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Disability takes back seat as Jordanian woman chases dream

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Sep 15,2019 - Last updated at Sep 15,2019

AMMAN — At the What Really Matters Congress,  Rawan Barakat, 33, from Amman, shared her story, in which her parents discovered a few months after her birth that she did not look at them when they interacted with her.

When she was three or four years old, Rawan’s parents realised that she was visually impaired, and physicians made it clear that there was no hope for her to regain her eyesight.

“This gave them two choices: Hide their child in shame and forget about her; or work hard to let her be like others and integrate her into society,” Rawan told the audience.

“The latter option is what they chose, starting with finding a kindergarten, looking for one that would accommodate me as a visually impaired individual,” she said.

Her parents even allowed her to play in the neighbourhood with the other children, Rawan said, which made her feel like a human being.

While in the seventh grade, she joined a drama school during the summer and discovered her passion for theatre.

Rawan finished Tawjihi with an average of 83 in order to enter the Arts Faculty. “There were many people who tried to put me down, I was told I was accepted into the college because I am visually impaired and they want to use me for donations,” she said.

Rawan said that one day she was with a group of youth from around the Kingdom who were brainstorming how to benefit society, “one wanted to spend time with the elderly, one wanted to paint a school wall, but I wanted to make an audio library for children,” she said.

This led Rawan to start a project that became the Raneen Foundation, which turns books into audiobooks to help not only visually impaired children,  but all children.

Overcoming many challenges, Raneen grew bigger and Rawan was able to be among the 10 finalists in the King Abdullah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement in 2009.

“It is important to invest in any opportunity you come across and prevent yourself from allowing negative thoughts to stop you from changing your life — do not waste any door that might open for you, and face the biggest challenge you will face; yourselves,” Rawan concluded. 

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