Gazan NGO helps deaf people find work


A non-profit organization in the Gaza strip is offering deaf children health care, social services, education and work opportunities in a bid to improve their lives and integrate them into society.

Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children, established in 1992, currently has 300 students attending classes from nursery up to high school.

Wala Ziyadeh, a teacher at the school, teaches deaf children to read and write. She says that such skills will allow them to integrate better into their social surrounding by earning a living and contributing to society instead of being considered as outcasts, especially in a country where it is considered increasingly harder to find a job.

"I am really happy because my friends and the students who grew up with me are here, and because I am at an organization that is supporting me to develop my skills as teacher for the deaf," she said.

The organization launched in January 2012 a four-year undertaking, termed Income Generation Program - in a bid to reach out to young deaf people seeking to improve their lives.

"The message of the organization is to transform the (idea of a) disability into a gift by helping its students be able to carry out different activities that teach them and integrate them in the society, and by preparing them to inter the job market and find employment,” said organizer Sharhabil al-Zaeim.

The main goals of the project are to encourage older students to undertake vocational training in the culinary arts and deaf women to be part of the Jordanian workforce, in addition to offering a range of employment opportunities for the youth.

Al-Zaeim said that a highlight of the project is to improve the general self-esteem and confidence of the deaf youth, and realize they can equally contribute to the economy by honing their skills and boosting confidence in their potentials despite their disability.

"I just find them amazing and this is why I wanted to come to Gaza Strip, because of the perseverance of people under pressure of all kinds of things and especially the handicapped," Dona Taillerwest a tourist from America.

About 60 deaf workers are employed in workshops hosted by the society, which produces wood crafts and hand-embroidered products.

The craft shop sells a range of handicrafts by all ages, from cushion covers to decorative ornaments. Tourists and visitors have been impressed with the project and support the creativity and output of these students.