“Let Your Disability Be Your Strength”
Each Step of “The Cedar Walk” Made a Difference
5,000 Cedar Seedlings Planted for Michael Haddad’s 5,000 Steps
Beirut – November 2012 - “Let Your Disability Be Your Strength” is the motto of Michael Haddad’s walk in the Cedars forest. In an initiative called “The Cedar Walk”, Mr. Haddad, who is disabled from the chest down due to a spinal cord injury, conducted his first walk despite his physical disability which makes his steps hard and almost impossible. He fought, held out and walked 5,000 steps to plant for 5,000 Lebanese Cedar trees.
For the same purpose, Michael had established the SHIELD non-governmental organization which cooperated, for the organization of this walk, with the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI), a program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the United States Forest Service (USFS), offering technical assistance and institutional support for sustainable reforestation and wildfire prevention.
Michael and the LRI closely collaborated with Bcharreh Municipality and the Friends of the Cedar Forest to organize “The Cedar Walk” in Bcharreh, where Haddad walked ahead of a strikingly enthusiastic crowd of participants, showing them how a disabled person can be a productive and active citizen in his society.
Michael Haddad didn’t allow his physical disability to keep him from claiming his rights, proving himself, and protecting his environment. And the question remains, “What can people who enjoy their full capabilities do for their environment?”