My name is Aminata and I was born in Mali and grew up in Togo. The other half of my life in Germany, because my adoptive father is German. Through him I had the chance to travel a lot as a small child and cross the Sahara Desert a few times.
These trips have made me what I am today. My handicap never played an overriding role! In every single country that I travelled to, I quickly got to know friendly people who cared for me and made deep friendships with most encounters. Through my unconventional upbringing, despite my limitations, I have become an independent young lady. My life was everything, but not easy- but I accepted and mastered every challenge.
I have been supported by many different people with different abilities and personality. The most important thing for me is the inner core of every being. I don't care about the external characteristics, such as skin color, religion, appearance and physical condition, since I love the variety!
The most important thing for me is the inner core of every being.
Unfortunately, I often had to accumulate the experience in Germany that the wheelchair is still an obstacle in many areas of life. In most medical practices it is "normal" to build the reception counter so high that no interpersonal first contact can arise when entering the room. Withdrawing money doesn't go anywhere, most vending machines are so high that we can't get to them. Most gyms are not able to accommodate people with limitation because of insurance coverage. Many restaurants, bars, cinemas, shops, etc. have no barrier-free access. Public transport is barrier-free, but very often the drivers refuse to let the ramp down, at least in Heidelberg this is the everyday life, there is even a law that forbids the driver to put down the ramp. When I am with my friends or in company, strangers talk to them and want to know what the girl there has, instead of talking directly to me. In the queue I am often overlooked, and there too etc.
How many times I had to listen to the statement "You are handicapped and may not be happy!" or "Why do you look too good for a disabled". My entire person is often called into question because I am not typical.
I feel that there is a certain idea of physically handicapped people out there.
Only my stay in America showed me that the way how Germany deals with physically and mentally handicapped people is so wrong. I was very amazed at how everything is accessible in San Diego. I was able to move around freely with the wheelchair everywhere and the people there were always accommodating, helpful and very friendly to me. My fears and worries vanished immediately. I met a lot of people with a physical limitation and I had to find out that most of them were fully socially integrated. Through these people I have come to the realization that I have become very fit and mobile. I want to have the same thing in Germany, because there is no reason to reject people who are different.