AMSAT: Levelling Down Syndrome

April 27, Rabat,  #IBMCSC  #CSCMor10 #IBMCSCMorocco10 #Citizen

AMSAT, an NGO, is the acronym for- which when translated into English reads- ‘The Moroccan Support and Assistance for people afflicted with Down Syndrome’. It was set up in 1981 under a different avatar and has evolved to now focus only on people with Down Syndrome. It has the backing of the Royal family of Morocco and a few other prime donors but that evidently is not enough. The NGO supports 327 individuals but there is a waiting list of 400 people.

My colleagues, Diep Nguyen from Vietnam, Gerardo Elizondo from Mexico, Liz Markiewicz from the U.S. and Ulrich Leuthner, from Germany have been assigned to do a consulting engagement for AMSAT. Ulrich and I have had an animated exchange on the AMSAT project and today six other IBMers and myself decide to join the IBM AMSAT project team at the AMSAT restaurant for lunch. At our table, we are together with Zahir Mastapha, Director and Fatima Zahra, a key sponsor. I ask both Mastapha and Fatima Zahra about their backgrounds and what really motivated them to be associated with AMSAT. Many reasons, I gather, but neither of them have any family member or close one suffering from Down Syndrome.

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Above: Paintings by AMSAT children

AMSAT has a novel way of supporting its beneficiaries. It’s called the ‘AMSAT Way’. They speak the language of services  instead of therapy; they refer to the recipients of services as users instead of patients. For more information on the AMSAT way check out my colleague Ulrich’s post on Understanding the AMSAT Way . The restaurant is done up most tastefully and the walls support several paintings done by AMSAT children. AMSAT is more than a therapy or a services centre; it is a companion for children and young adults in their journey through life. It’s important for you to know that the restaurant is operated (mostly) by AMSAT users and this forms a part of the services offered in bringing them as close to the mainstream. Our colleagues later on show us around the centre and explain the types of services that users undertake. This includes art lessons, physiotherapy, speech and sports services and much more. A key objective of AMSAT is to extend their services to include training mothers to deal with and manage their children so as to step-up their integration in society.

AMSAT needs advocacy, legislation, funding and more. The IBM team has worked on a management plan that addresses these needs. The plan is to help mobilise sponsorships and diversification of financial resources; build a marketing and communications strategy and to equip AMSAT with donor database management and other tools.

The lunch is great; the strawberry quencher is awesome but just being with the AMSAT team and visiting their facility is an enlightening experience. To learn more about AMSAT and see how you can help them, do visit their website http://www.amsat.ma

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