A Universal Mission: Advancing the Deaf Community of Morocco
Mounir Naili, an alumnus of HANDS’ Professional Fellows Program, dedicates his life to serving the deaf community in Morocco. His passion for helping the disabled was inspired by his close friend, the first deaf Moroccan to earn a Ph.D., who also established an non-governmental organization that serves the hearing impaired. Years ago, Mounir learned sign language at the TAWASSOL Association of the Deaf, a group committed to improving the lives of the hearing impaired in Morocco. Today, he is the vice president of the organization.
According to Mounir, one of his greatest accomplishments was becoming a brother to those he served. He was encouraged by the impact of his organization to learn more about disability advocacy outside of Morocco. When Mounir applied to HANDS’ Professional Fellows Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the selection committee immediately distinguished his integrity, professionalism, and a genuine enthusiasm for improving the lives of disabled persons in Morocco.
Mounir on a site visit in Chicago
During his month-long fellowship with the Chicago Hearing Society, Mounir learned about disability rights in the public and private sector in the United States and worked alongside colleagues from Tunisia, Egypt, and Morocco. He even picked up a little bit of American Sign Language.
As part of his fellowship, Mounir attended a cochlear implant surgery at the University of Illinois at Chicago Hospital, spoke with deaf children at the Children of Peace School, attended a graduation ceremony of the Department of American Sign Language at Columbia College, and participated in the Autism Speaks walk with the other fellows. He tells us, “for me, being there far from home and serving disabled people is a universal human mission I can defend and contribute to from anywhere in the world.”
Mounir (center bottom) at the Autism Speaks walk in Chicago with other members of HANDS’ Professional Fellows Program
After returning to Morocco, Mounir immediately devoted his time and energy into strengthening TAWASSOL’s initiatives by providing more legal aid for its participants and enhancing programs to assimilate the deaf community into society.
Mounir is grateful for this personal, life changing experience, which will help him transform the lives of members of the deaf community in Morocco. He recently wrote to us:
“Thanks to U.S. people for their welcoming and kindness, to Hands Along the Nile team for making this fellowship a lifetime experience, to my second family at Chicago Hearing Society, all the organizations and people who opened their doors and [their] hearts as well, the U.S. State Department, and to my fellows team who brought [me] this experience.”
Mounir with a colleague from the Chicago Hearing Society.
HANDS would like to thank the U.S. Department of State, our partner organizations, and our donors for helping change-makers, like Mounir, develop professionally so that they can make effective and long-lasting change in their communities.