“To be honest, after God’s help came that of my family, especially my wife, who has played a huge role in supporting me. I like to mention her in every interview,” he said, before adding that he could rise to any new challenge as long as she is by his side.
“Some may say that my words are exaggerated, but my response to them is: Come and live with me and see what I do out of confidence and excellence,” he added. “What I say comes from deep within, and those around me are witnesses to that.”
Though much of his experience would be relatable to someone with a visual impairment in another country, al-Kinani has a special message and words of encouragement for Iraqis in particular.
“I would like to tell all Iraqis that despite the [things] that our country has been going through for a long time, with ongoing difficult situations and an increasing number of people with disabilities, life goes on,” he said. “We must continue working and striving to the best of our abilities and means, so we can be heard.”
“This is my message, conveyed from my beloved Iraq to the rest of the world,” he continued. “Iraq is full of vibrant, diverse people, from different groups and backgrounds, whether disabled or not. My message to the world: look at Iraqis! See how they deal with hardship and how they emerge from the ashes, to prove to the world they are alive and kicking, through it all.”
The work he does through his different associations and cultural groups empowers al-Kinani to be an advocate for those with disabilities, but he knows that part of the routine involves battling stereotypes.
“Stereotypes exist and that’s a fact, but their intensity varies according to culture. For example, some might be prejudiced towards those of us with disabilities and believe that we are to unable to do our jobs properly and that the best thing for us is to stay home,” he explained.
“We have to change this perception – it hurts us because those people do not know our strength and what we can achieve. We are the ones who can bring about this change, as we have proven numerous times.”
This article was written by Vanessa Okoth-Obbo, IOM Iraq Public Information Officer