Is It Possible To Live Like Others? [Archives:1998/28/Reportage]

July 13 1998

Being a physically handicapped person should never be a cause for shame or should cast any social stigma on the handicapped person. Although being mentally handicapped is actually a great loss, such a person is given another faculty to compensate for this deficit. Disabled people are a very important part of society and should be well looked after. This article aims to shed some light on their life conditions, problems and aspirations. We will start with Sanaa.
a) Sanaa
The Center for the Intellectual Development & Rehabilitating the Handicapped in Sanaa, aims to provide the disabled (blind, dumb and mentally retarded) with qualifications to help re-integrate them into society. Established in 1989, this center is divided into two departments: educational & vocational.
1) Vocational Department
This department has 101 students; 79 males and 22 females. They joined this department after completing their studies in the educational department. Here they acquire diverse vocational skills, which enable them to mix with society and earn their living themselves.
Around 11 trades such as sewing, carpentry, typing, computer programming, smithery, bookbinding, etc, are taught at this department. It has recently witnessed some expansion when new sections were established to meet the needs of society. Raw materials are now more easily supplied. The mentally retarded students within this department are a little bit old but their education is conducted by following simple methods.
2) Educational Department
This department has 229 students, 156 of which are males and 73 females. It prepares the students to join the vocational department, and follows the syllabus of the state schools. But it is taught in a different way using sign language, depending on the individual teacher’s mastery of this language.
There are 187 students in the section for the deaf and dumb studying in 10 separate classrooms. Their teachers are female graduates of the Psychology Department, Sanaa University and male graduates of the Scholastic Institutes.
The mental retardation section within the Educational Department has four classrooms for 42 students. There is no specific syllabus for this section. It depends on the competence of individual teachers to create an interaction between them and their students.
3) Department for the Blind
The section for the blind in this center is small and lacks teachers. It follows the curriculum of the Ministry of Education and Louis Braille methods in teaching and learning. This section has nearly 20 female students.
Sanaa Governorate
There is another center in Greater Sanaa named Al-Nour Center for the Handicapped, which was established in 1967. It contains two sections, educational and vocational. The educational section follows the curriculum of the Ministry of Education. The vocational section teaches the students various skills in some professions.
Al-Nour Center like those in Aden and Hadhramaut is funded by the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs, which provides food, beds, and blankets. Some businessmen and organizations provide them with schooling equipment. The number of the students enrolled in this center is 109 male students.
With a budget of YR 703,860 per a month, this center is short of some very essential teaching aid and facilities.
b) Aden
1) Al-Nour Center of the Handicapped
Although established in 1952, the number of students registered in this center is very low because its dilapidated building makes it unable to cope with a large number of students. There are only 30 students, most of whom do not live in the center itself.
The older blind students practice some handicrafts like making various vessels made of weaved straw or reeds. But the center teaches its students other handicrafts such as renovation and construction work, typing, etc. .
2) Deaf & Dumb Center
This center, established in 1990, provides training in around 8 occupations and some classes for teaching illiterate people. It has nearly 90 male and female students and a budget of YR 214,000 a month.
c) Hadhramaut
This governorate has a center for the handicapped named Al-Nour, which contains two sections: vocational and educational. The students study and practice some handicrafts and sculpture.
The money allocated for this center is YR 98,300 per month.
d) Hodeida
It has two centers; one for the deaf and dumb with only an educational section. The second center is for the mentally retarded. The budget of these centers is YR 401,200 per month. The two centers are supported by the Local Assembly.
e) Taiz
In Taiz there is also a center for the handicapped established by the Ministry of Insurance. It is mainly funded by the Hayel Saeed Group of Companies with a monthly budget of YR 256,000.
There are some other societies undertaking the education and training of the handicapped like Al-Eman Center and the Dumb & Deaf Society in Sanaa, etc.
Financial Support of the Centers
The handicapped centers are funded by the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs. But money allocations differ from one governorate to another according to the number of the centers and the actual number of handicapped people. The budget of the ministry was YR 45 million in 1997, but this year it has dropped to YR 40 million distributed among 18 branches.
Future Projects of the Ministry
The ministry has made plans in 1998 that are scheduled to be completed in 1999 concerning the construction of a few centers for the handicapped in Hadhramaut, Al-Jawf, Abyan, and Aden. The plans also include establishing a hall in Al-Halali Institute in Sanaa, finishing the Social Care and Handicapped House, providing support of the Center for the Blind in Hadhramaut, finishing the Community Rehabilitation of Handicapped Children project in cooperation with the Swedish organization Rada Barnnen, and completing the Social Service Institute.
The Ministry of Insurance Policy towards the Handicapped
The Ministry aims at:
1) including the national organizations in rehabilitating the handicapped;
2) enhancing coordination between the relevant bodies concerned with the handicapped;
3) activating the Supreme National Committee for the Care of the Handicapped;
4) raising the possibilities of Arab and international cooperation in this field; and
5) establishing an information center to serve the people concerned with the handicapped.
Obstacles Faced by the Handicapped Centers
There are a lot of obstacles facing the centers of the handicapped such as the lack of financial support, the nonexistence of psychological specialists and social workers active in this field, and the lack of teaching and learning aids. Another point is that the administrative staff is generally not qualified enough.
By Sana Qannan