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GAMBIA DELEGATES – DRINKING FROM THE WELL

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As part of our outreach projects, Madrassa An- Noor for the Blind routinely conducts Qur'an Braille Workshops in many countries worldwide using a 'Teach the Teachers' initiative. This has resulted in the establishment of many Madrassa'sglobally, Alhamdulillah.

However, the facilitation of these workshops has proved to be costly. The transportation of heavy and bulky Braille books and equipment posed a logistical challenge. A single Qur'an set in Braille weighs around 10kg. A frequent challenge encountered by Blind persons attending the workshops is the inadequate transport infrastructures in many countries. The language barrier also posed a challenge, as our Madrassa syllabi textbooks are not offered in the native languages.

These challenges prompted us to plan a change in strategy. We discovered that it will be much more practical and affordable for interested Organisations to send in their key personnel to Madrassa An Noor for the Blind, to learn our system of operation in a direct and hands-on manner. The training includes access to our classrooms, library, Braille press, audio production labs and multi-media access. The 40 day training programme enables participants to transcribe certain key Islamic books, speech and multimedia into their native languages.Thus, our Pilot Project was born. The thirsty came to quench their thirst directly at the well. We pray that direct pipelines will flow throughout the world. (Bi Idhnil Allah)

Direct interaction with our production staff, teachers and students has proved to be greatly advantageous for the delegates. This collaboration has also enabled our teachers and students to learn new skills and expertise from our guests, resulting in a mutually beneficial experience for all.

Our project involves inviting teacher and key members of administrative staff from various International Blind Institutes to our Madrassa. This has proved to be a success, Alhamdulilah with a few countries presently waiting in the queue for their turn to attend.

Below is a report of our first team from the Gambia, a little country on the west coast of Africa. Their delegates are Ustad Imam MalickJallow, a sighted Quran Teacher and BrotherGairaLamin, a blind teacher from the Govi School for the Blind in Banjul, Gambia.

Life Skills

Our Gambian brothers facilitated a Life- Skills Programme for Madrassa An-Noor for the Blind students. Life Skills, Orientation and Mobility are essential everyday skills needed by every Blind person in the world, enabling them to be independent and productive. Skills encompassed in this framework are cleaning, washing, ironing, toilet etiquette and meal preparation.

Students were divided into smaller groups so that each student could receive individual attention. Brother Nganga and Aslam Chilole assisted Brother Gaira and learned from his expertise. The students were impressed by the confidence of our guests and were motivated and inspired tolive a productive life independently.

Braille and Audio Books

There is a scarcityof Islamic literature for the blind in Gambia and to this end Madrassa An-Noor for the Blind has undertaken production of Braille and Audio books for the Muslim community of Gambia.

Our delegates spent many hours late into the night translating the first educational textbook ''TasheelulAqaaid'', Level 5 into the Mandinka and Wolof languages which are indigenous to Gambia. The books were then transcribed into Braille and recorded in the Madrassa's studio. Copies of these books were made available and sent to Gambia for immediate use. The audio books were uploaded onto Madrassa's website (www.mnblind.org) for free download. 

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A Specialist Islamic Institute for the Visually Impaired

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