KARACHI: Deaf Reach, a programme of Family Educational Services Foundation (FESF), has become the first Pakistani programme to win the notable Hamdan-ICESCO Prize for Voluntary Development of Education Facilities in the Islamic world. The award recognizes individuals and organizations leading charitable and voluntary efforts in the field of education.
Richard Geary, Founder and Director of the Deaf Reach, received the award during a prestigious ceremony held on June 12, 2023, at the ICESCO Headquarters in Rabat, Morocco. The visionary efforts of Mr. Geary, Sitara-i-Khidmat, who has resided in Pakistan for over three decades, have been instrumental in transforming the lives of countless deaf persons in the country. Dr. Salim M. Al Malik, Director-General of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), and H.H. Sheikh Rashed bin Hamdan Al Maktoum, Supreme President of the Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation for Distinguished Academic Performance, awarded the prize to FESF along with the other two winners, from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Deaf Reach is one of the only branch networks of schools for the deaf community in Pakistan to provide education and further empower both urban and rural deaf youth and provide them with a better future. The program’s innovative and holistic approach focuses on education and skills training for deaf children and youth, development of teachers and interpreters, Pakistan Sign Language programs for parents and communities, advocacy, job placement, and the creation of educational resources for the deaf.
The head of ICESCO noted that past winners hailed from large and wealthy organizations but this time they were particularly impressed with the work of Deaf Reach in Pakistan as it focused on changing people’s lives, and not just building institutions. The project stood out due to its people and community-centered approach as having the greatest impact. To know more about Deaf Reach’s work, visit: www.deafreach.com