“I’m very happy in my job. My disability doesn’t affect my work at all.”
Boubacar, 33, works as a legal adviser at Senegal's Ministry for African Integration, NEPAD* and Good Governance. Handicap International provided him with occupational support to overcome obstacles arising from his disability. The organisation highlighted his skills and made the Ministry for Public Services aware of the need to include people with disabilities on its teams.
Boubacar in his office at the Ministry for African Integration, NEPAD and Good Governance. | © E. Fitte-Duval / Handicap International
Boubacar is from Casamance in southern Senegal. He moved to Dakar after completing his baccalaureate, leaving his mother and six brothers and sisters behind. After studying public law, he was awarded a Masters degree in migration rights. A community activist, he chaired the Disabled Students’ Organisation while studying at the University of Dakar.
Boubacar had polio as a child and now needs crutches to walk. For many years, his disability made it difficult for him to find a job.
“I wrote to a major international organisation,” he recalls. “They offered me an internship. But after we met for an interview and they saw I was disabled, I didn’t hear from them again.”
Promoting rights and skills
To combat this discrimination, Handicap International set up an inclusive employment project for people with disabilities in the Dakar region. As part of this project, Boubacar has been supported by a social worker and an employment adviser for over a year. The organisation assessed his skills and helped him plan his future career.
To improve his knowledge of the workplace, his two contacts suggested he take a course on behavioural skills run by Handicap International. One year ago, the organisation helped Boubacar apply for a job with the Ministry of Public Services, where he hoped to take up a position that reflected his qualifications.
A position of responsibility at the ministry
Boubacar was finally offered a job with the Ministry for African Integration, NEPAD and Good Governance. A demanding post, it is a good match for his legal skills and ambitions. Boubacar represents the department on the issues of economic and social inclusion, migration and the environment. He also does administrative tasks, including writing reports and speeches, etc.
A few changes needed to be made to enable Boubacar to work in comfort: his desk is on the fourth floor, for example, which is served by a lift, while his colleagues work on the third floor.
One year after starting, Boubacar is very happy with the way he has been included in the workplace: “I’m not affected by my disability at all, in this job - it isn’t a factor,” he says. “My colleagues respect me and I have a really good relationship with them.”
Building on this experience, Boubacar would like to work for an international organisation in the field of migration, in which he has a strong interest.
* NEPAD: New Partnership for African Development