From where I stand: “I am the living proof of what you can do if you don’t give up hope”

Narjis Mohaisen lost her eyesight at the age of 13, but didn’t give up her studies. After graduating from university, through UN Women’s Cash for Work project in Palestine supported by the Government of Japan, she has discovered ways to support students with disabilities pursue their dreams.

Date: Monday, June 17, 2019

Narjis Mohaisen. Photo: UN Women/Seung Deok Seo

I lost my eyesight at the age of 13. I can see the shapes of people and things, but not the details.

The worst part of losing my eyesight was not being able to read and study, which I used to enjoy very much. Although I was devastated at first, I became more determined to study harder and graduated from my high school as one of the top students. Today, I have two bachelor’s degrees, one in Arabic and another one in Islamic Studies.

My mom helped me a lot… without her all this wouldn’t have been possible. She always read aloud my textbooks and accompanied me to the exams to write down my answers. I also received support from the disability service centre at the university in Gaza, which introduced me to a very helpful mobile app for reading textbooks.

After graduation from university, I was eager to work, but, all of my job applications were rejected. Finding the Cash for Work opportunity through the Women’s Affairs Centre was one of the best things that happened to me after graduation. The Centre supported me to apply for the job and helped me get the assistant position at the disability service centre in my university. During the four-and-a-half-month work opportunity, I assisted other students with disabilities who come to the centre, helping them use digital devices and motivated them to keep studying.

It felt nice to work at the same place where I used to receive support. I already knew the needs of students with disabilities and what kind of support would help them most to complete their university education.

Through this initial job placement, I learnt how to look for other work opportunities. I am a different person now. I am confident that I can overcome my disability and become an active member of the society. My message to other young people with disability—I am the living proof of what you can do if you don’t give up hope.”

 Narjis Mohaisen, 29, is one of the beneficiaries of the Cash for Work project implemented by the Women’s Affairs Centre as part of UN Women’s Protection, Response and Preparedness to Address Needs of Disabled and Vulnerable Women in Gaza programme (2018-2019), funded by the Government of Japan. After completing the four-month Cash for Work assignment, Mohaisen is looking for a new opportunity to help and inspire others who has disabilities and those who do not as well, using her own experience overcoming her physical challenges.