Celebrate Best Buddies Qatar
Best Buddies Qatar was founded in 2007 with the support of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Misned, under the umbrella of the Shafallah Center. There are currently 4 high school and 4 college chapters in the capital city of Doha.
At the Qatar University chapter, the members have tried to change the perception of people with intellectual disabilities on their campus from the beginning. As part of spreading awareness about Best Buddies, and the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities, they organized a campaign and distributed brochures, bracelets and T-shirts that students still wear today. They posted stories and pictures on popular Qatari youth internet forums that received a great feedback from youth and left a significant impact. Founding member of the Qatar University chapter, Ahmed, shares the story of his friendship with Rashid.
Rashid and I were matched at the beginning of 2009. It was a really strange experience for me in the beginning because I had never interacted with a person with an intellectual disability before. While growing up, I had come to believe that many stereotypes and misconceptions widely held in our society were true. However, once Rashid and I started spending time together, these myths were dispelled and we quickly became best friends.
Rashid and I frequent this big shopping mall called Landmark which is located near Rashid’s house. In the mall there is an entertainment area we visit to from time to time called, “Circus Land.” It has a very authentic carnival atmosphere complete with rides and fun houses. Rashid is very popular in this mall; he is friends with everyone, including the security guards and sales people. He has introduced me to a lot of people there and thanks to Rashid they are now my friends too. While at the mall, Rashid always volunteers to perform athan (call for prayers) in the mall’s mosque, which really shows that he has a strong sense of leadership.
One of the sad memories that my buddy Rashid often recalls is when his father passed away. I think Best Buddies is helping him to get through this sad time by surrounding him with supportive friends and giving him an outlet to become a very active member of our chapter.
Although our formal Best Buddies commitment ended with the end of the academic year, we still kept seeing each other over the summer vacation. At the beginning of the current academic year, Rashid asked me to be matched as his friend again. It seemed natural, as we had continued to see each other outside of the Best Buddies commitment, but still made me feel very happy at the time that he asked. Since then, our friendship has grown to a new level.
Rashid says his experience with Best Buddies has been “excellent” and that he likes the good people involved, and if anyone wants to be part of Best Buddies they should do it so they can meet some good people too. I agree.