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Souhaila, Morocco

“Normally I don't participate in these kinds of things,” Souhaila says when I spontaneously approach her on the street. "But I'm going to think about it because this sounds good." For a moment I was afraid that I would not hear back from her, but a few weeks later she texts me. She's excited. And her mother too. “Maybe you can photograph me during my internship?”

A week later we meet over a cup of coffee. “I am studying at MBO Rijnland to become a care worker. At first, I thought it was a little frightening to come to Leiden since I don't live in the city. It's beautiful here, but I also found out that it is not always wheelchair accessible. Fortunately, my classmates help me when needed. Currently I do an internship at a day care center for the elderly part of my week. Next year I hope to be able to work with young people, so that I can choose my specialization after having experienced both.”

“I am now doing the first year for the third time. The first two times I was at a different school, but I was sick too often. I was in the hospital for weeks on end. It has nothing to do with the muscle disease that I have in my lower legs, but by that time I also turned out to have Crohn's disease. It made me feel angry that I had to drop out of the other school, because there was nothing I could do about that, could I? I felt powerless. Now I have a stoma and I feel completely well again.”

"I live with my mom. I spend my free time with my nephew and niece, the children of my sisters. Or I go for a drive with my best friend, who just got her driver's license. I also play sitting volleyball. Both people with and without disabilities participate in it, because you play while sitting on the floor. So, without a wheelchair. I am by far the youngest in the club, because the other five are over fifty. We are still trying to find new members.”

“It's only in recent years that I've started taking my religion more seriously. This week was Eid al-Fitr. Ramadan is very special to me. I think fasting is so beautiful. It helps you to focus more on what happens around you. To see and help people who are worse off than you. Myself, I am just grateful. Grateful for who I am and all that I have.”


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