April 2009 Doha Qatar
Meeting Mia a freelance artist from Lebanon
Discussions with Victor a PHD Student from Dubai
The two co-chairs with guests at the Gala Dinner
Championing the Rights of People with Disablities Across the World
Cherie was in Doha, Qatar in April to co-chair the 4th Annual Shafallah Forum, an event she has attended every year since its inception.
The other co- chair was Mr Hassan Ali Bin Ali who runs the Shafallah Centre where the forum took place on behalf of its founder, Sheikah Mozah
The Shafallah Centre is best described by this extract from their website:
'The Shafallah Center for Children with Special Needs is a center of excellence that provides comprehensive services to individuals with developmental and learning challenges, their families, and the community. Shafallah was established at the behest of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Bin Abdullah Al-Missned, wife of His Highness the Emir of Qatar, to meet the demands of the Qatari society to establish a centre that provides comprehensive services to children with special needs. The center is a non-profit, private facility providing diagnosis, evaluation, training, and development services for children with all forms of disabilities aged 3 to 21.
Educational and related services are provided by a highly qualified trans disciplinary team of specialists. Areas of expertise include special education, rehabilitation, cognitive assessment, social work, child and adolescent psychiatry, pediatrics, behavior analysis, counseling, music therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and language pathology.
"Shafallah" is the Arabic name for the exquisite flower of the caper plant, a small shrub native to the Mediterranean area and bountiful in Qatar. Capers are beautiful pink and white flowers with immature, unopened buds. As with the shafallah flower, the Shafallah Center combines usefulness with the beauty of its special children to encourage their growth and development.'
Each year the Centre hosts a forum at which people from across the globe gather to discuss a particular topic relating to people with disability. It has been supported and attended on every occasion by First Ladies from around the World too.
This year the theme was 'Achieving Independence' and dealt with helping disabled adults into the workplace.
As well as co-chairing the forum this year and giving a keynote speech Cherie also took part in a presentation jointly with Scope (the UK charity of which she has long been a patron) and with BT Group's director of People and Policy, Caroline Waters entitled 'Time to get equal - supporting disabled people to access their rights to employment' The presentation focused on the way this issue is dealt with in the UK.
Cherie also learnt a great deal about initiatives in other parts of the World, from the presentations that she attended, particularly the workshop put on jointly by contributors from America and the Lebanon who had prepared their session by email and video link before meeting up for the first time in Doha.
Everyone who attended hopes that employment for people with disabilities will be high on the agenda as we rebuild our economic structures and rethink our values and priorities across the globe.
For more information about Scope Click here
For coverage of the visit in the Peninusla Qatar Click here
For coverage in the Gulf Times Click here
For coverage in the Qatar News Click here
For coverage in the British Daily Express Click here