My name is Sahal. I am twenty -years-old. My family is originally from Somalia but due to the war my parents lived in a refugee camp in Kenya for twenty years. It was very difficult for them to adapt to a different culture and language. I was born and raised in Kenya. In 2013 we came to Australia when I was twelve-years-old. I have cerebral palsy which affects my right side upper limb and lower limb. As a child, having a disability was hard. Growing up with kids who were the same age as me made me feel different. I’d like to share with you a short story ….
There was a five-year-old boy who went to his first football training. He was excited. He was happy. Until …his coach told him “why don’t you stay at home. You can’t kick a soccer ball, this is not a place for you”. But he didn’t stay at home. He didn’t stop. He didn’t let this discrimination hold him back. After many years the boy became a Paralympic football player. This boy was me!
I have big dreams. I have always dreamt of becoming the first President of Somalia who has a disability. This dream to change the history of Somalia is still with me. I want all young people to have free education so they can go to university and get a job. I am taking steps toward my dream and am studying Criminal Justice at Griffith University.
I consider myself very lucky to have a close family that is very positive and supportive towards me. My Mum has also faced many challenges in her life – living in a refugee camp, having seven children and having a child with a disability. Yet she never treated me differently or made me feel different to my other siblings. When I was young it was hard to accept my condition. My Mum taught me to accept my condition. She told me my condition is from the creator. I have realized there are so many ways to accept my circumstance and live well with my disability. We are all brought into this world for a reason and have the ability to do whatever we want with our lives!
I always try to be uplifting now, but when I look back at my young self, I did not feel so positive. I experienced a lot of discrimination and abuse from friends. When I played football with them they told me, “you can’t even kick the ball so why don’t you stay at home or be a keeper”. Everybody goes through difficulties in their lives but people with disability have many other challenges and things they cannot do at all. I want to write about why having a disability is difficult.
The reason why I have joined AMPARO is so I can learn to assist my plan along with my career goals. It is an opportunity for encouragement, a chance to keep building confidence and develop my skills in areas like leadership. My second plan is to share my story and encourage other people with disabilities to pursue their dreams. People with disability have been hidden away or experienced abuse, ignorance, discrimination and prejudice. I think AMPARO Advocacy is an important organization that stands up for the rights of all people with disability to live in the community, with choices equal to others.