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Al-Nour wal Amal Orchestra by Fernando Moleres

In Egypt, being a blind woman without resources means having a bleak future outside the family environment and a negligible chance to make a living other than by begging.

Al-Nour wal Amal (Light and Hope) Association is an Egyptian nongovernmental organization founded in 1954 by Red Crescent volunteers to provide blind women and girls free education and help develop their musical talents. The association runs two orchestras, with roughly 35 members in each. Recently, the group toured all over the world, visiting more than 20 countries on five continents. The musicians use special techniques to overcome their unique challenges. Before playing, the musicians must read the music in Braille and memorize each selection in rehearsals. In the rehearsals, the conductor taps the beats to keep everyone synchronized.

“Our success shows that women, especially those with disabilities, can achieve their goals,” says Shaimaa Yehia, a violinist in the orchestra.

The Spanish photographer Fernando Moleres has been documenting the musicians for many years, but he also followed them on their recent tour to Vienna, Prague, France and Malta.

When blind, even simple tasks such as pouring water require innovative uses of the other senses. Listening to the change in sound and placing a finger inside the glass helps indicate how full it is.
Members of the orchestra walk to their performance in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, during their European tour.
Myriam Kamal, one of the younger members of the orchestra, improves her musical skills with a teacher from Cairo Conservatory in Al-Nour wal Amal Center.
Aida smiles during a break at a rehearsal in Al-Nour wal Amal Center.
Every Sunday and Tuesday, the chamber orchestra of more than 40 women rehearse for two hours with the conductor, Ali Osman.
Gehan Mostafa reads a music score and tells Souma the musical notes during a rehearsal in Al-Nour wal Amal Center.
Members of the chamber orchestra put on the finishing touches before going on stage at Vienna City Hall.
Orchestra members take a break during their European tour.
Members of the orchestra return to the hotel after a rehearsal in Segre, France, the day before the concert.
Hoda rests on the return to the hotel after a rehearsal in Segre, France, before the day of the concert.
Contrabasses stand in the rehearsal room at Al-Nour wal Amal Center in Heliopolis.
Members of the orchestra take a break during their European performance tour.
Before their performance, the musicians tune their musical instruments at Vienna City Hall.
Aida, Mervat Imbaby and Heba Rafat gather at the end of a concert in Maribor, Slovenia, during the orchestra's European tour.
The musicians sometimes get nervous, as they did before a performance in Bratislava Stadium.
Musicians line up for their entrance before giving a concert at Vienna City Hall.
Ali Osman, the conductor, thanks the musicians at the end of their concert at Vienna City Hall.
The musicians have a silent moment before the concert at Vienna City Hall.
Fatma Refat plays in the foreground, with Myriam Kamal, left, and Hoda, right, during a concert at Simon and Judah Church in Prague.
Orchestra members stand up during a concert break at Manoel Theater in Malta.
 
 
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