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Red Oak Blind-Friendly Market

Launching of "Red Oak Blind-Friendly Market"

Red Oak launched the first of its kind initiative in Lebanon and the Arab region, which aims at facilitating blind and visually impaired people’s daily lives by helping them secure their purchases with ease.

This initiative which was initiated by Red Oak, in collaboration with “Marqet” and the Youth Association for the Blind, was launched during the opening of the “Blind-Friendly Market” located in Koraytem- Beirut.

The opening was attended by representatives from the Ministries of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, The Ministry of Public Health, and the Ministry of Economy & Trade, along with members of the Youth Association for the blind and a number of special schools’ directors and blind and visually impaired students.

Nadine Abou Zaki

Speaking at the event, the Red Oak President, Ms. Nadine Abou Zaki, said:

“Today, we are presenting a project idea which we hope would ease blind people’s daily lives by helping them secure their purchases while being independent and without seeking others’ help.

This is not the first step that Red Oak has taken. We have already partnered with the Omero Museum of Italy, which thankfully accepted twinning with the National Museum of Beirut to facilitate the blind and visually impaired people’s entrance to the museum.

Today, we are launching the Blind-Friendly Market. I cannot hide my happiness and pride in the team that helped me achieve this mission which I hope would be the starting point of a mega project that will make a real difference in the life of this marginalized group in our society.

I would like to thank Ms. Rola Zuhairi Abdulbaki, who provided her store by making it accessible, and Mr. Amer Makarem, the President of the Youth Association for the Blind, who successfully completed the staff’s training in a record time.

I am confident that this initiative, which is the first of its kind in Lebanon and the Arab world, will not be the last, and I hope that we can circulate it to other stores and even other sectors.

Taking this opportunity, I invite you to participate in the opening of the "Doors. Please Touch" project at the National Museum in Beirut, which will become blind friendly on the 29th of October.

We would like to thank the Ministries’ representatives, media and schools that participated in this project”.

 

Rolla Zuheiri Abdelbaki

Ms. Rolla Abdelbaki, the Director of Marqet stated:

“Ever since it opened its doors four years ago, we never perceived “Marqet” as a conventional business. We did our best to make sure that it becomes an active member in the community. This is mostly due to our strong belief that in life, we have to assume our social responsibility, and give as much as we take, in order to have a positive impact on our environment.

For these reasons, and when Ms. Nadine Abou Zaki approached us with the idea of making “Marqet” the first supermarket in Lebanon that is accessible to the visually impaired, we didn’t hesitate. We knew we would face many difficulties, yet we welcomed the challenge.

As a consequence, here we are today, with a well-trained team ready to serve our visually impaired customers efficiently. I would like to thank Mr. Amer Makarem for his efforts and high professionalism in training our staff, and Mrs. Abou Zaki for her trust and support.

We are proud of this project and we sure hope our step becomes an example for other businesses to join us in assuming our social responsibilities hand in hand.”

The speeches were followed by a tour of the supermarket during which the staff directed the blind people to the locations of various goods and to the payment counters.

The opening was accompanied with a dancing show performed by a number of artists who participated in a “Flash Mob”. The team included: Director: Rouaida al Ghali Hornig; Performers: Bshara Atallah, Lama Amine, Nivine Kallas, Stephanie Estephan; Saxophone: Tom Hornig; Contrebasse: Rueidi Felder; Percussion: Daniel Balabane; Singer performer: Zeinab Mawassi