Morocco program aims to employ people with disabilities

A restaurant in Sale, Morocco, is providing much-needed employment and social integration for people with mental disabilities.

The Centre for Integration and Help through Work (CIAT) runs the eatery, located on a farm, and employs around 60 individuals.

Fadoua Lamrani, a 33-year-old waitress, exemplifies the positive impact of the program.

Previously unemployed, Lamrani feels immense joy working at the restaurant. CIAT aims to break down societal barriers and equip people with disabilities for jobs typically out of reach.

Public and private partnerships fund CIAT. Said Beqqal, program head, acknowledges employer apprehension regarding hiring people with disabilities.

However, CIAT offers training in hospitality, retail, and agriculture, empowering individuals for diverse roles.

Some employees work in the restaurant, while others tend to the farm, growing vegetables and raising livestock under supervision.

The unemployment rate for people with disabilities in Morocco is nearly 48%, highlighting the critical need for such initiatives.

The Mohammed VI National Centre for People with Disabilities (CNMH) launched a program in 2010 to address this issue, offering specific training for those with mental disabilities.

Diners like Mohammed Hommani appreciate the restaurant’s dual purpose – enjoying a delicious meal while supporting a worthy cause.

Imad Moufid, a 31-year-old farm worker, proudly shares his newfound skills in cultivating vegetables and fruits.

His work allows him to financially support his mother.

While Lamrani cherishes her job, she also aspires to work in a mainstream restaurant, just like any other waitress.

Similarly, Ismail El Tabaa, another employee, harbors dreams of opening his own restaurant.

CIAT’s success is evident. Since 2016, six additional centers have opened, training 228 individuals, 42 of whom have secured employment elsewhere.

They manage another restaurant employing people with disabilities in Temara, participate in job fairs, and actively promote their program.

Despite these efforts, Beqqal acknowledges the ongoing challenge of meeting the nationwide needs of people with disabilities.

Dounia Zine El Abidine, the restaurant’s reservations manager, emphasizes their mission to “change society’s view on disability,” a crucial step towards a more inclusive future.

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