Project Noor Story
Updated: Mar 9, 2019
Project Noor started due to the desperate need for services and attention to the visually impaired in the Kashmir valley. As an optometrist, I immediately understood this need when pellet gun injuries came to a rise in 2016. We started with a basic training for the visually impaired in February 2017. After that first training, we realized the impact that these injuries had on the visual, functional and behavioral health of these young patients. We immediately began to brainstorm a plan, which turned into Project Noor.
After meeting multiple patients at the February 2017 training, I was touched by their stories. Boys and girls in their teenage years and early twenties had their futures torn apart. They all talked about what their dreams used to be and how those dreams were shattered. They now relied on their family members for everything. They weren’t able to eat on their own, go for a walk or even use the restroom. All of these youth had dropped out of school or quit their jobs. To make matters worse, most of them came from rural and low income families and now felt like a burden to their patients or guardians.
The goal of Project Noor was to develop multiple training programs for the visually impaired in Kashmir. The purpose of these trainings would be to allow these young patients to return to school or to their job. We wanted to allow them to function independently. One of the patients I had the pleasure of meeting was Mohammad Saleem Malik from Kupwara. Below is his story...
Insert: AUDIO FILE
(Translated from Urdu to English by Naureen Haroon)
Please Note: The HELP Foundation was our implementation partner in Kashmir. MIGHT WANT TO MENTION THE NEW PROJECT OWNER HERE.
Assalamu'alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
My name is Muhammad Saleem Malik. I am from the district of Kupwara. I am 24 years old. I used to be an electrical fitter. On August 5 2016 I had a pellet gun injury which caused me to lose vision in both of my eyes. After the injury, I was rushed to SMH Hospital in Srinagar, where I had emergency surgeries. Doctors told me that my vision would not come back, although they tried a lot to save my eyesight. Fifteen days later, I was back at SMH for another surgery. I was sitting in ward number eight. During that time there were many other victims waiting for service because surgeries could not be done immediately for all the patients. One morning a lady suddenly came to the ward who said she was affiliated with the HELP Foundation. She told me that she would send me to Hyderabad for treatment. With her HELP, I did go to Hyderabad for treatment which was free of cost. I had two surgeries in Hyderabad. After one-and-a-half months I was discharged from the hospital and I returned to my home. However, after returning home I faced a lot of personal difficulties, which I cannot share with you. After two months, I received a call from HELP Foundation, telling me they were conducting a five day workshop for several pellet injury patients. A few experts were coming from Delhi to train the patients about mobility and how to use our phones. I attended the five day training program. Prior to my injury, I would never leave my home. After the training I started leaving the home independently and go to shops and other locations. By using the walking stick [which I was provided at the training], I was able to leave my home and walk outside. I am sharing this information to show you how the five day training allowed me to be independent and walk on my own two feet. After two months, I was sent to Hyderabad for another training program. I attended a 45 day training program in Hyderabad. I completed a computer course and a mobility course [in Hyderabad]. After that I returned home and now had a new target in my mind; I decided that using a laptop I will start a business or complete some qualifying exams [to further my career]. So, I contacted the HELP Foundation and requested a laptop device. After 15 days they accepted my request and I was given a laptop. Through this laptop, I am currently completing my qualification exams. After twenty days, they held another workshop, where we received a smart cane and Android phone. I am able to use that phone using the “talk-back” function. I can now call someone myself, without any assistance. Previously, if I had to communicate with someone, I would need to ask someone if I could borrow their phone and if they could dial a number for me. I used to be dependent on everyone and now I am independent. I am no longer dependent on anyone. I am very, very grateful to the HELP Foundation and Revive Kashmir and would like to thank them for all the support they have given me. This support has provided me with awareness; I was in need of a guide and I have received that in the image of Revive Kashmir and the HELP Foundation.
By Naureen Haroon