No Challenge is Insurmountable: Alia’s story of overcoming blindness

25 January 2019
Alia Mohammed at work in the UNRWA Wadi Seer Training Centre in Amman, Jordan.  © 2019 UNRWA Photo by: Daniah Al-Batayneh

“Eyes are useless when the mind is blind!” says Alia Mohammed, a 40 year-old phone operator at the UNRWA Wadi Seer Vocational Training Centre in Amman, Jordan. At the age of 12, Alia lost her sight in an accident while playing with her cousins. She has since spent her life overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges to her ambition and has managed to obtain a bachelor’s degree and a fulfilling career. Today, Alia is also able to support her father and mother, for whom she is the sole provider.  

As a Palestine refugee living in Jordan, Alia attended an UNRWA elementary school as a child before moving abroad with her family. She returned to Jordan after high-school and enrolled at the University of Jordan. She went on to graduate with an Arabic language bachelor’s degree.

Alia joined the UNRWA task force to serve the Palestine refugees along with her colleagues at the Wadi Seer Training Centre as a phone operator. Her decade and a half journey abroad and her return to Jordan brought her back to UNRWA, “It caught me with a surprise to see a job posting especially for persons with disabilities. Who else would do this? Only UNRWA! As soon as I started my job, a wide range of equipment was made available to me to ensure that I had everything I needed to complete my assignments, include a talking computer and a Braille typing machine,” she recalled. 

“The Agency was also been able to offer me an array of technical courses, all as part of my employment development programme. From computing to English, I’ve been able to gain a diverse set of skills through my professional development courses,” Alia said proudly. She firmly believes that UNRWA has empowered her to turn her disability into opportunity and her challenges into successes.

Alia’s day continues with her supplementary job as an Arabic teacher. “As the sole breadwinner in my family, this supplemental income is essential. More importantly though, the sense of fulfillment and joy that teaching gives me is so rewarding! I have always been passionate about the Arabic language and now I’ve discovered that teaching too adds so much value to my life!” said Alia.

Each of these achievements has been a stepping stone on Alia’s road to achieving her dreams of one day becoming a full time teacher. She is also determined to pursue a postgraduate degree, “I dream of spending my days as a teacher one day and completing my master’s degree in Arabic. I’m in love with teaching and passing on knowledge to the next generation!” Alia shared.

UNRWA continues to support the Palestine refugee community with specialized attention to a dedicated protection mandate which promotes the empowerment of persons with. It is thanks to donor partners like the UAE that the Agency is able to provide essential services to 5.4 million Palestine refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza.

Through its partnership with generous donors like the United Arab Emirates (UAE), UNRWA was able to overcome the biggest deficit in the organization’s history last year. The Agency began 2018 reporting a shortfall of US$ 446 million. Vital contributions from the UAE enabled for the Agency to continue to provide life-saving services to Palestine refugees across the Middle East. This remarkable donation of US$ 50 million, made by the government of the UAE, helped preserve the Agency’s crucial services to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees across the Middle East.