Ahmed Abukar was nine when he and his family fled war-torn Somalia. They settled in Canada, a shocking new climate, language, and culture. From his home in Africa, it was a world away, a world Ahmed couldn’t see.
Ahmed was born with a rare eye disease called Leber Amaurosis. He sees colors and vague shapes. Because of his disability, he had no formal schooling in his home country.
“They don’t have accommodations in place for people with visual impairment. And so up to the age of nine, I did not go to school. So I started school for the first time when I moved to Canada,” Ahmed recalls.
Ahmed is part of the largest minority group in the world. One billion people live with a disability. That number is growing due to age, illness, and circumstance. That minority group has the highest rate of unemployment and under-employment.
Ahmed learned English and Braille. He memorized transit routes to get around independently. He developed confidence that helps him navigate physical barriers, including the barriers to employment.
“It took a long time. A lot of rejections. But I didn’t look at it as rejection. I look at it as another thing I need to overcome,” says Ahmed.
Ahmed’s immediate goal after attending university was to land an internship as a financial analyst. But would he be able to overcome the roadblocks placed in front of him as a young man with a disability in the job market?