Al-Aman Association Holds Third Annual ‘Festival of the Blind’

National Yemen

Sana’a Mayor Abdul Qader Hilal, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Amtalrazzaq Ali Homad and others pose with blind girls performing in the festival. photo by Asma Al-Mohattwari

Asma Al-Mohattwari

The Al-Aman Association for the Care and Rehabilitation of the Blind organized the third annual ‘Festival of the Blind’ in Sana’a last week. Participating in the conference were three other Arab nations: Lebanon, Kuwait, and Qatar.

At the opening ceremony, Dr. Amtalrazzaq Ali Homad, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, affirmed the association’s great leadership and congratulated them on their role and success as a humanitarian group organizing for marginalized segment of society. Homad singled out Fatma Al-Aqel, founder and leader of the association for her mature vision, the transparency of her organization, its quality and dedication to equality as it helps create more compassionate and considerate world for the blind.

Homad said that about 46 thousand disabled cases the association has monitored over the past three years were due to traffic accidents. She went on to discuss the programs and activities funded by the Care and Rehabilitation Fund for the Disabled and its role in the provision of services for the handicapped in Yemen.

Homad said that despite the group’s modest operating budget, they were able to provide services for approximately 180,000 disabled people in 2011, in addition to funding a study that will evaluate the performance of the fund. The study will recommend ways for the organization to develop their executive and administrative work and to elevate the performance of the fund. They also are pushing for legal amendments that would improve the level of service provided to disabled people in Yemen.

Sana’a Mayor Abdul Qader Hilal affirmed his support for the disabled and praised those contributing and working to integrate marginalized disabled groups into the community. He confirmed the importance of care and concern for others, calling it a duty at all levels of society.

“It is a religious duty, required by the Islamic faith,” Hilal said.

The portrayal of disabilities as an obstacle to excellence and creativity is wrong and society must work to change that perception, Hilal said. There are many people with disabilities at the local, regional and international level at the forefront of their fields, he added.

Chairman of the Al-Aman Association for the Care and Rehabilitation of the Blind Sabah Horish articulated the importance of the festival, which seeks to highlight the segment of the disabled community facing blindness along with a second disability. Those facing multiple disabilities have especially been neglected by their communities, he said.

Horish said that the association focused their programs and plans on developing the capabilities of those with multiple disabilities so that they could overcome the obstacles ahead of them to contribute to their communities.

He called on everyone to identify obstacles facing the blind and others in their communities and to work on ways to overcome those obstacles.

Total E& P Yemen company representative Bashir Al-Shuaibi said his company was proud to support Al-Aman, which plays such a great role in rehabilitating those with psychological, vocational and social disabilities, building a more compassionate and productive society.

The festival included creative, artistic performances by disabled young girls. The performance highlighted obstacles faced by the blind and lovingly encouraged their communities to movilize support for them so that they could become well-integrated into their societies.

Mayor Hilal donated YR 10 million to the association; Total donated YR 6 million and MTN donated YR 5 million.