Entsar Bashuaiban: Achieving Gender Equality for Women with Disabilities!
Fatima Bawazir / Al Mukalla

In the corners of Al Mukalla City, a quiet coastal city and capital of Hadramawt governorate, Entsar Bashuaiban tells her story’s chapters of 19 years on her ambitious work in the Al Tumuh Association. She described the mornings while walking in city streets. She suffers from physical disability, but her disability has not robbed her will of moving forward towards achieving justice for the physically handicapped and rejecting any marginalization affecting females with special needs.
Entsar Abdullah Bashuaiban joined the Rehabilitation of Physical Handicapped Association in 2001 after the encouragement of a neighbor who is also a person with a disability. In the beginning, she rejected the idea, but then she was convinced. After the death of her father, Entsar was unable to complete her basic education. During that time, there were eight other brothers who needed her support for educational expenses, so her older sisters and she decided to stop studying in order to give a chance to their younger brothers because her family was not able to let everyone go to school.

Gender Fighting  
 Entsar saw that disabled females were marginalized as there were no activities and projects targeting them and all attention was given to males. When the time of the association elections came, Entsar challenged herself to be a member in the administrative authority and she ultimately succeeded to be a member in the Control and Inspection Committee. In the next electoral cycle of the association, she tried to hold the position of the Association Security-General in order to give her a chance to be closer to the decision-making circle and becoming familiar with all activities and tasks of the association.
She got deep insights and understood many processes. Based on that, she decided that handicapped women should have their own safe spaces to network amongst themselves.
She added, “Gender is important, but in that time 19 years ago, there was no awareness on the importance of women engagement in public life, particularly handicapped woman!"
One day, Entsar gathered the girls and informed them for the need to work on establishing their own association, so they all agreed immediately. However, the question that was asked at that time was: How to start and where to start?

Auspicious Efforts  
Entsar went to visit the Social Affairs and Labor Office and told them about her idea to establish an association for women with physical disabilities and rehabilitate them. She was requested to find a place and financial supporter for the association. She started with her friend, doing the initial good steps to achieve this goal attempting to find a financial supporter and a place for the association. As a result, all the attempts ultimately succeeded resulting in the establishment of Al Eyman Association for Physical Handicapped Care and Rehabilitation, which later took the name “Al Tumuh Association for Physical Handicapped Care and Rehabilitation”.
Dear reader, you must now think that Mr. Entsar founded the association, and everything settled calmly with her. If you think so, then you are not right.
Entsar suffered a lot in the first two years of the establishment of the association, as she was forced to work in her new headquarters without any budget only with self-efforts, until she was fully supported by the Handicap Care and Rehabilitation Fund in Sana’a with operational costs. Since then, till 2015, the association had worked well in empowering females with physical handicap.

Back to Zero
Due to the war which started in 2015, everything changed and the association stopped working due to the cessation of support provided from Sana’a. The association was unable to pay the office rent, so the owner of the building expelled its stuff, destroyed the association’s furniture and threw it outside the building. Entsar tried with her fellow members of the administrative authority of the association to maintain the rest of furniture in any place but found only schools to keep the furniture in until finding a new headquarters.
Entsar described those days by saying, “We used to work in the bus every morning looking for a supporter or a place to be used as an office to work from even for a limited time.”
The National Committee for Women was the supporter this time. Entsar keeps remembering the kindness of the committee and its chairperson in Mukalla saying: “We will not forget what the National Committee has done for us by giving us two rooms in its headquarters to be our headquarters. We stayed there for nearly six months, and we did not stop searching for a new supporter for us during that period.”
Entsar and her fellow members were lucky again and were able to find a financer for the association. The new financer was a philanthropist who admired the association’s work in empowering women with special needs, the vulnerable group in community.

Al Tumuh School
In 2016, the Association owned a private kindergarten which provided the requirements of a safe space for the physical handicaps. The expanding of the kindergarten to be a school was Entsar’s recurrent dream, so she was in contact with dropout handicapped girls from public schools because they were subjected to bullying from both students and teachers.
After Entsar presented the situation of the association, a philanthropist immediately agreed to support the association’s activities. In 2016 with a permission from the Ministry of Education, school of the association started and expanded with the passage to provide services from grade one to grade nine.  Also, the school was supported with textbooks, chairs and crutches, so Entsar and her friend, were able to convince many parents to let their girls to join the school; indeed, the girls, therefore, completed studying and reached the secondary stage. Today, Al Tumuh School have 100 female students in all grades.
Noor Bazuhair is one of the students who joined Al Tumuh School, said that she dropped out of a public school because she had not enough money for transportation to go to school. Consequently, she took sewing courses that enabled her to open her own enterprise as a dressmaker. She said, “Thanks first to Allah, then to Ms. Entsar and the association, as I could complete my education, which I could not complete in public school due to my health condition.”
Amal Al-Hibshi, a member of the association, has talents in drawing and handicrafts. She explained to us how she used to take her sisters' torn bags to make small bags for pens keeping as well as wallets to save money. She said, “I did not expect that I would have the opportunity to be trained on bag making, as it is my passion, but the association made this a reality”.  She added that “the community should be aware that there are handicapped women who have the abilities and skills to learn anything, and that the handicap is not in body but in the mentality.”
Entsar announced while talking about the activity conducted by the association for girl students on bags making, “There will be an exhibition next September for bags made by our students, and we will soon open a laboratory to produce bags in the association.”
Entsar continues proving her success in overcoming the barrier of handicap. After the establishment of the association, she completed her education and took a secondary school certificate from the Commercial Institute, then a BA in Business Administration.

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