Diao Baldé Guèye
Of sweat and of Heart

So many battles this Giant has had to fight, so many obstacles she has had to overcome, to pull herself and pull others above, beyond disability!

Fighting, triumphing over harsh realities... Diao has known what it means since she was very young. Affected by polio at birth, she had to undergo numerous operations during the first seven years of her life. Far from discouraging her, these years of pain have allowed her to forge a steely mind. "I wanted to succeed, there was no other alternative," she said.
Diao is the President of the women's section of the Association des Handicapés Moteurs de Saint-Louis and the General Secretary of the Gender and Equity Unit at Gaston Berger University (administrative staff).
For a person living with a disability, the first battle to be fought is often that of access to education. This is one of the battles of her association.
"When you fight against begging, marginalization or exclusion, you have to be educated," she added. "We do everything we can to get children with disabilities enrolled in school"… "We take care of the civil registry. We educate parents. We advocate with teachers and schools for their inclusion. We try to find inclusive schools so that children are with pupils their age. And when the children need specialized schooling, which unfortunately does not exist in areas like ours, we manage... If we don't act, those children will stay at home. »
Diao Baldé Guèye started school at the age of nine. Her brother said that the school lodged his sister and himself for years in a small room because the bus wouldn't carry her with her wheelchair. She attended regular schooling up to Gaston Berger University in Saint-Louis. Due to poor accessibility, she stopped after two years and went to pursue
an accountant in Dakar. When she returned to Saint-Louis to her mother, she remained ten years without a salaried job.
No paid job but not idle, of course. During that period, she started associative activities and became engaged in associations for people with reduced mobility but also for women and young sportsmen whom she trained in management techniques.
She also supported the hospital's outreach missions on a voluntary basis in Fouta where marginalization and complexity linked to disability were more perceptible: "It was a question of showing people that it is possible to be disabled and succeed in life. Even if this was not a paid job, I told myself that I had succeeded because I was educated. I played an important role in my family. It's a personal achievement. »
It is only in 2007, after many years of resourcefulness and good results in odd jobs (saleswoman, hairdresser at home, etc.), that she was hired at the University Gaston Berger as a contract switchboard operator, through her neighbor, at that time the rector of the university.
This job, which she accepted “to show that does not prevent her from working and being competitive", and it provided her an opportunity for her to resume her studies in Management. It is only once she had passed her professional management license that she was recruited as an accountant, in 2012.
Her head of department testifies: "She never asked for help and never accepted help when I offered for certain difficult tasks. She protested and always answered that she can manage".
She has been inspiring and supporting women with disabilities since 1990 in the associative movements, "Self-consciousness delays you!” she often tells them... She inspires faith in themselves, self-esteem and courage.
With this Invisible Giant distinction, she said, she will have to do much better, always better, and she promised to continue to be the servant of all those people who trust and support her.

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