Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Video from Amman Jordan hopes to educate the Arab world about rights of disabled people

From Counter Currents:

Helping challenged individuals to lead normal lives is the aim of the video clip recently launched Amman Jordan, Wednesday, 22 December, 2010. Under the patronage of HRH Prince Raad, the five-minute video clip shows slick cinematography and song to inspire and cope, lead and to show, to prove and exist.

Dr Amal Al Nahass, Secretary-General of the Higher Council of Persons with Disabilities (HCPPD) deputized for the Prince who has long campaigned to upgrade the quality of life of the handicapped.

The “Koli Amaal” video clip loosely translated from Arabic “I am all hope” is about a growing physically-challenged teen boy, in his different daily life situations. The background song was especially developed by Saudi singer Amer Alomair who composed the track especially to underline the handicap case in the Arab world.

Dr Nahass, accompanied by Dr Ahmad Al Lowzi, HCPD board member and President of the Society of the Blind for Western Asia said she was very pleased to be invited to the launch, an important step towards working for the handicapped and physically challenged, stressing the Higher Council is a crucial body that draws up policies to improve the lives of the handicapped and coordinates with outside bodies for these purposes.

The clip is produced by the Rahaf Charity in cooperation with Shada Satellite Channel and directed by Mohammad Hafeth Jaber with scenario from Marwan Zeinaldin. The five-minute clip was shown during the launch to a wide variety of media organizations of satellite television stations, community radio stations in Jordan and daily newspapers.

Ahmad Damous, presenter at Radio Al Balad was Master of Ceremonies. He states the handicapped are unknown soldiers, they exist but are not recognized by society which has to change to see that they can be productive members if they are given the chance.

"I hope this video clip will go a long way towards changing the perception of society towards the handicapped, Damous, whose radio station is involved in a great deal of raising local community issues," says.

The Department of Public Statistics in Jordan states that the percentage of the physically challenged in the population is estimated to be between 7% to 10% . Some statistics suggest that the number of handicapped in the country is around 600,000 people out of a population of six million. The world percentages stand at 10%, 600 million, and 9% to 10% in the Arab world.

The clip shows Mohammad's video photographed in different social situations: At his family home, in school, in the swimming pool and among and playing with his friends. One other handicapped boy appears in the video clip.

Director Jaber says that the making of the video clip was worthwhile, and its airing on the satellites should go a long way to making people across the Arab world, more aware of people with physical difficulties and that they are the same as any other, they have lives, they need to work and have aspirations.

Alomair, an up-and-coming Saudi talent, especially came from Saudi Arabia to help put together the clip. He was not at the launch but said he was very glad to take part in a worthwhile cause which will surely improve the plight of the handicapped.

In addition to local community radios like Farah Al Naas and Radio Al Balad, big satellite television stations Aljazeera Direct, MBC, the Saudi ABS Cultural Station, Normina, Watan TV and Shada TV which is part of the Al Majd Group of channels were all at the launch. A Representative from the Jordan Press Agency, Petra, was present for coverage as well as national newspapers like Addustour, Al Ghad and Al Arab Al Youm.

"We are very glad that the media came, as they are crucial in airing out the video and help towards changing how society views those with physical disabilities, says Rahaf director Kholoud Asmar.

“The video is based on a real story of a mother living with her 15-year-old physically-challenged, day and night, a handicap that has been with him since he was born,” she adds.

“There must be greater understanding on part of society for these segments who need to be properly cared for, rather than left in the home with many parents feeling ashamed, hiding them away as if they are a sort of an ailment, she points out.

Pepsi Jordan came for the launch, underlying the corporate social responsibility issue. The soft drinks company have backed Rahaf in previous activities that deal with children with disabilities and underprivileged backgrounds.

"We are glad to be at this video launch that underlines this very important sector of society, and is a reflection of our commitment to support such causes," says Mohammad Arabyat, Public Relations Director in Pepsi, Jordan. They have already decided to employ six persons with disabilities.

Mohammad's Arabic teacher in the Al Manhal School Mr Mohammad Al Duwaik also attended the launch, emphasizing his school's policy to support and facilitate the teaching of children with special physical difficulties.

Mr Al Duwaik was featured in the video clip writing on the board as part of daily school activities of children with disabilities who are included with other normal children.

People with disabilities also came to the video clip launch. Adnan Al Kafreini, who has athetoid cerebral palsy, and calls himself "Ambassador for the Handicapped." Adnan has worked hard to gain his BA degree in Social Studies from one of the local universities and works hard through an NGO to support his wife and baby daughter.

Bilal Samoor, a person with deformity in his hands is an IT expert. He says despite his IT BA degree from Jordan University, employers will not hire him because of his hands despite the fact that he uses the keyboard to type on the computer and surf the Internet. He previously had a job in IT, but says his employer sacked him once he got what he wanted from Bilal.

Nevertheless, his IT expertise maybe his passport to greater things for he seriously wants to go to places like Britain where he says there is a big market to help people like him with physical difficulties.

The lyrics of the video's song was subtitled into English by Ibtihal Asmar, the deputy-director of Rahaf. "Our organization and the video clip director felt it was important to produce English subtitling so it reaches maximum audiences as it is aired on the satellites," she says.

"With English subtitling even non-Arabic speakers can listen to what is being sung."

Despite the difficulties however there are encouraging signs that society is changing albeit slowly. Presently, Bassam Abdo is a blind person who has his own radio show at Farah Al Naas, Osama Al Sayed has a show on A One TV while Rami Zaloum has a show appropriately called "We are all the same" in Radio Al Balad.

These steps suggest the bright future in Jordan and maybe the Arab world is just around the corner, and challenged individuals will definitely a positive role in the development of their societies with the help of such organizations as Rahaf.