Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) Qatra Social Work Club held its inaugural event on November 23. The event, led by HBKU’s College of Islamic Studies (CIS), was an opportunity for participants to engage with Richard Geary, founder of the Deaf Reach Program, which strives to systematically instill foundational changes in the education framework for deaf children in Pakistan. The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) 2018 prizewinner shared his story of how, as an American citizen, he made Karachi, Pakistan, his home as well as his efforts to empower the country’s deaf community.
The multiple projects rolled out by Deaf Reach make it a role model for what constitutes real-time, applicable change on the ground, from academic education up to its newest addition of a BA program to vocational training for developing employable skills; high-level accessibility in terms of instruction in Pakistan Sign Language (PSL), full scholarships which embrace deaf children in poor communities, and door-to-door transportation including to and from remote areas; and so much more.
Alina Zaman, President of the Qatra Social Work Club, said: “This was our first stepping stone in striving for our vision in promoting in HBKU and a caring community with self-sufficiency, dignity, harmony, and happiness. Richard Geary’s talk touched our hearts and raised community awareness, and we were able to associate it with our motto that ‘every Qatra [drop] can make a difference’.” Students from Pakistan plan to visit and volunteer at one of the Deaf Reach schools in their upcoming travels to gain a first-hand understanding of how the Deaf Reach empowers the deaf community.