CAIRO – 8 October 2017: Armored with a strong vision and deep beliefs that disability is never the problem of a person, but rather the barriers that the society and other people put in their way are, “Helm” (Dream) Foundation has adopted a mission to promote the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life in Egyptian society.
First launched in 2014 as an initiative to facilitate the employment of people with disabilities, the foundation has quickly expanded, providing trainings for business companies to accommodate them and guarantee their full inclusion, working with the government to provide accessible streets, and soon launching the first mobile application in the Middle East, where you can find the nearest accessible facilities, barber shops, restaurants, mosques, etc. and know exactly which barriers you would find there.
“We want to provide an opportunity for people and tell them that everyone has a value,” Ramez Maher, manager and co-founder of Helm Foundation told Egypt Today.
Helm is working with companies and governorates, offering mentoring and guidance, and it is also providing support to persons with disabilities (PWD), through counselling and training.
Helm Career Advisers help PWD with job search strategies, such as writing a compelling resume and developing adequate interviewing skills. It also provides guidance to suitable training programs, employment opportunities and accessible services and facilities. Moreover, out of 300 volunteers, many of Helm’s team members are great models of inspirational PWD, who have been able to prove themselves despite the challenges.
“Helm is about ability not disability,” says Ayman Gamal, Helm’s public relations and graphic designer, who has himself been breaking one barrier after the other, having suffered from physical and speech impairment due to nerves problems.
The foundation also works with employers to be able to accommodate PWD in their companies, whether in terms of facilities or work environment. Helm experts provide assistance, mentoring and training to help companies integrate disability candidates and have an effective management approach.
“We tell them that the person is not the problem; they are the ones who have to break the barriers in their companies,” Maher states.
Helm has also partnered with Cairo Governorate to establish the first accessible street around Cairo University; and it is currently working with Luxor governor and the Ministry of Antiquities to replicate and expand the project.
“The objective is to support the government to know how to have an accessible street … and to be able to replicate it elsewhere,” Maher explains, adding that Helm is also working towards the same objective in metro stations.
“If you still haven’t joined Helm, there is something missing in your life,” Mariam Kamal, one of Helm’s ambassadors, who overcame her visual impairment and became one of Helm’s most active members, tells Egypt Today. “Every time I am with them, I am very proud.”