OmanPride: Al Noor Association for the Blind founder on teaching Braille
August 8, 2017 | 7:57 PM
by Shruthi Nair
Mohammed Hamad Al Harthy teaches Braille at the Al Noor Association for the Blind.

I teach everyone how to use Braille. It is the language of visually challenged people,” said Mohammed Hamad Al Harthy, a founding member of the Al Noor Association for the Blind. Mohammed has been an extremely active part of the Al Noor Association and has selflessly helped a lot of blind or visually challenged people for the last two decades.

“I started teaching 20 years ago. Anyone who is blind, I help them. I have many students and I teach them Braille. They can read the Holy Quran and other Braille magazines,” he said, proudly noting that he doesn’t charge anything for teaching. Currently, he is teaching two women who teach in an Indian school so they can help their blind students learn Braille.

Born in 1960 in Uganda, Mohammed was an ambitious young boy leading a normal life until a defect in his eye was detected at the age of 10. His vision in that eye slowly started fading and things weren’t going well for him otherwise too with the passing away of his mother, until eventually he completely lost his eyesight making him dependant on just one eye. However, at the age of 17, he became completely blind, which restricted Mohammed’s physical capabilities considerably. His undying will to learn got him enrolled in a school in Bahrain after which he returned to Oman. “When I came here, I wished to finish my university, but didn’t get through. For two years, I tried finding a job.” Finally in 1990, Mohammed landed a job at the Ministry of Information where he worked for three years.

It was after he got a job with the Muscat Municipality that he, along with a few of his other blind friends, thought of setting up an association for the blind. “In 1997, I applied for the establishment of the Al Noor Association,” he said. Mohammed has been actively trying to get other blind people enrolled in the association as he understands their hardships and has devoted his life to making their lives more pleasant and convenient. Mohammed acts as the motivator and counsellor for those who join the association, especially the ones who’ve just turned blind and need a moral boost. He tries to bring the talent and skills of the fellow members to the fore and empower them in order to make them self sufficient. He teaches them how to use Braille-based computers/laptops, speaking watches, iPhones, and other gadgets. “Anyone who comes, I teach them for a few weeks, give them the certificate and they leave,” he said.

He is also the proud father of six children, who enjoys life to the fullest and makes sure that all those who meet him take something valuable back with them; be it Braille lessons, inspiration, ability to be independent and self-sufficient, or just a smile on the face.

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