“People with disabilities are the largest minority in the world,” Palestinian comedian Maysoon Zayid declares in her recent TED talk. They are also one of the most underrepresented, as Zayid, who has cerebral palsy, knows all too well. This month, however, Kuwait launched a daring initiative that gives one group of the disabled a truly global role in representing their achievements.
Journey of Hope is a maritime mission that brings seven young envoys, all special Olympics champions with mental disabilities, to 22 ports in 19 countries, to raise awareness of the needs and potential of people with autism, Down Syndrome and other such disorders. Their voyage is uniting those with disabilities and their advocates in festive receptions all the way from the Gulf to Washington D.C., the final stop on their outbound journey and home of the Special Olympics.
The 210-day journey will take place on a boat just 88 feet long, and will include “many dangers,” admits board member Jassim Al-Rashid Al-Bader, “but you can’t compare them with the daily challenges faced by thousands of people with disabilities.” Indeed, for all involved, Journey of Hope is “a dream come true,” says Dr. Saif Al-Hajjari, also a board member and vice president of the Qatar Foundation—particularly, he adds, for the participants’ parents, who “worked four long years until the boat became a reality.”
For more information – www.hopekw.org/en/