New opportunity opens for the hearing-disabled in Gaza.
About 1 percent of Gaza’s 1.6 million people suffer from total or near-total deafness. Their education is limited to the 9th grade. They must contend with a popular notion that deafness equals mental disability.
The new Atfaluna restaurant near Gaza port provides income for a 12 deaf workers and aims to dish up a new image of normalcy together with delicious food. In the spirit of rising to a major physical challenge, see also our post about a wheelchair-bound man who rode 130 km. in a solar-powered wheelchair.
“Twenty years ago Palestinian attitudes toward deaf people were negative,” said Naeem Kabaja, director of Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children in Gaza, which runs the restaurant. “We’ve been able to change that and it has since improved. Through our work, the spread of sign language, activities by the deaf are raising public awareness about this disability.”
Deaf restaurant supervisor Ayat Imtair told Reuters in sign language, “Deaf people have determination. There are no worries except when it comes to communication, the language problem. At first we may get translators to help us with the speaking clients.”
But after a 6-month training period, the staff was confident.
“We’re excited. There might be some difficulty at the start but we will overcome it. We’re all trained in lip-reading and that will help us take orders,” signed cook Niveen as he cooked a batch of spicy chicken meatballs.
The restaurant’s organizers hope that communication between the deaf staff and customers will break down prejudices.
“This is a call on the community, and a working chance for the deaf to help them engage with the community,” Imtair signed.
The restaurant was established with help from the Drosos Foundation of Switzerland, to promote income generation for Gaza’s deaf population.
More on facilities that support the physically and mentally challenged on Green Prophet:
- Rom Farm Brings You Organic Goat Cheese, With Help From The Handicapped
- Kishorit, Organic Utopia For The Mentally Disabled
Photos via Reuters