Story 11

The self-taught Queen’s Young Leader

I didn’t always think I would get as far as I have in life. I was born with spina bifida and I use a wheelchair.

Mohammad Yaaseen Edoo outdoors in front of a brightly lit tree

I never went to primary school. The headmaster was unwilling to accept me because of my disability. But I really wanted to learn, and I taught myself to read.

With support at home from a wonderful primary school teacher, Mr Rishi Bundoo, I passed my certificate of primary education with flying colours. I went on to secondary school and then to university. My parents were so proud of me when I received a BSc in multimedia and web technologies.

In 2012 I was doing an internship at the disability unit of the Ministry of Social Security in Mauritius when a colleague received a phone call which changed my life.

The call was from a disability activist who was looking for people to join Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Young Voices in Mauritius, a group of young disabled people campaigning for disability rights. I joined up and shortly after became leader of the group.

I have now dedicated my life to fighting for the rights of disabled people. Leonard Cheshire Disability opened so many doors for me, including taking my first trip on an airplane to Zambia to attend the Young Voices regional conference.

Since then I have travelled around the world, including to New York in 2014 to participate in UN and UNICEF events, and to London to receive the Queen’s Young Leader Award in 2015, which recognises exceptional young people across the Commonwealth. I have also been nominated to be a Global Youth Ambassador for Education by A World at School.

But one of my proudest achievements is back here in Mauritius.

The Université des Mascareignes, where I completed my degree, was very supportive during my studies. However, it was not always easy for me to get around campus as there were no ramps for wheelchair users.

I raised this with the chancellor of the university, and I’m delighted to say that as a result there are now accessible ramps across the campus.

I am so happy that many more disabled people will now find it easier to access a university education.

I am considered a role model for disabled people in my country. I give talks to other young disabled people about my life and encourage them to make the most of their education and opportunities, and challenge the barriers that they experience.

Through Leonard Cheshire Disability I developed the confidence and skills to speak out and make a difference, and now I hope to inspire others to do the same.

I am considered a role model for disabled people in my country.