Asheq! [Archives:2005/857/Culture]

July 7 2005

By Fahmia Al-Fotih
Asheq means in Arabic “Lover” and that doesn't mean that our whispers today are about love and lovers. However, the one who is whispering today has the title of “Asheq AL-Nnor” that means “The one who loves the light”.

Actually, he is a gentleman, smart, ambitious and loveable and has a good sense of humor but he cannot see and you can hardly notice that he is blind as he walks with confidence with his head up. Asheq is now studying English language in an institute and he has successfully passed from one level to another. Everyone is amazed at his confidence and insistence in achieving his goals and everybody wonders at the courage and inner-power that make him pursue his studies in an institute where he is the only one who cannot see.

Anyone who knows Asheq cannot do anything but admire and love him. Sometimes we realize that we are the real blind ones and not him.

Once he told me his story that could be called the beginning of his tragedy when his mother took him to a quack as he had a weakness in one of his eyes. But that quack made it worse and his sight became weaker. However, Asheq entered the school and studied till the third grade when his parents took him to a hospital in Taiz and the surgeon committed a big mistake that led him to lose his sight completely. Suddenly the world turned into entire darkness. He had seen the light and the things, therefore it was hard for him to adapt to his new dark world.

In the last time I sat with him, he told me about his dreams and more about the challenges that special needs people face and the services that they need. He, as all the handicapped people, has been suffering a lot of ill-treatment in the different institutions. Asheq remembered sorrowfully that he was chosen to travel abroad and when he had finished all the traveling procedures, due to favoritism, they told him in the last minute that another one replaced him. Another thing was that hehas been waiting for more than 8 months for an electronic dictionary and just last week he told me that he got it ultimately.

Asheq has a dream. He did not want to go back to the village where he can find nobody to understand or support him. He has a small project and dreams to open a telecommunication center. He went to the Handicapped Fund but found no small projects department and now he is looking for an organization to support him.

Asheq does not blame the Fund as he believes that the Fund is doing well but it needs support and provide it with qualified and specialists' cadre that can deal with and understand the people with special needs.

The people with the special needs perhaps lose one of their senses but this does not affect them negatively or weaken their enthusiasm. You can find them more talented and more creative. All of us know there are remarkable and well-known people that were handicapped, for instance the famous writer Helen Clare was deaf and blind but her publications conquered the world and gave a brilliant example for the handicapped people.

In this regard, I cannot forget the 7th festival for deaf and dumb people in which I really was amazed at what I had seen there. In the big hall of the festival I saw a large number of people but they were not talking, they were just exchanging gestures and signs. The view strongly made me tremble and I felt that I was strange among them and I could not understand anything. At the same time I was very happy that those people could communicate and they were not isolated, yet, they were participating and proved that there was no difference between the handicapped people and the normal ones, and sometimes even better.

Without a word, just signs, the group of deaf and dumb wonderfully performed a number of plays through which they displayed their problems that they face in getting jobs and the maltreatment they receive in the governmental establishments. The group also delivered various messages about a number of issues such as revenge and the bad phenomena in the Yemeni society and how to heal them. The audience could not do anything but applaude strongly.

Asheq hopes that the Fund's services should be expanded to other governorates and to the very deprived special needs people in rural areas all over Yemen. Moreover, he complains about the lack of awareness among the society members about disabled people issues and needs and how to deal appropriately with them.

I also hope that more efforts should be exerted to this sector and provide it with equal opportunities to integrate them with the society and let them effectively take part in building Yemen and its prosperity.