Readers respond to epileptic man’s dilemma

Several companies and recruiters have approached The National asking how to contact Ahmed Al Kaabi to offer him a job after reading about his frustrations last month.

Ahmed Al Kaabi with his one-month-old daughter Marim and his son, Khalifa. Ahmed suffers from epilepsy and has been fired from every job because of his condition. Delores Johnson / The National
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ABU DHABI // Since The National published an article last month entitled "Young epileptic man frustrated by lack of job opportunities in UAE", a handful of employers have reached out to offer help.

One of the first to offer 23-year-old Ahmed Al Kaabi an opportunity was the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation.

Sue Gee Cheng, senior talent recruiter, said: “I am obviously surprised to find out that there are people who are prejudiced against people with epilepsy, and how difficult it is for people with this illness to find work in their own country.

“It saddens me. In my eight years in the recruitment industry, I have not encountered any job seekers having their applications rejected solely for having this illness. We don’t even ask about illnesses during their interview or in their application.”

Ms Cheng is assisting Mr Al Kaabi in the application process and is hopeful that he will be able to secure a job soon.

Esmaeel Alhashemi, from the internal audit group at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, was also one of the first to email The National about helping.

“I was surprised by responses from his previous employers, but at the same time I understand their stance,” he said in his email. He asked that the newspaper put him in touch with Mr Al Kaabi.

“Do assure him there are opportunities for him. Let me be among several who will flood your email with proposals for him.

“Would you please email me his CV/ resume. There are a few options available for him at our bank, which HR can offer him based on his qualifications.”

Mr Al Kaabi has sent a response to ADCB as well as to other private-sector companies who have come forward.

“This is the first time that some who already know of my condition have already offered me a job. Usually I’ll get an offer then [get] rejected because they know of my condition,” Mr Al Kaabi said. “If this is the case that they know that I have epilepsy and are willing to offer me a job, then I will work hard to secure it and prove myself. They won’t regret giving me a chance.”

Mr Al Kaabi is currently continuing his education at the Higher Colleges of Technology.

“I’ll work at day and study at night. I’m tired of sitting at home and I need the money to support my family. My henna sticker business is not working out so I’ll do whatever it takes to get a job and remain at it.”

He is confident that he will break the stigma surrounding epilepsy, which also affects a sibling and several relatives, all of whom have been living in the shadows because of their illness.

“This will prove to them that epilepsy does not get in your way.”