Khanlar Mammadov a participant of the British Council’s Inclusive Internship Scheme in Azerbaijan, shares his story about working in a global organisation, learning new skills, and finding success in life.
I am Khanlar, a red balloon among grey balloons - I know I'm different. The main question is how do I live with this difference? What activities do I get involved in? I have physical limitations and I live in environment where constant struggle, perseverance and will are a must.
The feeling of self-motivation has always moved me forward. The general public in Azerbaijan sometimes views the disabled people as a problem. It’s a stereotype that has to be overcome on a public and a structural level. After I graduated from school, I could not get admission to a university of my choice due to health reasons. However, despite these everyday issues, the will and determination within me would always give me the chance to pursue my dreams - starting at the Vocational Rehabilitation Centre for young people with disabilities. I was in a community where hundreds, even thousands, of physically disabled people came together to study and work.
In addition to improving my skills and technical knowledge in computer science, my subject of choice, I began to take part in social activities, volunteering, and working on international projects. That is how I was able build confidence, to earn myself a place in my community and my city.
In 2018, I found out about an online training project curated by the British Council, and designed to improve employability opportunities for the disabled people in Azerbaijan. During the project, I completed skills training in IT, social sciences and other fields of study. One year later, I have a job, and I am earning money.
Three months ago, while searching the Internet, I found an internship announcement from the British Council. I realised that this may be the biggest step forward for my career - working for a global organisation with a reputation for excellence. The best thing to have at work is to have a team that respects and appreciates your input. I do not even notice my physical limitations anymore. During my time here, I was able to share some amazing news with my colleagues: I got admitted into a university! This success is not only my own, but that of everyone who supports and works with me.
Perceptions about disability are changing. We no longer get self-conscious about our disabilities, we no longer feel shame. My friends and family are proud of me.