Interpal’s trustees have pledged to support The United National Relief and Works Agency with
$500,000 after hearing of a pilot project featuring eight year old Muhammad
in Gaza, who was blinded when an Israeli shell hit his home, and then orphaned
when a shell hit a mosque in which his father was praying in 2014.
The project came about when
Christopher Gunness, UNRWA Director of Advocacy and Strategic Communications,
tweeted Mohammad’s story with someone immediately tweeting in response that the
technology that could give Mohammad back his future was called “Voice Dream
Reader”. This technology allows anything digitally imported onto a mobile
device to be read to the blind and visually impaired; and has been described as
the “next generation of braille”. Inventor and CEO of Voice Dream Reader,
Winston Chen, then generously offered to make this technology available to
Mohammad, as well as all children suffering with visual impairments in Gaza.
The Vision Project is the
perfect example of using technology to benefit the marginalised and make a
difference to the lives of children. It will supplement braille and other
teaching techniques used for children with visual impairments and enrich
teaching and learning. Up to 30 teachers will be trained to teach 217 blind and visually impaired
children how to use the technology and how to allow them to study the same
curriculum as their sighted peers. After implementation in Gaza, the project
will be rolled out to other regions benefitting more visually impaired children
and improving the special needs education available to them. The improvement in
the lives of these children is immeasurable.
Each child will receive a
mobile device at school and have all the books available to them, just as their
sighted peers have. This not only opens up vast sources of information,
learning and creativity but also supplements their basic education, and
provides them with tools that will prepare them for adulthood, including
employment and full integration into society. The project will remove their
disability being a barrier to their education, to their aspirations and allow
them to dream bigger whilst also benefitting their families and the community
in the long term.
Beyond the Vision Project,
Interpal has also provided $55,000 to support the installation of solar panels
at UNRWA’s ‘Rehabilitation Centre for the Visually Impaired’ (RCVI). The RCVI
is the first of its kind in Gaza, serving over 1.250 children and the solar
panels will help ensure that the frequent blackouts don’t negatively impact the
important work being carried out.