Darkness Defeated [Archives:1998/06/Reportage]

February 9 1998

Sabah Ali Hurish, 20, a blind teacher at the Blind women’s Institute.
Q:  When did you lose your eyesight? A:  I have been blind for 4 years. First, it started as a headache and I went to many hospitals. Every doctor said I was in good condition, but gave me many tranquilizers to ease the pain.  No one could tell me why I was having headaches. It worsened and I lost consciousness, so my father took me to Al-Thawra Hospital. They did some tests and took x-rays. And concluded that I was in good condition. Later, doctors said I had a blood clot in my head. I had an operation, then my condition worsened. After this, doctors recommended that I should have a device installed in my head because I had water in it. During the 3 months, doctors prescribed medicine for me only to change it the same day. My father left no stone unturned, despite his lack of finances. I became disabled  because of the many injections I received. I also lost my eyesight as a result of wrong diagnosis. My father lost hope and took me out of the hospital. Somebody came to our house and treated me with the Quran and black cumin with honey. I was able to move after taking the black cumin and honey daily. I practiced walking with the help and support of my mother and father. We traveled to Saudia Arabia for treatment, where doctors gave me another wrong diagnosis. They said that it was only a fever, which could have been treated by medicine.
Q:  How did you feel about losing your eyesight? A: (She replies cheerfully) I saw a dark world. I not only lost my eyesight, but I also lost movement, which eased the shock for me. But, because of the support and encouragement of my parents, I was motivated to overcome my problem. I started training on the ground and could not raise my legs. I was grief stricken because it is very hard for a person to suddenly find themselves blind and disabled after being active and having sight all their life. I was totally desperate because I was a hardworking student in my third year, secondary- level, scientific section. After I lost my eyesight, I was afraid of any movement or voice and the dark world appeared strange and was hard to get used to. But now, it’s natural to me.
Q:  Did you lose anything when you became blind? A: If a person seeks the help of Allah, they will not lose anything. It is better not to see the lies and double dealings of this world. Believe me, I am better now than I was before. I was suffering from isolation, but now I am free from worry because I no longer see people’s faces but I can see what is in their hearts.
Q:  Will you return to your education? A: I was at the third year, secondary-level. After losing my eyesight, I did not see how it was possible to continue. I held some books, but I didn’t know what was written in them. I aimlessly spent two years in the house eating, drinking, sleeping and waiting for death. After that, I wanted to study and thanks to Allah, my aspirations were realized.
Q: What motivated your return to education and did you receive any help learning to read? A: Nobody had the time to teach me to read, but sometimes a friend of mine used to come and read to me. Some friends told me about a blind woman’s school. I was happy and contacted the institute’s director Ms. Fatima Al-Aqel. I explained everything to her and she encouraged me to continue my education. She taught me Braille through the telephone and gave me a desk. I turned to the literary section and I found some difficulties during school registration and in dealing with the girls. I was determined to study, in spite of objections raised by the school. They agreed and had a different opinion of me when they saw my will power and resolution. Anyway, I passed with a very good score (85%) in the literary section.
Q: How did you overcome your movement problem? A: I am used to walking freely around the house, but in school or in the streets, I accompany either my sister or a friend. I do many chores without difficulty. So, I have adapted myself to my new situation thanks to Allah, my parents and my friends.
Q: What were your ambitions before your blindness and what are they now? A: I had wanted to study medicine, but after this incident I aspire to help blind women. I am doing the required service and teaching at the Blind Women’s Institute.
Q: Who played a role in helping you overcome your problem? A: Allah, to whom be ascribed all perfection and majesty. Then my father and mother, who have supported, encouraged and treated me as they treated my brothers and sisters. I cannot forget Fatima Al-Aqel, who gave me hope and brought light to my dark world. She is a mother and teacher, whatever I do I could never repay her. She taught me to read the Quran by Braille and now I can read what is written in books. I’m now free of worry and I will never forget Ms. Fatima’s kind act of giving me some tapes of the third year, secondary course. I succeeded with distinction thanks to her.
Q: Will you give a word to blind women, families and society? A: To blind women: Don’t lose hope. If you lose one sense, remember that Allah has given you 4 others. If you lose your eyesight, you still have touch, hearing, smell and taste. You also have your brain. We should accept our blindness and show gratitude to Allah and live normal lives.
To families: Treat blind women as ordinary people to give them self confidence. They should be given the right to education in order to study and support themselves. Many families keep blind women at home or are ashamed when people see them. These families should know that the blind will not live forever, so they should let these women live their lives to the fullest.
To society: I urge people to treat the blind as ordinary people, having the right to education and life. We don’t want pity from people, but we need confidence to open our ways.