Celebrate Best Buddies UAE: Sonali and Rochelle


Best Buddies United Arab Emirates was launched in 2006. In Dubai, Best Buddies has programs at Millennium High School and Emirates International School. These schools are pioneers of the social inclusion movement in the United Arab Emirates, where Best Buddies is truly a revolutionary concept. They have extraordinary friendships that transcend the common misconceptions prevalent in greater UAE community. Sonali Chopra shares the story of her friendship with her buddy, Rochelle Baptist:

Joining Best Buddies has been one of the best decisions of my life. In 2007 when we were introduced to this concept and asked if we wanted to be a part of the organization, I immediately said yes.

When I joined Best Buddies I was paired with Rochelle Baptist. Over the past three years we have built a great friendship based on mutual interests. When I met Rochelle for the first time at her home, one thing immediately struck me – she was very meticulous and kept her room spotless. I was inspired. Since then my room has always been well maintained – something that my mother has never been able to get me to do.

Both of us love art activities and share a passion for games and rides. It amazes me every time I see her paint with firm and beautiful strokes. The malls and especially the games area is our usual hang out spot. We enjoy sitting on rides and playing arcade games. I recently introduced her to car racing video games and she turned out to be quite good at them. She is the only person I have met who doesn’t get a fright sitting on a roller coaster, or any other ride. She is as calm as ever while I sit next to her screaming. Sometimes after finishing with the rides we go shopping. Rochelle is very affectionate and when she says that she loves being with me, I think nothing in the world could make me feel happier.

I joined Best Buddies not only because it was an opportunity to help someone, but also because I knew that I would learn a lot, and truly Best Buddies has been an inspirational journey. I have learnt to accept and enjoy life the way it comes. I really enjoy my time spent with Rochelle and I hope to continue my friendship with her long after school is over.

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About Best Buddies

Best Buddies® is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

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