When she arrived at the house, Laura was ushered down into the basement, where there was a door locked from the outside. The mother of the house opened the door, which exposed a dark room. Laura couldn’t see anything inside the room, but the mother was motioning for her to go inside. She was a little afraid, so she stayed outside the room. As her eyes adjusted to the light, she noticed a head move inside the room. Eventually, she realized that there was a person in the room who was chained to a pillar in the center. Scared, Laura immediately left the house.
Laura spoke to the family a couple days later after she’d recovered from the shock. It turned out that the family had put their brother down into the basement because he had been uncontrollably violent. At one time, he had prescription medicine that controlled his violence, but the prescription ran out and the family was unable to afford more medicine. So, fifteen years ago, they chained the brother to a pillar in the basement, where he remained until Laura saw him.
Hoping to do something about the situation, Laura talked to the regional delegué of the Ministry of Health and told him what she had seen and heard. The delegué said that the Ministry could provide the medicine free of charge, but that someone would have to pick it up. Laura organized the delivery and the brother has been getting medication for the past six months. He is now walking around the village with no problems. Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty.

Quick Update

We’ve been back in Ouarzazate since Saturday, getting lectured at a lot and doing some language training. The conference room setting, where we have most of our sessions, is getting quite frustrating. We sit in this room for hours a day, listening to power point presentations. Some of the talking points are useful, but anything important is diluted by tons of extraneous information and always delivered with the help of oft-repeated buzzwords. Patience and flexibility.
Fortunately, we’re going back to CBT on Saturday. My Tamazight skills are coming a long little by little, so I’m excited to see how well I can communicate with my family. At this point, I “know” a few hundred words when I see them on a flashcard, but who knows if I’ll be able to recognize the words when they are spoken to me by a local. I’m looking forward to it.


Mark said...

Duncan, There are bizarre stories about disabled family members locked away in this country, too. All are shocking. It is frightening to think of the "solutions" to which people are driven when they have no options or recourse. The Peace Corps creates possibilities where there were none before. I hope your language skills set you free to learn directly from the Moroccan people. Dad

Colton Bangs said...

yo dizz, i was watching a M.I.A. video on youtube and it reminded me to check your blog. your story really tripped me out, sounds like it is getting heated out there. oh and sorry about arsenal's pathetic finish to the season. this comment is actually more suited to a wall post, probably should have done that instead. hope it doesn't take away from your blogs professionalism. oh and i am learning some korean. anyang.

nasus said...

I am trying to locate the Moroccan Handicapped Society. The make beautiful hand painted screens & mirrors. Can anyone let me know where it is?

Thank you in advance

Alla said...

Hello, Duncan! I am very interested in the subject you started since I was managing international projects for the blind and visually impaired in Russia for 3 years and presently I am in Morocco hoping to continue my activity. Please contact me if you got my message (skype: alla_panyavina), I would love to discuss smth with you! Thank you!
Best regards, Alla.

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