December 3 marks the International Day of People with Disability. Several Iranian newspapers on Wednesday ran news and special reports on the day. Mardomsalari dedicated four full pages to the physically challenged people and their problems. The following is the translation of a piece by Hamidreza Shokouhi, the editor of the Social Desk of the daily, which opened the paper’s coverage:
My view of the disabled people was not correct either. To be frank with you, I cannot remember how I looked at them. Perhaps I thought they were not capable enough, and deserved sympathy…
However my friendship with a physically-challenged person back in high-school years changed my mindset. We hit it off and our enduring friendship has already lasted 15 years.
He had a motor skills-related condition. He did not need a wheelchair to get from A to B, but he had problem walking. He was a poet too composing great sonnets; he loved Mowlana’s Mathnavi. Years came and went ….
Now he is married. He has secured a master’s degree in literature from a prestigious public university in Tehran and has released several books, not to mention the fact that he has failed to secure the go-ahead of officials to get some of his poems published!
He is a journalist going to great lengths to reflect in the media the problems people with disability are wrestling with. He has launched a special page for disabled people in several newspapers including Hamshahri, Etela’at and Mardomsalari.
He is actively involved in Baavar (Belief) Association which zeroes in on people with disability. His wife, Masoumeh Nouri, is an educated, capable woman and a journalist too.
He pens articles for Mardomsalari every now and down. We have kept in touch. His name is Seyyed Mohsen Hosseini and his pseudonym is Taha. He is among a handful of high-school friends I am still in touch with.
As far as the question of disabled people go, he is the one who changed my perception and opened the doors to a new world in which I developed new insight into society, an insight which the time I spent at a social sciences faculty failed to provide me with.
Through him I made friends with more people who had disabilities. Saeed Zarouri was one of them. Unlike Mohsen, who is crazy about poetry and books, Saeed is an adventurist. His friendship helped me get familiar with another angle of the life of people with disability, those who crave for adventurist activities such as diving, paragliding and many other activities I myself do not dare get involved in!
I really like to see all people develop a correct understanding of the life of people with disability, like what I did. The only thing I can do is to try my best to reflect their problems. To that end, I have dedicated the social supplement of Mardomsalari (December 3 issue) to those people to mark the occasion.
It is worth mentioning that almost all materials which appear in this supplement have been penned and compiled by disabled people; naturally they can write about themselves better than non-disabled people.
I have experienced how it feels to become one with people with disability. It was a pleasant experience awash with fresh feelings. I wish all of us could develop a correct understanding of how people with disability lead their lives. I wish nothing stood between us. It may seem hard, but by no means is it impossible.
I’d like to say, Happy International Day of People with Disability.
The same supplement also featured images of people with disability engaged in diving and paragliding as well as the comments of the head of parliament’s Caucus to Support People with Disability on what measures the chamber is taking to ease the problems these individuals are facing.