Breaking Barriers: Yahya’s Journey of Reading, Writing, and Resilience

6 Jul 2023
Yahya Al-Jaraba’ah

Tafilah, Jordan – My name is Yahya, and I work as a warehouse assistant at a clothing factory in Tafilah.

In addition to my job, I am an avid reader and a budding poet. I also live with a disability, but I believe that my disability does not define me. I have so much to offer to the world.

Living with a mobility disability, I rely on crutches to move around. Fortunately, my job doesn’t require me to navigate beyond the ground floor, allowing me to stay seated for the most part. This arrangement suits my health condition, which has always been my top priority when considering employment opportunities.

I am currently 37 years old. Reflecting on my journey to find employment, I would describe it as challenging. After earning my high school diploma, I remained unemployed for six years, despite my efforts to apply for various positions in government departments.

While my disability has limited my career options, it has never dampened my ambition. I didn’t let the rejections I faced discourage me and, despite my health condition, I began knocking on doors in person to inquire about potential employment opportunities.

In 2014, I managed to secure my first job at the factory where I currently work, thanks to some acquaintances. Although I would have preferred a government job due to its stability, higher salary, and other benefits, but fate led me in a different direction.

I was born perfectly healthy, but due to a medical error, both my legs were paralyzed due to oxygen deprivation. By the age of seven, I had faced numerous rejections from schools because I couldn’t stand on my own. Through multiple surgeries and a long period of wearing a full body cast, I regained mobility with the help of crutches and began attending a regular school.

I have always believed that creating inclusive and accessible environments can render disabilities irrelevant, making them simply a different way of being. As the saying goes, “dreams come true if they’re pursued with ability and will.” I have many dreams and the determination to chase them, but accessing the necessary resources and having a supportive, accessible environment are crucial for me to achieve them.

Although progress has been made over the years, negative attitudes towards disabilities persist. Such attitudes can be disempowering, hindering individuals with disabilities from feeling fully included and accepted in their communities.

It’s important for people to understand that being met with pity is not a kindness. Having a disability doesn’t equate to helplessness and dependency. I am intelligent, hardworking, and imaginative. While I face more barriers than able-bodied individuals, I have the will to overcome them.

Reading has been instrumental in cultivating my resilience when facing life’s challenges. I am blessed with a passion for books that transports me to different worlds through their touch and smell alone. Books have introduced me to larger-than-life characters with noble pursuits, teaching me about the joy of pursuing hopes and dreams. I have encountered inspiring leaders with humble beginnings and heroes armed with nothing but their minds and willpower.

There is something truly magical about the worlds that words can create. Writing is my favorite pastime when I am not assisting with the day-to-day operations of managing the factory’s stock. When I hold a pen in my hand, hours pass by unnoticed. There are no limits to the stories I can weave or the characters I can bring to life.

It’s important to note that writing and reading are not merely escapes from the challenges of my reality. Instead, they have made me more capable and willing to confront them. My favourite poetry verse, whose author is unknown, embodies a message of self-sufficiency and resilience in the face of adversity. It reads:

“You see me turning towards you, and you ignore me, as if God didn’t create anyone but you. May He who made you not need me also make me not need you, so that neither my need for you nor your self-contentment will last.”

Aside from ensuring that workspaces are inclusive for all disabilities, I believe that improving working conditions in the garment sector and across all other industries starts with recognizing that workers are not expendable numbers, but valuable individuals with ambitions, limitations, and needs.

It’s time to shift from a results-centered work environment that solely focuses on end goals, regardless of the means employed, to one that prioritizes creating a humane experience for workers. This can be achieved through continuous learning opportunities that foster personal growth and by establishing open channels of communication that make us feel heard and valued.

By investing in the well-being and development of workers, we fuel their productivity and commitment to the mission and targets of the factory. It is imperative to acknowledge that workers are essential assets and that their success is intertwined with the success of the organization as a whole.

Let us move towards a future where people with disabilities are not seen as liabilities, but as valuable contributors. Let us embrace the power of accessibility and inclusivity, recognizing that every individual, regardless of their abilities, has unique talents, skills, and perspectives to offer.

As for me, Yahya, my disability does not define me. I am more than my physical limitations. I am a dedicated warehouse assistant, a passionate reader, and a poet with boundless creativity. I am smart, hardworking, and resilient, ready to face any challenge that comes my way. With the support of an inclusive society and equal opportunities, I am determined to leave my mark and contribute meaningfully to the world.

My disability may shape certain aspects of my life, but it does not diminish my worth or the potential I possess. I stand proud, ready to show the world that I have a lot to offer and that together, we can build a more inclusive and accepting society for everyone, regardless of their abilities.


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Keep up to date with our latest news and publications by subscribing to our regular newsletter.