The tale of Eliana, a Lebanese woman whose employer provided exemplary support when she was diagnosed with MS, is one of many stories being told as part of this year’s World MS Day campaign.
The campaign’s theme is access, and at its heart is a celebration of the people and organisations who have helped break down the barriers to living with MS.
For many years Eliana worked in the Mimosa paper factory in Zahle to support her family. She says: “Even though my work was exhausting, I was happy. But my happiness did not last long. I began to have episodes of fainting and loss of balance, even during the course of work. On the one hand I was afraid for my health, and on the other hand of losing my job.
“The shift work became more intense, and my fears greater, but the people in charge at the factory were very caring and this eased my suffering. They accompanied me to the hospital several times, and after a short time I was told I had multiple sclerosis. “
Then, one day, Eliana was summoned to see the HR officer. As she stepped into the office Eliana thought she would be asked to resign. But the news was quite different. Her employers announced they would be transferring her from the factory to a less physically demanding office-based job, on the same salary.
That wasn’t all. Her employers also put her in contact with the Society of Lebanese Friends of Patients with Multiple Sclerosis (ALSEP).
The Mimosa Paper Company continues to support Eliana, helping her to stay in work, but also letting her know that they understand and want to help. She says, “A new phase in my life has opened up. The negatives have not all gone, but now I know I don’t have to face them alone”.
Mimosa has been recognised by ALSEP for setting an example of how employers can make reasonable adjustments to help people with MS stay in work.
Eliana’s is just one story of how people and organisations have broken down the barriers to living with MS. World MS Day campaign will highlight these stories and encourage people to celebrate them online, using the hashtag #strongerthanms.