How Young Social Entrepreneur Noor Ajlouni is Helping Blind Students in Jordan

After you finish reading this piece, you will be introduced to an amazing young activist, who created an online network with 30 thousand volunteers who have been helping 700 blind students from 15 different Arab countries (Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Morocco, UEA, Yemen).

In 2013, Matar started as an idea while the young social entrepreneur, Noor Ajlouni, was attending a leadership program in Irbid, Jordan. Here, she came with the idea of creating an online initiative that improves and facilitates educational and cultural opportunities for visually impaired students.

The Matar Project converts cultural and educational books into audiobooks, and helps convert eBooks into formats that support text-to-speech technology so the students can benefit from it in their learning process.

Matar is hosted on Facebook and connects around 4,000 volunteers with 200 blind students from across the Arab World. The volunteers record the texts required by the blind students to keep up with their academic courses and provide them to the students in audio format.

Speaking to Youth Time, Ajlouni elaborates on the inspiration behind it and how successful it has been so far.

After you finish reading this piece, you will be introduced to an amazing young activist, who created an online network with 30 thousand volunteers who have been helping 700 blind students from 15 different Arab countries (Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Morocco, UEA, Yemen).

Creating Something Important from Scratch

Believing that education is one of the most important things in a person’s life and blind and disabled people are just as entitled to this human right as everyone else, Ajlouni founded this important initiative, for which she gives us some context.

Initially she recalls, based on the national Jordanian department of statics, there are 150 thousand visually impaired people in Jordan, they all suffer in accessing education.

90% of them, she adds, do not attend school because of the difficulties that they have. The schools are not physically accessible for them, there are no accessible books for them, or there are no available escorts.

Therefore, almost all the visually impaired students unfortunately cannot attend schools or universities, which deprives them of their right to education; she further explains.

20220101 224017

Lucky enough, here comes Matar to help them by providing educational books in every way that suits them, which gives them for the first time the chance of having an equivalent educational opportunity.

In the early days of this project, what Ajlouni and her team had in common is that they all love to read. So they started seeing who is having trouble reading.

“We started asking people around them and we found out that the blind students in Jordan suffer in accessing education, especially in universities.”, she says to Youth Time.

They did not surrender.

On the contrary, they teamed up and worked on Matar, which now provides blind students with escorts to accompany them to school and university.

“Matar project attracts volunteers who have the passion and ability to help, to prepare suitable recording or writing books for blinds through online communication by providing them with certain pages to convert them to Word documents or record them.”, she adds.

“Where there are no braille books available to them due to lack of braille printers and if it is available, the braille books are very expensive. Also, there are no alternative ways to help them read their books, such as audiobooks. That’s why a lot of them drop schools.”

Acknowledging this situation, what she and her team did is to take the blind student’s book and record it by their voices.

The Beauty of Togetherness

Despite Ajlouni’s powerful will to contribute to this issue, she needed more people to help, so she created a Facebook group where she posted she needs volunteers and whoever commented that he/she wanted to volunteer.

“I sent the book as a PDF file to them through messenger so they can record 10 pages, everyone in their home/country.”

“This is the beauty of Matar, where the volunteer only needs a quiet place to record 10 pages and 20 minutes to help a visually impaired student who is in a different city/country. Also, the volunteer has the choice to volunteer whenever he/she is available.”

After that, Noor tried to understand more about the needs of the visually impaired students, so she and her volunteers converted the PDF into texts to speech format and provide escorts for them during their time in university and at the libraries. “By using this simple method, connecting and creating an online network, 30 thousand volunteers have been helping 700 blind students from 15 different Arab countries (Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Morocco, UEA, Yemen, etc.) to start and continue their education with more than 6500 books prepared by us.”

While being asked to highlight a big achievement, she is happy to share that 95% of their students passed their exams and 60% of them got an A as their GPA.

In such initiatives helping the society, financial stability is very important.

Knowing this, in August 2021, Matar launched their own Coffee shop, located in Irbid so they can have financial sustainability. All of its profit goes to support Matar which leads to support blind students around the Arab world.

Seizing this opportunity, at the end of our interview, Ajlouni, shares an encouraging message with all young people out there struggling to make their voices heard.

“Fear is just a feeling; it does not stop you from doing anything.”

“You will always have challenges. Choose the one that, by overcoming, makes you grow and makes a positive impact on you and on others!”, she concludes.

Picture: Gresë Sermaxhaj


The Contribution of the Young Activist Moniola Odunsi in Fighting for Racial Justice

The Contribution of the Young Activist Moniola Odunsi in Fighting for Racial Justice


 

Share this post

Interested in co-operating with us?

We are open to co-operation from writers and businesses alike. You can reach us on our email at cooperations@youth-time.eu and we will get back to you as quick as we can.

Where to next?