In March, Special Advisor on International Disability Rights Sara Minkara traveled to Lebanon as part of her first official visit abroad to meet government officials and representatives of civil society and to promote the rights of persons with disabilities ahead of Parliamentary elections scheduled for May. Throughout her engagements, she underscored how inclusion brings value to societies as a whole and emphasized the importance of shifting from a charity-based model to one that recognizes the value and rights of persons with disabilities. As an internationally recognized champion for disability inclusion and first-generation Lebanese American from Tripoli, Minkara has retained her close ties in Lebanon and the region, a fact reflected in the warm and enthusiastic welcome extended to her in both official and informal contexts. Members of the disability rights community gathered at the ambassador’s residence to welcome Minkara, March 16. Back row, from left: Protocol Assistant Jessy Abou Eid; U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for Climate Change Michael Haddad; Rachel Saliba from the Education Development Center in Lebanon; Wassim El Hage from Agonist Coffee Shop; Haya El Rawi from the International Committee for the Red Cross; Minkara; Joseph Helou from the Lebanese American University; Kawthar Taleb from the Social Welfare Institute; Ambassador Dorothy Shea; Special Assistant Hanah Nasri; Cultural Affairs Officer Hermila Yifter. Front row, from left: Poet and journalist Rula Helo; para-athlete Ahmad Al Ghoul; Amal Charif from the HalTek Foundation; Fadi El Halabi from the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network; and Toufic Alloush from the Tripoli Disability in Sports Association.
Photo by Hermila Yifter