(ERGO) – Muse Mohamed Halane, 27, disabled from infancy by a bout of polio, succeeded in gaining a top class university education, only to be faced by a wall of discrimination from both public and private employers in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Turned away at 50 jobs he applied for, Muse now runs a tailoring shop he set up in January, where he employs two other disabled people and manages to support his family.
He is bitter that despite graduating with a first class honours degree in Business Administration and Management from Somali University in 2019, he was rejected by organisations advertising jobs for which he was fully qualified.
“I followed all the steps of the job applications and sent my CV to companies advertising job openings in my field of study. Unfortunately, I was discriminated against because of my disability,” he said.
“I feel aggrieved and upset when I am told ‘You can’t work because of your disability,’ – yet I passed my degree with an A and I have the knowledge. Being told you can’t do this job when you can clearly see the job can be done by a disabled person is really frustrating!” he said.
Muse applied for jobs in finance, accounting, human resources and customer care in telecommunications companies, educational institutions, and government offices in Banadir region. He was invited for 20 interviews, but on seeing him in person the employers informed him outright that despite having the right qualifications they could not hire him because of his disability.
Muse told Radio Ergo he had always dreamed of a career job after completing his university studies. He was shocked by the rejections and unmasked discrimination he encountered.
Now, however, Muse is employing two other disabled people at his tailoring shop, which he opened with money from his uncle. He has five employees and makes $15-$20 in profit a day, enabling him to support his wife and two children who previously depended on his parents.
Muse, disabled since he was eight months old, says he judges people by their capabilities.
“I was given $2,000 when my family saw how distressed I was and that is how I started this place. I welcome the job seekers without any discrimination,” he said.
One of his employees is Mohamed Abukar Hassan, 22, who lost both legs in a car accident at the age of five. He had been searching for work for two years and started the job in March.
Mohamed, a father of one, received tailoring training in 2019 and uses a specially adapted sewing machine at Muse’s shop.
“I didn’t have any hope of getting a job here, but I got better than I expected and he was very welcoming. He asked me what I could do and he was quick to give me feedback that I got the job,” said Mohamed, who is on a $150 monthly salary.
The chairman of the Somali National Disability Association, Sayid Ali Abdullahi Salad, told Radio Ergo that most disabled people in Somalia find it hard to get a job or education. He said laws are needed to set aside an employment quota for disabled people in both public and private sectors.
“The Somali government is yet to ratify the National Disability Act, which if signed will clarify their political participation, education, environmental and employment rights. Once this law passes, people with disabilities will be able to seek their rights through a legal process,” he said.