From social isolation to social participation

My name is Abrahim Darouiche, or Ibby, and I am 26 years old. I have a physical disability known as neuro-muscular dystrophy.

I work as a peer facilitator with the Diversity and Disability Alliance (DDA) and as a peer mentor, where I form one-on-one relationships with a person with disability or their family member.

My main aim is to support these people to become more independent with their decision making and their lives.

Social isolation

Before I joined DDA, I felt socially isolated. I found it difficult to communicate with others and my conversations were really short. I wanted to avoid people.

Even at university and college, where I spent six years completing four degrees, I was still unable to establish a relationship. I only kept in contact with one colleague.

Although I had completed four degrees, I was unable to find work that was related to my field of study.

Joining DDA

When I was told about DDA and the Peer2Peer cafes that they were running, I was a bit unsure about whether this was the right thing for me.

A Peer2Peer cafe is an information session run by people with disability, for people with disabilities, their family, friends and allies, on a particular topic they need help and support with.

The room was filled with positive energy and the participants were interacting with the facilitators. It reminded me of my days back at university and college, where I used to help people with their studies.

Helping others to achieve their goals, was always a passion of mine. Just the act of helping others makes me feel good inside. I knew then what I wanted to do. I wanted to become a facilitator.

Becoming a facilitator

I was involved with all the training that DDA threw at me and so, I soon completed my certificate to officially become a facilitator. I was a guest speaker at some of the Peer2Peer cafes.

That gave me the confidence to express myself in front of an audience, something which I had struggled to do before, especially at university.

My first facilitation role was at the CORE office in Fairfield, Sydney, where I facilitated one of the Team Up trainings. At first, I was nervous, but my co-facilitator was there to support me and so, slowly the nerves went away.

I started to break down the barriers of being shy and nervous and began to build the confidence of facilitating in front of a group of people.

Growing in confidence

Overtime, as I started to facilitate more and more of the training across different locations, my nerves and shyness started to disappear and confidence took over.

I recently ran a Peer2Peer cafe on confidence and another, on using your voice and having choice and control in your life.

Next steps

All the participants that participated in the Peer2Peer cafes and training that I facilitated were amazing and actively engaged. I have built a huge network full of wonderful, talented individuals.

Now that I have developed the knowledge, skills, expertise and built a huge network of peers, my goal is to run a peer support group in the Bankstown area.

Links

Team Up peer training resources will be available online soon. Sign up to our newsletter to find out when they land.

Learn more about Diversity and Disability Alliance.

Read more stories about peer support from Team Up.

Watch peer support in action.

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