Despite facing life-changing disability and social stigma, John and Mario are thriving and sharing their creative talents with the world. The two men recently appeared on SAT-7 ARABIC, encouraging viewers by sharing their stories of overcoming great adversity to live full lives.

“I remember my father telling me once that precious jewels are found deep in the ground. People also have jewels buried deep inside them. Every person needs to find their jewel and show it to the world.”

At just seven months old, John contracted polio after receiving an expired vaccination. He was left paralysed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair.

John Boshra, who shared these moving words on the counselling program Speak Up, faced many barriers to finding his own “jewel”.


Growing up, John struggled with his lack of independence.

“I wasn’t upset that I couldn’t walk, because I had never experienced that feeling,” he said. “But I was upset because I couldn’t rely on myself… I couldn’t support my father as he was growing old.”

When a church play sparked an interest in acting, John initially worried about what people would think. Negative attitudes towards people with disabilities remain common in the Middle East and North Africa.


But once again, God used John’s family to encourage him. With the support of his father, and later of his wife Hala, John began acting in church plays, going on to write and direct his own.

“I realised that directing plays was the jewel inside me that I needed to find and show to others,” he said. John’s success as a scriptwriter has grown, and he now writes for secular productions.

“I want to prove myself. I want to prove that a person with a disability can be useful and of value,” John said.


Appearing on Speak Up has shown John just how many people care about him. Afterwards, he said:

“It felt great to share my story, and a lot of people were moved by it. They called me to say that I did well, but truly I didn’t do anything unusual. I’m just a normal person with an experience to share.”


Mario Gameel, who shared his story on the women’s program Needle and New Thread, also beat the odds to find his “jewel”. Despite losing his right hand after successful treatment for cancer, he has become a professional drummer.

When Mario’s hand was amputated, he did not lose hope. He credits his drumming dreams with getting him through this very difficult time – but he knew he would face opposition.

When Mario’s hand was amputated, he did not lose hope. He credits his drumming dreams with getting him through this very difficult time – but he knew he would face opposition.

But the aspiring musician chose to think positively.

“It’s all about making a decision,” he said. “If you decide to learn something, you will be able to do it despite any circumstances or difficulties. I weighed my options and chose to live life to the full.”

Mario had no drums to practise on, so he improvised – his first drum set was made from kitchen pans. Encouraged by his family and friends, he sought out lessons from successful drummers. Now, Mario plays with a professional band and his former tutors are his friends.

Although he has continued to face opposition, Mario’s commitment is unwavering.

“When I heard negative comments, I persisted in learning and becoming better,” he said.

In the Middle East and North Africa, people with disabilities often face social stigma and discrimination. SAT-7 aims to help change these negative attitudes – by giving people with disabilities the chance to tell their own stories. Help us

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