Diagnosed with a disability at 18
Hajar Suitri, 31, is originally from the Fez region of Morocco. She was born with retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary degenerative disease affecting the retina's cells.
Hajar is blind in her right eye and can only see with her left eye, limiting her field of vision.
It was years before Hajar realized she had a disability. Although a doctor regularly checked her eyes, she was 18 before she was diagnosed and officially recognized as a person with a disability. Although it was a challenge to move around and concentrate, Hajar was determined to live a fulfilling and independent life, so she enrolled in university and studied hard.
From literature student to professional
She decided to study French literature. Hajar’s first year at university was a struggle. She found it hard to adapt and fell into a depression. Although life was tough, Hajar stayed the course, passed her exams, and graduated with a bachelor's degree.
After completing her studies, she decided to learn Braille to better understand what life is like for people who are blind. This was how she met the chair of the École des non-voyants, a school for blind people in Fez, who suggested she take Braille classes at the school and work there to help and support young children. Her first teaching experience was an eye-opener.
“Coming into contact with the children was an extraordinary experience, really rewarding," says Hajar.
She took this opportunity to learn more about the lives and experiences of people with visual disabilities. She worked at the school for three years and at the same time studied for a vocational degree in teaching. After completing her studies, Hajar left the school, where there were few opportunities for promotion, and set off in search of new experiences.
Meeting with HI
After leaving the school in Fez, Hajar began looking for a new job. A friend suggested she send her resume to HI. Two days later, Khouala, a member of HI’s teams in Morocco, got in touch to suggest they meet to discuss her needs and aspirations.
Hajar's profile caught Khouala’s eye and she suggested Hajar take part in workshops, training courses and events to help her find a job.
A new opportunity for Hajar
Hajar met Cindy, HI's occupational inclusion officer, at a workshop in Casablanca where several telecom companies were looking to hire people with disabilities. Cindy, who acted as an intermediary for businesses at the event, approached WebHelp, a company specializing in outsourcing customer experience management.
A few days later, HI contacted Hajar again with an offer from WebHelp. Hajar traveled to Rabat for an interview at the company's offices and took a language and writing test. At the end of the process, Hajar was invited to join a pre-hire training course.
A new role at WebHelp
Hajar had misgivings before starting work at WebHelp, but she was determined to make the most of this new experience and give it her best shot. From day one, she tried hard to fit in and help her colleagues learn how to work with her. She also raised their awareness by providing them with information on her disability, of which they had no prior experience.
Although it took her a while to master her new work environment, everyone was friendly and helped her develop her skills. For the first few months, her colleagues were extremely supportive, helping her manage her stress and concentrate better on her tasks.
She joined the company's front office at the end of her training. She now fields outside calls, shares information on the company, and helps future applicants apply to WebHelp. Her role is to listen to people’s needs and manage call flows to make sure everyone gets through to the right person.
'HI is like family to me'
HI not only put Hajar in contact with WebHelp, but it also helped her settle in Rabat. It was not long before she joined the team at WebHelp. Cindy put her up for a few days while Hajar found her feet and somewhere to live in the Moroccan capital.
"Cindy is like a big sister to me. Her support and guidance have been really helpful because everything is new to me and there are so many changes to get used to," says Hajar.
HI also provided Hajar with money from a support fund to see her through her first few months of training, and pay her rent, transport costs, and other expenses. Without this financial support, Hajar would never have been able to embark on her new life. She is now financially independent and fulfilled in her work. Because she is self-reliant, she also makes the most of her time with friends and family and always finds a solution to a problem. Hajar and HI have kept in touch, and our teams in Morocco are like a second family to her.