Tens of thousands of Arab youths volunteering to read for blind people

RAMALLAH, Palestine:  After the end of her daily eight hours of work, Duha Mouadi makes her way through the streets of Ramallah as quick as possible to her home to start her voluntary work of recording books for blind people.

“I love the feeling of being the eyes of others. Through this volunteering, I feel that I give thanks to God, who has given me eyesight, a big blessing,” Doha told Anadolu Agency.

Mouadi, who has been a volunteer at the “Rain Initiative” since 2014, records around 200 pages from several books monthly.

“It’s a very valuable moment when the initiative receives the news of the people who listen to our voices, when we realize that our eyes and voices are lighting their lives,” Mouadi said.

The initiative was launched in 2013 in Jordan and expanded to 15 Arab countries. More than 30,000 volunteers joined in the work and more than 700 blind people were supported by the initiative to finish their studies, getting Bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Nour Ajlouni was 19 years old when she was with her friends, sharing their passion for reading. But one of them was a blind girl.

“We shared the pages of the novel and recorded it for our friend Batool. After she heard them, she told us about her suffering with academic books,” Ajlouni told Anadolu Agency.

She and her friends understand that there is a gap between blind people and the academic curriculum because it is not available for them in the Braille language.

As a result, Ajlouni established a group on Facebook, explained the idea of the initiative and asked for volunteers from several areas of the Arab world.

By the posts, she used to distribute the roles between the volunteers, who used the voice recorder on their mobile phones to record many types of books, but most of them were academic books.

“We work to support them, either by recording books, printing them to be available for Braille reading applications or by accompanying blind people during their courses and exams at the university,” said Ajlouni, who founded the Rain Initiative.

Feeling satisfied and proud, she is still leading the initiative with her team to make a difference in the world, as she says.

According to statistics from the Rain Initiative, in 2021, some 201,025 pages were recorded and 204,899 pages were printed thanks to the 2,055 volunteers across the Arab world.

With tears, Ajlouni still remembers when her phone rang five years ago. The caller was a young Jordanian man named Hamza.

“He gave me warm thanks and told me that he was on his way to join a university. He was saying that because the Rain Initiative is here, I can continue my studies,” Nour recalled, and proudly named many of the people who were supported by the initiative until they successfully graduated from university.

“Today, after all this time, we are celebrating Hamza’s graduation,” she added.

Recently, the initiative received a financial reward from the European Union and opened a Rain cafe in Jordan with its royalties being used for developing the initiative.


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