Mrs. Laalei Abu-Alfain, MD, Best Buddies Qatar

09-12-2017, 05:24 PM - From 4 Years ago

Integrating People with Disabilities into Society is the Responsibility of the State, Institutions and the Family

Best Buddies Qatar was introduced in 2008 as a pilot programme under the initiative of H.H. Sheikha Moza bint Nasser and the umbrella of Qatar Foundation for Social Work. Best Buddies Qatar provides socialization opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities throughout Qatar. For this purpose, we systematically implement a number of initiatives including integration programs, activities and events. Our mission is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development, according to the highest applicable standards in Qatar.

This endeavor is in line with the Qatar Foundation for Social Work’s mission and Qatar’s National Vision 2030 in the field of social development: to maintain a strongly structured family committed to the ethical upbringing of children, and to build an effective system of social protection for all Qataris that conserves their civil rights and values and their active participation in the development of society, and provides adequate income to conserve their dignity and health.

The issues of people with disabilities have increasingly gained wide interest in many countries and international organizations. It has become a main pillar of the global human rights agenda. The care and rehabilitation provided to these groups are no longer merely a challenge for states; rather, this has become a fundamental criterion for measuring the extent of a society’s progress and where they stand in the international community. We stress that any focus on these groups must not be based on the concepts of charity and compassion. These groups have rights according to all religions, charters and international declarations.

The international community has acknowledged the needs and rights of people with disabilities; therefore nations around the world and international bodies have issued a number of international declarations and charters that guarantee and conserve these rights. These include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1966, which confirmed the right to social security including social insurance, the right to physical and mental health, and the right to education.

Furthermore, the signing parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1966 made a commitment to respect the right to life, the right to free passage, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and electoral and political rights. The states that are party to the covenant shall be committed to respect and ensure all these rights to all individuals within their territories and subject to their jurisdictions, without discrimination of any kind. They shall also respect the 1971 Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons, the 1975 Declaration on the Right of Disabled Persons, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was signed by Qatar on March 2007 ,30. This convention organizes all the rights of people with disabilities, in addition to the Optional Protocol.

The integration of people with disabilities into society is the social responsibility of the state, the family and institutions alike. Governments must draft and implement policies and decisions. Families must be aware of the rights of their members with disabilities and the importance of their participation in community service and development, when effective solutions to the challenges and difficulties they face have been implemented.

Institutions should not take their social responsibility activities as a means of propaganda. CSR must stem from well-established moral values that can help in building strategies, plans and objectives.

Many companies and public institutions have supported Best Buddies Qatar’s projects, programs and activities since its inception. They have also effectively contributed to achieving the integration of people with disabilities into society, through financial, in-kind or service support. The various contributors include the economic, social, education, health, sports and cultural sectors.

Let us not forget H.H. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani’s decision No. 44 of 2010 on setting up a fund for consolidating social, sports, cultural and charity activities (Daam). It is no doubt a wise decision and initiative that came at the right time for advancing Qatari society on the cultural, social, sports and educational fronts, as well as for furthering the skills and potential of Qatari youth. This decision reveals the enlightened vision of His Highness towards the issues of his nation. It is in line with the openness of Qatar regarding the private sector, which strives to carry the burdens of development and progress, as a partner of the State.

Finally, we must recognize that our country is not an investment project, subject to losses and gains. Qatar needs sacrifice and unconditional giving. This is how we can create a loyal and productive generation – one that fundamentally believes in social responsibility.