Awareness

Acrobat instructor brings people with disabilities to new heights

IG: @pitublazquez

IG: @pitublazquez

At Pitu Blazquez’s acrobatics school in Argentina, students are hanging from trapezes, walking on balance beams and cooling down with a stretch. But the school is a little different from what you might expect: it offers free classes for people with disabilities.

“These people are doing something incredible, which is extremely difficult, being five meters high and giving their soul and their art,” Blazquez told AJ+.

People who live with disabilities are a marginalized community in Argentina; most do not have medical insurance and only one in 10 are employed.

“Nothing is built with disabled people in mind. They don’t think [about it],” one of Blasquez’s students said.

Through offering people with disabilities classes free of charge, Blazquez hopes to give them a chance to engage in an activity they otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to. Instead of specifically setting aside sessions for people with disabilities, he integrates them with other students in class to help everyone understand the challenges these people face.

“It teaches my other students to work with people who can’t walk, people who can’t see, but can do a lot of things,” said Blasquez.


“What I see inside them is a fight, is a courage that is an example for everyone. It’s very rewarding.”

 

Former refugee boats give cruisers a tour of Amsterdam through the eyes of migrants

Photo Credits: UNHCR

Once upon a time, ‘Meneer Vrijdag’ and ‘Klein Boot’ were boats that were previously used to smuggle asylum seekers across the Mediterranean in search for a better life.

Now, the vessels are traversing much calmer waters: they’ve been taken in by Lampedusa Cruises, a tour company in Amsterdam that invites residents and tourists alike to take in the city’s history, much of which has been shaped by refugees and migrants.

The skippers, from countries including Eritrea, Libya and Syria, all have one thing in common – they themselves were refugees who came to Amsterdam on a boat not unlike the vessel they now sit at the helm of.

“Our guides tell you the hidden history of Amsterdam through the eyes of its immigrants and outsiders, including their personal migration story,” the company’s website reads.

The company takes its name from the island of Lampedusa, which is a symbol of Europe’s migrant crisis due to it being a popular destination for refugees sailing from Africa. What the cruises hope to do is to provide an alternative, less traditional insight into Amsterdam that isn’t necessarily what first comes to mind when one thinks about the city.

“The beauty of this project is that while Amsterdam is so shiny, we dive into some issues that aren’t so clean,” said Sahand, a tour guide. “Most tour companies talk about the Golden Age of the Netherlands and point out the old buildings. We talk about the immigrants who built them.”