A Society for the Handicapped, also called: The Challenge Society [Archives:1999/38/Health]

September 20 1999

Ahlam Al-Khawlani
Yemen Times
It was established on October 14th, 1999. A lot of facilities were granted for it by the government, which also supported it financially. In fact, it depends heavily for its support on the non-governmental organizations, embassies, companies and the well-doers. Though the society has not completed a year since its start, people have responded to it in a remarkably fine way.
The Challenge Society does its best to help the handicapped women by providing them with all possible services. Sometimes the woman’s handicapping can by treated, but due to the carelessness of the family or the lack of financial support, the situation might worsen. To avoid such a situation, the society puts health care at the top of its priorities. Education is also a priority. About 95% of the handicapped women are deprived of the right of education. This high rate of illiteracy among the handicapped women is a result of the financial condition of the family or the negligence of the family, which sometimes looks at the handicapped woman as a useless and helpless creature. Another priority which is as important as the previous ones is improving the handicapped financial condition. It is very hard to be a woman, handicapped and poor. These three dimensions are studied carefully by the society in order to reach a solution that will enable this category to help themselves and their families.
When asked about the reason for the Society’s separation from the Handicapped Society, Gamalah Al-Baidhani, Head of the Challenge Society, said, ” We used to work for the Handicapped Society where the woman wasn’t paid the proper attention. Day after day, the situation of the handicapped woman moved in wide steps from bad to worse. The handicapped woman was looked at as nothing more than an ignorant sewer. She has been ignored and marginalized, in spite of all of her great efforts in the social field. It was her disappointment with her condition in the Handicapped Society that led to the establishment of this separate society. In our new Society the handicapped woman enjoys her rights and she is the decision maker.”
“The Society consists of the Administration Office, two sewing rooms, a room for nursery training, a room for housecraft training and a kitchen. It has seven members as well as seven employees. Of course, all of them are female and most of them are handicapped. Besides, there is a number of teachers and designers like the dress designer Nadheera Abdu Al-Galeel. Nadheerah is not handicapped and she is loved by all the handicapped who regard her as a mother. The number of the handicapped female studying in the Society is 85 between 6-30 years old, and it has the capacity to accept every handicapped female. In fact, all of us here form a family. We do never use terms like members or administration board, we do rather feel that we are all mothers, sisters and daughters. “”In cooperation with the International Society for Women, we have participated in seven exhibitions and one bazaar”, said Al-Baidhani, ” All the products of the Society were sold. We have met with a number of Yemeni ministers and discussed with them the issue of the handicapped, in order to include it in their programs.”The society serves all handicapped women, as well as the deaf and the dumb. ” We are planning to open a classroom to teach the sign letters to the deaf and the dumb. As far as the tuition is concerned, we ask for only YR 100 and two photos. After this the enrolled woman is given a card of membership which makes her entitled to join any training section in the society according to her interest and to what suits her. Moreover, two classrooms for eliminating illiteracy and teaching the young handicapped girls will be opened in the beginning of upcoming November. Regarding this point, I would like to thank the Minister of Education for his highly appreciated cooperation with us. After we discussed the problems of all the handicapped people in Yemen , The Minister positively responded to them and issued three decrees concerning this issue. The three decrees were the exemption of all the handicapped from tuition, mandatory acceptance of handicapped in schools and introducing some amendments in the schools’ corridors, bathrooms and classrooms,” said Gamala Al-Baidhani.