Photographer Masters Sight Disability

By Rehab Saad

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Dr. Nazih Georges Rizk lost his sight at the age of 16 due to a severe attack on his face by one of his colleagues. Although he went through ten operations in Egypt and England, they were all unfortunately unsuccessful.

 
Without giving up hope, Dr. Rizk decided to overcome his disability by continuing his studies in specialized schools for blind people in Zeitoun, and after high school, he completed his Bachelor and Masters in Sociology from the Faculty of Arts.

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Deciding to become a professional photographer, he has changed people’s idea that photography, by default, depends mainly on our abstract eye to understand the scene we are shooting. “Losing my eyesight motivated me to focus on my other senses and their importance and functions, later realizing that these senses became the main pillars of my life. We have to use them to grow their capabilities,” he commented.

 
Dr. Rizk later became a lecturer, teaching his students the importance of the other four senses, whether they have disabilities or not, and now has followers from all around the world.

How it Started

When asked how he decided he wanted to become a photographer, Dr. Rizk mentioned, “One of my friends gave me a camera, unaware that I had become blind, and at the same time, my knowledge about photography and cameras was limited. I began to take weak and unclear photos, which improved with practice by increasing my dependency on the senses of touch and hearing. I usually note down my remarks of the shot, so that I can compare notes, and after many attempts, my photos became more artistic.”

 
“Moreover, I have an assistant who describes to me the entire scene I want to shoot, and then I choose the angle accordingly using my imagination. This might take days or even months to put together,” he added.

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Dr. Rizk’s first exhibition was sponsored by Al Ahram Caritas Egypt in July 1987. In April of the following year, he was nominated by the Ministry of Social Affairs to travel to the United States, representing Egypt as the first blind photographer in this art form in the world.

 
After that, he settled in Nebraska in 1992 and completed his PhD in the art of sensory photography in the United Sates in 2001.

 
Dr. Rizk’s artistic photos are displayed in over 45 states, as well as in Egypt at Al Ahram, the Press Union and the 6th of October University.

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Takfik Namati TV

Dr. Rizk did not stop there, but in 2012, he founded Takfik Namati, the live streaming channel in California, and in 2013 he launched a second branch in St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Abbaseya, Egypt.

 
Takfik Namati is a non-profit channel that depends mainly on donations. “The painful experience I lived inspired me to think more broadly about other people with disabilities and the need to change the society’s behaviour towards them, especially in Egypt, as they do not receive all of their rights. For example, they should have the right to have a place in schools and universities, a place in the parliament and the right to participate in the government. We have rights in all aspects of economic, education and sovereign positions,” he expressed.

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“My aim is to grant those with disabilities their rights as designated by the United Nations. The organization presents illiteracy courses, directing them to schools and institutes, in addition to creating chances for technical education for individuals who are not interested in joining the university.

 
The channel provides these people with health care programs, as well as holding training workshops for individuals and families dealing with the disabled. We also provide them with suitable job opportunities and train the handicapped according to the disability of each on various works,” explained Dr. Rizk.

 
“Three of the board members of the channel have different disabilities, and we have employed skillful and well-trained staff, the majority of them also with disabilities. The channel will also present political, sports, economic and social programs. It is a wide-ranging and diverse channel, and our slogan is: ‘Disability is a disability of spirit and thought, but there is no physical disability,’” he elaborated. “I hope that businessmen contribute to the expansion of this channel.”

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Takfik Namati is planning to hold training sessions for the blind on computers with screen readers, for students up to any age, and will remain in communication with universities and big institutions all over the world in order to help people with special needs achieve scholarships. The channel is also planning some projects for the handicapped, like providing them with means of transport, medical aspects, family consciousness, development projects, recreational clubs and artistic regards, as well as paving the way for them to explore all these fields.

Other Achievements

Dr. Rizk held several exhibitions in the field of photographic art in the East and West. He is the second person from Egypt after the late president Anwar Al-Sadat who was honored with the Kennedy Gold Medal from the Kennedy Center for Arts in Washington DC. He also holds many awards from all over the world as well as the keys of global cities, including the Gold Medal of the Al-Ahram newspaper in 1995.

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