The U.S. Department of State has selected Nora Al-Othman of Kuwait as October’s International Exchange Alumni member of the month. Throughout October, Al-Othman will be recognized on the International Exchange Alumni website for her leadership in providing the disability community with employment training and skills development in Kuwait. Each month, the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs confers this award on an outstanding alumnus or alumna of an exchange, to support alumni as they build on their experiences.
In a country with few institutions dedicated to serving the needs of the disability community, Nora Al-Othman’s organization, Training Gate International (TGI), is a deeply appreciated rarity. Founded in 2009, TGI is Kuwait’s leading nonprofit for providing the disability community with employment training and skills development. Nora attributes TGI’s rapid and sustained growth to the management techniques she learned during her International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) on disability rights in 2011. Through her IVLP exchange, she learned how to incorporate TGI members’ feedback into every aspect of project implementation.
Nora also implemented Kuwait’s first Dewan for citizens with disabilities. Dewans are traditional social gatherings that represent a vital part of Kuwait’s society. Dewan Samia is a weekly open forum where the disability community can share their personal experiences and find solutions to common challenges. Visits by politicians and advocates to the Dewan permit participants with disabilities to lobby for positive changes in their communities.
Nora’s passion for empowering the disability community is not confined to Kuwait. In 2012, she invited Mobility International USA (MIUSA) to participate in her International Day of Persons with Disabilities program in Kuwait. Three MIUSA members accepted her invitation and played an instrumental role in the program’s success by offering their insight into the evolution of disability rights in the United States.
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