Samieh Hardani’s personal experience of disability is that she finds there are no barriers! There are only thresholds which are there to be overcome!
Samieh is from Iran and is a mother of two adult daughters. She had polio as a young child and emigrated from Iran to Sweden in 1989. She was treated well when she came to Sweden and received the services she needed without any problems. One of these key services was home help.
She became involved in disability issues in 1993 as she discovered it was possible to make a difference in Sweden! She saw how she could influence issues concerning her life. She became a role model for others. She first joined the mobility impairment organisation where she lived in Borlänge, Sweden.
Samieh became a member of STIL for her personal assistance services. Her municipality had informed her about personal assistance when the reform bill was passed in 1994. She then had personal assistance through her municipality but found she did not have the control over her life she wanted to have. There were too many different people coming to help her. She found out from a friend that she could have more control by joining STIL – the Swedish cooperative and founders of Independent Living in Sweden where she herself could administrate her assistance. She found that this was fantastic!
As a child she was strongly influenced by her Mother and Father and her Aunt who helped her not to see her disability as a barrier to living life. She was shown that she had to fight when things were tough and that she would succeed.
It was not difficult to find work in Sweden but she first had to learn Swedish. Once she had succeeded she has had several different types of work. She has worked in a preschool centre, for the national insurance agency and as a secretary from many years at a driving school. For the past seven years, she has worked as an interpreter, translating Persian to Swedish.
She had a high school education from Iran and complemented these studies with Swedish high school studies. She then took a number of courses to learn additional knowledge that she needed.
As an interpreter she finds the treatment she receives interesting. When she comes to the health care facilities as an interpreter everyone thinks she is the patient. As she is sitting in a wheelchair this is taken for granted. When she explains the reason why she is there, she has to show her personality and strength to be accepted. She does not allow this negative treatment affect her! She has to assist inexperienced people and ensure she is treated as anyone else. She tells the health professionals that it is ok that they have seen her as a patient but that just because she using a wheelchair does not mean that she is a patient! She becomes stronger in herself everyday in these kinds of situations.
Samieh is proud to be a woman, a mother and a person in society who makes a difference. She shows people how one can be filled with positive energy!
Her vision for the labour market for disabled people is that we are to be visible within it! In Iran the situation was bad. She finished high school and had a life of cooking and sewing before her, of not being able to go out and this is not what she wanted for her life. A disabled woman in Iran was met with no expectation!
In Sweden she was treated well and found that she could do things. She was a woman, disabled and even an immigrant but doors opened!
She advises young people to get out there! Society will not come to find you at home. Doors will be closed but then find the next one and open it. Study, fight and show the world what you can.We must be out there opening new doors. We must stand for what we believe and want. We cannot just be dependent of others to help!
Here is video with Samieh and shows her daily life in Sweden: