West Bank man overcomes blindness to build homes

Published: Updated:
A man from the West Bank town of Jericho has battled blindness to construct his own home and begin work on the house next door.

Jameel Abu Abeed developed glaucoma in 2005, an eye disease where there is increased fluid pressure in the eye, which results in damage of the optic nerve.

Often the condition can be treated, but loss of vision happens gradually, and if left untreated it can lead to loss of sight.

For Abu Saeed, it was too late and he was diagnosed as permanently blind.

“I had glaucoma, I was by sent by the medical services to a medical center,” he said.

Abu Abeed moves around with a walking stick and his eyelids have closed over, but he manages to construct homes and garden fences using heavy workmen's tools.

He operates entirely by feel, mapping out where to hammer fences and bind iron using just his sense of touch.

“Then I started to work in construction. I started to work in my house; I built it with the help of my brothers. Now I am working on a small house next to my house,” said Abu Abeed.

The father of six, who has two wives, said he has struggled with sharp devices, but has found the labor rewarding. He works alongside a team of builders who also help him carry out some of the work.

Abu Abeed is a 64-year-old former police officer; he has challenged his disability to find a new skill that would set him a different career path.

He believes that developing new skills was important in helping him move forward in a society where blind and disabled people are largely stigmatized.