Celebrate good times

ACT has marked the conclusion of the Advocacy and Inclusion for Adults with Disabilities Project with a two-day celebration: a wonderful occasion spent with partners and participants whom we are honoured to count as friends.

In early December, about a hundred participants from all over Tunisia gathered together in Hammamet in order to mark all that has been accomplished through the project, and to honour and thank all those from over the years who contributed to its success.

The Project

Supported by ACT partners Interact, this project worked towards for a vision in which people with disabilities (PWD) in Tunisia can fully access and practice their rights. This was done through the promotion of inclusion for PWD in different areas of life, with a focus on children and mothers.

The specific goal of the project has been to increase – and advocate for – the provision, protection, and participation of PWD in Tunisian society by empowering families. ACT wishes to see the improved ability of PWD and their families to speak up for themselves, to address advocacy issues at different levels of society, and to work together for positive change.

The legacy of this project is long-standing, with several versions being implemented over the years dating back to 2012. Activities have included training sessions on numerous topics, for and with PWD, their families and the centre staff who work with them, internships and livelihood projects, as well as supporting self-advocacy and family-support groups in the Northwest and South of Tunisia.

The Event

The event was skilfully facilitated by friend of ACT Mme Nejoua Ben Khemis with contributions from Mme Sonia Khelif, who has recently undertaken a review of the livelihood project activities of the past ten years, and several key partners. ACT is incredibly grateful to all who shared.

The sessions were broken up into two main topics. Firstly, a time to look back. To reflect on the successes and challenges of all that has been achieved, to capture learning and commemorate the efforts so many have contributed over the years.

Next was a look ahead: what does the future hold now the project has come to its end?

The answer: continued and increased partnership and networking amongst participants, their families and the centres, carrying on the momentum towards greater inclusion for PWD in Tunisia – for them and by them.

Across the invites, programmes, certificates and presentations, the set of traditional Tunisian doors (as seen to the left) featured. The image of the doors, slightly ajar, expresses a threshold – a differentiation between something (or somewhere) that has been and whatever lies ahead.

Mme Nejoua Ben Khemis highlighted the importance of the reflections and skills developed by the many to have taken part in the project.

“We have talked about doors. Opened and closed. I want to talk about keys – they are what open the door ahead of you. Without the key, the door stays shut. What are our keys, how and what are we creating that we can use to open the doors needed?”

The closing speech was given by ACT Interim Country Director, Dr Steve Green. He echoed the principles Mme Nejoua Ben Khemis had put forward, thanking each person who had contributed to each project activity of the years.

“It has been a privilege for ACT to play (however small) a role advocating and working with people with disabilities and their communities in Tunisia,” says Dr Green. “While the project activities may be concluded, we know that partnerships will continue, and are excited to see what the future holds.”