Dear government, we are Potentials!

“We are Potentials…we are not handicapped. Give us our basic rights!” And Potentials they were this Sunday December 1st, on stage, at the heart of Martyrs Square.

The Square was packed. Families, friends and employees of the Al-Kafaàt Foundation… all came with their children and loved ones with special needs to see the Special Al-Kafaàt Troupe, the Stars of Al-Kafaàt, perform a well-known traditional Lebanese play, as a sign of civilized protest to what the Ministry of Social Affairs has failed to achieve in the last 12 months.

It was a beautiful event in Martyrs Square during which our Stars showed to all that they were indeed Potentials and not “handicapped”, as sadly judged by many in our society. The play was brilliantly performed with plenty of singing and dancing that made the crowds happy.

And yet it was an emotionally charged and sad event. Al-Kafaàt suspended last week all rehabilitation services in her ten rehabilitation centers that normally serve over 1,000 daily beneficiaries, all because the Ministry of Social Affairs has failed to pay its dues to Al-Kafaàt for the past 12 months.

This situation has left all 1,000 children and adults with special needs deprived from their basic rehabilitation services, preventing them from leading the decent life that they are entitled to.

This situation has also left without salary for the past 12 months over 350 employees who have been religiously dedicated to serving the least privileged of Lebanon, at the Al-Kafaàt rehabilitation centers.

“We must build Lebanon together” one of the actors shouts, as part of the play.

We must indeed.

But until the government treats people with special needs on an equal footing with the rest of the members of the Lebanese society, there can be no proper vision for a Lebanon that we must all, indeed, build together.