Friendship Society for the Blind in Bahrain was established in 1981. Initiated by some blind teachers and students for having a society for the blind and visually impaired, they got the idea from AlNoor Khaleeji Institute for the blind. It is now the Saudi Bahraini Institute for the blind. Maitham Madan, spokesperson for The Friendship Society for the Blind details the exemplary services of the society.
The Friendship Society for the Blind in Bahrain started operating in the rented the premises in Mohammed Reef, Manama, and Hoora area. Later, HRH Prince Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa donated the land in East Riffa. The current Society was built on the land between 1990-1991 from the donation received from the social community.
Friendship Society for the Blind operates with a mission to care for all the blind and visually impaired people. It is one of the few organizations that work with the residents in Bahrain who are visually disabled. Another organization similar to them is Bahrain Mobility International Center, who cares for different disabilities.
Friendship Society for the Blind operates in 5 sections- Social, Sports, Women, Education, and PR/Media.
Social: With an aim to keep the social aspect of the organization, Social Department conducts activities like picnics or gatherings where members and volunteers socialize together. They also conduct activities and games.
Sports: The Department covers athletic sports. These are usually between members. They partner with Paralympic Committee and represent the country at Paralympic athletes.
Women: Established less than 15 years ago, the women’s department gives lectures, training, and assistance to women who are visually impaired. The Department focusses more on the privacy, care, and personal needs of the women.
Education: The Department operates a kindergarten, lectures and educational workshops. The kindergarten is a stepping stone for the students to attend regular school or the Bahrain Institute for the Blind and operates from September to June. It is free and open for children with visual impairment. Teaching kids with visual impairment is very demanding. Each student has their own partnered teacher guarantees the best education they can receive. They have nine kids now and a teacher for each of them.
Friendship Society of the Blind ensure educational training for members to qualify for jobs and to be independent. They also have courses for the volunteers that teach them how to assist a person with visual impairment. The civil defense licenses these members to teach. Microsoft also has provided some courses to the Society members.
PR/Media: The Departments document and post videos/pictures of all the activities and projects of Friendship Society for the Blind.
Friendship Society for the Blind
Friendship Society for the Blind is active in the global blind community and maintain a close relationship with International Blind Community (IBC), the Arabian Union for the Blind, and the Asian Union for the Blind.
The organization’s whole population consists of the Board Members, the members (totally blind & low vision members), and the volunteers. The Friendship Society for the Blind gives free access to all in need. You just need to visit, fill up a registration form, and bring your medical report to be a member. The board will analyze and approve the membership. The Board will observe the volunteer’s assistance in the Social activities for six months and then decide their membership.
Friendship Society for the Blind in cooperation with the Ministry of Health has the vision to minimize blindness in the world, not only in Bahrain. The Society is a non-government organization. Their finances are through donations and assistance from the community. The Society provides study materials, eyeglasses (for low vision members), microscopes, and transportation for members. Transportation is one of their biggest projects, be it for the members’ personal grocery shopping or their transport from home to work. They also strive for the employment of their members.
Friendship Society for the Blind plans to create more facilities and offices to provide more for the members and assist the visually impaired people with the support of the public. The society is open every Sunday and Thursday from 5:30 until 8:30, except for the public holidays. During these hours they have members coming for gathering, chatting, having tea, coffee, and to play some games or chess.
Every Sunday in January and February 2020, they conduct lectures of members to others about a broad range of ideas, usually revolving around visual disability. All are welcome.