Empowerment Through Integration: A Portrait of Sara Minkara

age seven I lost most of my vision I had this genetic disease called macular degeneration and Cornell Mississippi growing up when I lost my vision it was a huge adjustment because one day I was able to see fully I was able to you know go out with my friends biking I was able to read my homework and the blackboard really easily but then the next day everything became much more difficult both my parents are distant cousins so that played a role why I received smack Euler degeneration in corner disappear my parents are both from Lebanon and in the Middle East or a lot of extra developing countries um there is that you know it's okay for cousins to get married marrying within the family and making sure to keep your wealth within the family that's what's married two cousins of encouraged both my sister and I lost our vision at age seven they were not aware of this genitive problem but they did their make sure that we lived a quote for normal life my mom was you know I think the biggest support that I received she never ever let me say I can do this because I can't see she really pushed me to really use my potential to the fullest I was born and raised in a Muslim family my parents role model stems from religious experience one of the practices that the Prophet speaks for is the integration of all people within a society even like I go first in the court and talking about someone who's blind and how creating empathy within a community I understand what people go through whether you're blind or have another circle it's very important to understand that it calls out that struggles in life are actually in a blessing in disguise so they took that struggle and they took the fact that their kids are blind is almost like a blessing in disguise let's actually see what good can come out of this let's turn it around and make it a positive outcome I used to visit Lebanon every summer and I used to see the vast difference between parents accepting and supporting their kids who have a disability versus parents who kind of are ashamed or overprotective in some ways and you know keep that kids at home and/or don't let their kids go to school I started realizing this difference as I you know grew older and I realized how lucky I was actually to be where I am it's not because I have a greater skill set or I have a bigger potential than other kids it's just that I was lucky to have parents who were the most supportive people you know I've ever met so 1/7 of the world's population is disabled but it's an invisible community every person in your society should have the right to be interviewed and should have the infrastructure to be integrated that is that huge potential that's being lost and is very needed there's needs to be something done about that so when I was a sophomore in college in 2009 I had the opportunity to do a program during the summer that dealt with blind kids and integration of them into their society in Lebanon I received a grant from the Clinton Foundation for my nonprofit organization empowerment education a campus called Camp Rafiki which an advocate of fakey means my friend by making a friend and by creating that bond it's the first step to integration having a friend having a support system is so important for that and cell development of the individuals there's a huge emotional aspect behind it but people forget there's that frustration the lack of confidence I mean I go through a lot of self-doubt a lot of the time but having a friend and having a friend that believes in you is very important so we wanted to emphasize that and it's not just for the blind kids it's also for sighted kids we'll spline inside kids learned how to use a cane the blind kids are able to learn that actually I can integrate I can actually be working with my sighted peers and my sighted peers see me part of the society and they're empowered then become more confident they start dreaming they start hoping about how their life should turn out so we actually went to villages across Lebanon and spoke to the local mayor's there and we advertised our programs I ended up knocking on a lot of doors especially families who had a blanket and at times it worked out and it was successful and at times it doesn't and my plan is to keep on you know after we build that credibility after we kind of you know run this in many years I'm still gonna knock on those doors of parents that did not welcome the idea because at the end maybe if they feel more safe and they see this is a successful program and so they'll send their kids yes so my work I think we are facing kind of the mindset issue so we work with Lebanon and we're trying to integrate the marginalize disabled population and the problem is when you come up to the you know government officials and we want to tell them that you know let's work on policies to integrate them they come back and they say well it's not our priority when you integrate a blonde youth into society a blind youth really starts believing that I have the right to dictate how my life turns out I have the right to be part of the society I have the right to go to school I have the right to do excellence you have the right to go to work I have the right to say what my lecture turned out to be not someone else I want to create a self development within that blind youth so they actually create change within their society instead of someone else coming and saying here's what needs to be done

6 thoughts on “Empowerment Through Integration: A Portrait of Sara Minkara

  1. MashaAllah the fact that I know and am familiar with her parents and family and didn't know all this amazing stuff she was doing… I hope she goes far inshaAllah!!

  2. What a lovly young woman! All praise to the Almighty Allah, then recognition of her mother as a true example of patience and courage in the face of her daughter's qadr(–destiny,)all which comed from Allah is always for good.

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