Behind the Voices - "There is a lot left to be done to achieve real inclusion of disabled people in our country and in the rest of the world."
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« Behind the Voices! » is a new feature of Voices of Youth, where we will introduce one of our active users. Sarah is the first one of the series, she is telling you about her work with people with disabilities and how she helps them enter the job market, but also about her non-profit involvement with elderly people.
My name is Sarah, I am 22 years old and I was born in Nancy, France. After I graduated from high school, I felt like discovering the world. I had the chance to immerse in several countries, to encounter various social systems and cultures, different from those I grew up with. This trip opened my eyes and I finally found my calling: I wanted to be part of the change through fighting against inequalities.
I spent two years in Bordeaux, France, where I was fortunate enough to be trained in management in the development field and international solidarity. I learnt a lot. The internships I made have allowed me to become familiar with some social issues, from land expropriations to the problem of street kids in India, asylum seekers in France and the inclusion of people with disabilities in an urban setting. I was particularly touched by the work of organizations that specialize in accompanying people with mental disabilities and I realized that I had skills that could be useful in this field, due to my personal background. In order to learn more and to acquire new skills, I decided to get a professional degree, at the Bachelor’s level, in the management of social economy in Auvergne. I have made sure to direct my work more specifically around the theme of professional inclusion of workers with disabilities. In spite of the 2005 law on “the equality of rights and opportunities, participation and citizenship of people with disabilities”, there is a lot left to be done to achieve real inclusion of disabled people in our country and in the rest of the world.
Nowadays I am in charge of a workshop in vegetable processing. Vegetable processing consists in transforming fresh local produce in ready-to-use ingredients: peeled, cleaned and cut up. One objective of this training center is to provide the “central kitchen” with goods that will improve the overall nutritional value of meals. The “central kitchen” feeds hundreds of people with disabilities housed in special houses in the region. Another objective is to boost local agriculture while offering the opportunity to the disability community to have access to valorizing jobs, doing something they understand the aim of.
What are the expectations of young people in your country or community?
The young people in my country who are involved in studies or organizations that deal with social economy and solidarity want to see more businesses functioning on a democratic basis, where the decision-making can be equitable; a man being worth a vote. If everyone is given a role in the process of making decisions and a chance to express their own opinion, a company will then start serving people’s individual interests. Young people expect to see new legal statuses created at national level, which will enable the democratization of businesses and will enhance the support of this type of processes by the government.
Why is youth participation in today’s society very important/necessary ?
Young people are full of energy and know how the society they grew up in works. Youth are tomorrow’s workers and decision-makers, therefore their participation today is necessary if we want things to evolve in the future.
Are you engaged in civic issues ? If so, what do you do?
I am the secretary of an organization that helps old people who are isolated. I chose to invest myself in this cause because I think that it is crucial to take part in the creation of social intergenerational linkages, so our youth will not forget its elders, who are too often left behind in our modern society.
What is your motto or your favorite expression ?
« Look for the bare necessities – Forget about your worries and your strife », which is what Baloo, the famous bear in “The Jungle Book”, sings. I like it because I think we must always move forward and not let ourselves be discouraged and stopped by things that happen to us.
Is there any advice or message you want to give to youth?
If we want all young people to be able to fully participate as citizens, to express their point of view at the political as well as social levels, it seems necessary that we stay open to new information that will help us get a better understanding of the world around us.