Helping disabled Egyptians live independently

Mostafa Kamal Attia, an alumnus of HANDS’ Professional Fellows Program, serves the Egyptian community by empowering those with disabilities in the workplace. Being visually impaired himself, Mostafa realized at a young age the many disadvantages that persons with disabilities face in Egypt, and has worked for over 12 years of experience helping combat such limitations. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Disability, Sustainability, and Inclusive Development at the University of Leeds, U.K.

Mostafa has worked for the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood in the disability unit, combining policy and practice. He also served on the board of the National Council for Disability Affairs for two terms working closely with the Administration of Economic Empowerment. He then became Managing Director of the Ahl Masr Association.

Although Mostafa had an impressive career in disability rights, he was eager to expand his knowledge and involvement in policy-making and economic empowerment for persons with disabilities. Mostafa was accepted to HANDS’ Professional Fellows Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, in spring 2014.

Mostafa at his fellowship organization in Chicago, Access Living

Mostafa spent several weeks as a fellow with Access Living in Chicago IL. Access Living is a preeminent force in the disability advocacy community, enabling disabled people in Chicago to live independently. Mostafa learned about accessibility measures from policy experts in their legal department and was awed by their commitment to advocacy for accessible housing.

For Mostafa, one of the highlights of his fellowship was a visit to the Illinois state legislature, where he spoke with state senators about political, social, and economic concerns surrounding persons with disabilities. Mostafa also attended the Professional Fellows Congress held in Washington DC to network with other State Department-sponsored fellows, including other professionals who work in disability rights in Egypt, many of whom he collaborated with upon his return.

Mostafa speaking at the Professional Fellows Congress 


Upon his return to Egypt, Mostafa was back to working hard, energized by refreshed perspective, new experiences and expanded network of professional contacts. In 2015, he was chosen to represent the Egyptian delegation to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

For Mostafa, all of these experiences as a Professional Fellow shaped his outlook on those with disabilities living independently and equally in the community. He recently wrote to us that his fellowship “gave [him] the opportunity to see different practices on different grounds and it enhanced [his] policy making capabilities by observing as a participant how Access Living formulate the problems and challenges that the US disabled citizen face into both political and legal framework.”


Upon the completion of his Ph.D., Mostafa is looking forward to continuing to improve the lives of people with disabilities by enabling policy changes and turning his research into practice.

Mostafa and other State Department fellows 


HANDS would like to thank the U.S. Department of State, our other donors, and our partner organizations for supporting the growth of civil society leaders like Mostafa. Thanks to your generosity, these fellows receive the tools to effectively improve their communities.