The globe has over 7 billion people. Over One Billion have some form of disability. 3 December is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and this year’s theme is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all.”

I would like to share a personal story that takes one to a world of empowerment from death and disability. This weekend, Ambassador Mo Sacirbey and I shared in the celebration of an individual and his mother whose story five years ago caught our attention and that of the Global Medical Relief Fund when we saw Mohammed’s tragic story on CNN. Despite losing his leg and the psychological trauma of witnessing the death of his six-year old cousin in the same explosion, Mohammed said that his goal was to become an architect so that he could rebuild schools in Iraq. Each day he “watered” his cousin’s grave.

On September 15, 2007, 12-year-old Mohammed Al Jumaili and his mother Jinan, touched down on American soil and began their journey of hope and empowerment.
Mohammed’s story doesn’t end with his prosthetic leg and the treatment he received from The Shriners Childrens Hospital in Philadelphia. His road to empowerment, through education, learning a new language, new developmental skills, and giving back to society had only begun.

On Saturday, 2 December, Mohammed was honored with Scoutings highest honor: The Eagle Court of Honor. This is a feat that goes beyond mere excellence and learning. His credentials include more than 12 clubs in school including the Key Club, Student Council, Reading Olympics, chess team, robotics, and sports; football, wrestling, tennis, volleyball and indoor soccer. He was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award and won a blue ribbon in the Reading Olympics, and is an active reporter with a column in The Abingtonian newspaper. And Hamed is yet to turn 18!

The ceremony Saturday was held to a full-house at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill (Philadelphia), Pennsylvania. As Mohammed, a Muslim, received his award and spoke graciously and eloquently in giving thanks to his mother and sponsors, we all felt humbled. Hamed has been embraced by all that is good about America — a society of openness, freedom to practice his religion, opportunity for a second chance.

Mohammed is a striking example of the worth of every individual. “Disability” is a misnomer for him and the one billion other people in the world who have been categorized as “disabled.’ These special people have other special talents and are a part of the fabric of humanity that contributes to the greater good and provides “the rest”  with their knowledge and insight.

Mohammed stands tall and strong and exemplifies this year’s theme: “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all.”  Eagle Scout — you soar!

By, Susan Sacirbey

Facebook: Become a fan “Susan Sacirbey”

Follow us on TWITTER @DiplomaticallyX