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Turning Disability to Ability: Opening Eyes to a World of Art

Photography: Sami Haven

Imagine not really knowing the color of the tranquil cerulean blue of the ocean, or the vibrant crimson of a pomegranate. Imagine, then, that your visual impairment could have been prevented if at a young age you could have had access to treatment.

The Seeing is Believing initiative is a collaboration between Standard Chartered Bank and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. By matching donations collected through their site Seeing is Believing, the initiative seeks to eradicate unnecessary blindness from a young age by raising funds to pay for treatments for families that might not otherwise be able to afford it, causing their child’s sight to be permanently damaged or lost.

Under the umbrella of that initiative, Jordanian Suheil Baqaeen created a project for visually impaired and blind children, ranging from ages 8 to 16, from the Royal Academy for the Blind. The workshop had the children working with various mediums and textures — from acrylics to oil paints and pastels — to create emotive pieces of art. The project aimed to include the children in an activity they might previously have felt left out of due to their impairment, and served as an inspiring and therapeutic hobby. “Before we began, I had the students smell the colors. I wanted them to imagine how to draw before they began, and visualize with all their senses how to create. I always say that eyes are useless when the mind is blind,'” adds Suheil.

The final pieces were displayed at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts. Standard Chartered CEO Ahmad Abu Eideh commented, saying: “We are very proud that the final pieces created by the children were exhibited at the Jordan Gallery of Fine Arts. We hope to continue supporting the Academy for many years to come.” 

And that’s #peoplehelpingpeople.

For more information:  Suheil Baqaeen, Seeing is Believing Initiative, Photographer Sami Haven

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