People with ‘this ability’ stand out at BigB meet-up
April 22 2019 12:19 AM
PANELLISTS: From left, Ahmed al-Shahrani, Mohammed al-Hayder, Faisal al-Kooheji, Ismail bin Yusaf. Photo by Jayan Orma

By Mudassir Raja

The resilience of people with ‘this ability’ was witnessed by a good number of people on Saturday evening at the open terrace of Al Aziziyah Boutique Hotel, Aspire Zone where BigB MeetUp community organised its third get together. The theme of the meet-up was ‘This Ability,’ highlighting and appreciating accomplishments of people with disabilities.
It was incredibly inspiring to see people with disability talk about their disability as not their weakness, or in any way a challenge affecting their creative abilities.
BigB MeetUp is a community initiative founded by Bosco Menezes, an Indian expatriate. The aim of this initiative is to inspire, inform, educate and spread the news of the good deeds individuals and groups of people perform in their everyday lives for the betterment of humankind. It brings locals and expatriates together as one to celebrate the gift of life, championing camaraderie among all with the intention to exchange and impart knowledge.
The gathering included members from different active communities including prominent people with disabilities having extraordinary achievements. 
The most prominent among them were namely; Ahmed al-Shahrani, who was co-organiser and the master of ceremony of the event, Mariam al-Mulla, a Qatari artist, Mohamed al-Hayder, a life coach, Faisal al-Kooheji, Chairman of Qatar Social and Cultural Center for the Blind, Ismail bin Yusaf, a champion volunteer.
The gathering provided an opportunity to the attendees to socialise and speak to the people with disabilities and about their achievements. The event continued over two hours as the people enjoyed the opportunity to learn and appreciate the differently abled people.
The gathering specially enjoyed a dance performance by three gifted but differently abled children. The kids’ dance enchanted the people who appreciated the fact that the dancers had no stage fear. 
Art works by Mariam were another attention grabbing attraction of the event.
Ahmed al-Shahrani said: “The good come-out of the people shows the importance of our subject. We thank everyone and all those who helped organise it.”
In his welcome speech, Bosco said: “This turn-out has actually made me nervous. The people with disability are actually the people with ‘this ability’ – the ability to inspire beyond parallel. We aspire to inspire like them.
“I would like to thank supporters like Jumbo Electronics, LG, I Love Qatar, Qatar Living, Radio Olive and Radio Suno, and Al Aziziyah Boutique Hotel.”
Speaking on the occasion, Mariam al-Mulla said that she had been living with disability for seven years. The first four years were really tough. She was an art instructor in a school. She said it was a difficult transition but she came out of the shell of disability as it showed her a wider world. Mariam said that the change really affected her life in a positive way when she started sharing her art works on social media and started receiving encouraging feedback.
She is also a member of an international art community. She has become a prolific painter. One of her works – that she displayed – is called ‘Resilience Melody.’ It is a work that portrays unjust blockade of Qatar. The art work is two metre high and two metre wide. The painting speaks to the onlookers. It shows how people of Qatar, families and even animals like camels are affected by the blockade.
She asserted: “Disability does not affect the people’s ability to achieve their goals.”
The exhibition of her artworks and her speech were followed by a panel discussion about how people with disabilities can work for their goals. The panellists included Mohammed al-Hayder, Faisal al-Kooheji, and Ismail bin Yusaf. The discussion was anchored by Ahmed al-Shahrani. Ahmed said: “Alchemy, for me, is like taking all the negative things of the work into you and turning them into something positive. And, it is to work for a better world.”
The panel discussion focused on how important it is for an individual to keep striving for a set goal. The panellists highlighted the significance of hope in the life of a person with disability. The audience appreciated the inspiring thoughts of the speakers.
Following the panel discussion, Jose Saucedo, Director of Doha Environmental Actions Project, highlighted the need for and significance of the beach clean-up efforts carried out by his group.
In the end, Bosco announced launch of his BigB Fotografi Ability Awards. The first awards were handed over to six recipients namely, Maryam al-Mulla, Ahmed al-Shahrani, Ismail bin Yusaf, Mohamed al-Hayder, Faisal al-Kooheji, and Mohammed Sadoon al-Kuwari.

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