A special event was held at the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev on April 17, 2019, to launch the "Silent Voice" program, which is designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing members of the Bedouin community of the Al-Kasom Regional Council in the Negev. This program began as the individual project that
Sleman Azbarga, a graduate of Cohort 2 of the Mandel Program for Local Leadership in Rahat, developed during his time as a Mandel fellow.
Following the completion of his training at Mandel, Sleman recruited partners and resources for the project. Thanks to his perseverance, determination, and belief in the need to provide a solution for the Bedouin community of the Negev, he recently received a significant budget from the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services, the Joint Distribution Committee, and the Al-Kasom Regional Council, in order to bring his idea to fruition.
The Silent Voice program is designed to integrate deaf and hard-of-hearing members of the Bedouin community into independent life in the community, to strengthen communication between parents and children, and to make the deaf population aware of its rights. The goal of the program is to improve the quality of life of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals and their families.
During the event, the results of a study conducted by Dr. Nuzha Allassad Alhuzail and Dr. Miriam Levinger were presented. The study, which focused on the unique characteristics of individuals with hearing loss in the Bedouin community of the Negev, contained significant testimony regarding how hearing disabilities are perceived in the Bedouin community, and emphasized the importance of adaptation, recognition, and translation of means that are necessary for dealing with hearing impairments in the Bedouin population in the Negev.
It should be noted that Sleman and his team, which is comprised mostly of members of the Bedouin community, developed their programs in collaboration with professionals from the Ministry of Social Welfare and experts from the academic world.
This leadership project creates hope and is an additional step toward improving quality of life in the Negev.