Muscat: Keeping a low profile, a voluntary group in Oman is pursuing a noble cause – leaving a fingerprint in the lives of children with special needs by giving them the opportunity to unearth their talent and make their dreams come true.
Named 'Ba9ma' - pronounced as 'Basma' and meaning 'fingerprint' - the group is seeking to break the stereotype about challenged people and show the society that they can make a great contribution to the country.
"The idea to create Basma was formed by a group of friends and family members meeting at coffee shops who had a common goal – doing something different for this segment of the society," the co-founder of the group told the Times of Oman on the sidelines of an Eid celebration event last week.
The group was established in 2010 and aims to help children realise that with determination, self-motivation and skill, they can break any barrier to pursue what they want to achieve.
"We decided to call it Basma as it means fingerprint and with a slight difference in pronunciation, it can also mean a 'smile'," he said, adding that the number '9' in the word 'Ba9ma' is used to represent a letter in Arabic which does not exist in English.
Unfortunately, children with special needs are usually looked upon with sympathy and many people think that they are not able to give something back to the society and the only way to support them is by donating money, he said.
"But they are highly mistaken. These people are quite talented, and the most important thing that they need is a platform to unlock their potential."
He noted that the first experience of the group was with an 11-year-old boy with a great passion for football who could not play the game due to his special condition.
"But he was commentating when his brother was playing football on PlayStation. He was so good that we gave him the opportunity to go live on Oman TV and radio, and he astonished everyone with his excellent memory and talent. We wanted to inspire others, but we were instead inspired by them."
Commenting on other efforts of the group, he said it once organised an art workshop by an Omani artist for children with hearing or speech impairment, selected from the Al Amal (Hope) School. "After the workshop was over, we put their paintings on display at a gallery. You may not believe it, but not a single work was left. All were taken," he added, noting that many of these children are endowed with a great talent for art, which is a common language for all human beings.
According to the co-founder of the group, Basma also engages in awareness activities and is seeking to inform all members of the society that these people do not need charity and sympathy.
"All they need is a real life chance. So we must work together to remove the obstacles that may make them feel less confident about themselves. We have to bridge the gap between these two segments of the society and give them equal opportunities," he said.
Asked about the celebration event, he said that the ceremony takes place almost every year to bring all the children together under one roof so that they can interact with each other and learn from each other.
"We do not want children with special needs to feel they are different," he said.
A lot of fun activities took place during the event held in Al Noor Hall. Children had the chance to make their own pizza, play different games and enjoy drawing and many other activities.
The country can have a better future if all members of the society join hands and work together, the co-founder of Basma said.
Just as a video posted online by Basma says, "Each of us represents a star. Sometimes we shine with the rest. Sometimes we twinkle alone. And sometimes we make someone's dream come true."
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