Empowering the Visually Impaired Through Art Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday, 4 October 2014 – Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia, in collaboration with Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Noor Arfa Batik and Canon Malaysia hosted a charity art exhibition today titled Touching Hearts for a special cause in support of the visually impaired.

According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 80% of global blindness is avoidable, resulting in a focused and concentrated international effort to combat avoidable blindness. Sharing this mission, Standard Chartered is committed to eliminate avoidable blindness and treat visual impairment through its global initiative Seeing is Believing (SiB).

The Touching Hearts exhibition, now in its second year, is a collaborative effort by the Bank and its partners aimed to nurture the artistic talents of the visually impaired in hopes of empowering them with lifelong skills.

The exhibition showcased an array of vibrant batik paintings, batik pelangi tees and scarves, produced in a two-day workshop by 22 visually impaired students from SMK Pendidikan Khas (Cacat Penglihatan). This workshop was conducted by Touching Hearts volunteers, comprising employees of Standard Chartered Bank and staff and students of UiTM’s Faculty of Art & Design, who guided and coached the visually impaired. All pieces were available for sale and proceeds were donated to the SiB cause.

Canon Malaysia also organised a one-day photography workshop for the visually impaired students, an experience that resulted in a series of photos captured by the students using professional equipment also on display at the exhibition.

Championing the SiB cause in Malaysia is Dato’ Arif Siddiqui, Chief Information Officer of Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia who said, "Seeing is Believing is a global partnership between Standard Chartered, the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness, and leading eye-care NGOs that tackles avoidable blindness and visual impairment. The Touching Hearts exhibition is one example of our community outreach programme in Malaysia – it’s an opportunity for our employees and our partners to reach out to the local community and empower the visually impaired vocational skills for sustainable living."

To date, SiB has reached an estimated 45 million people through work to prevent and cure sight and through education and awareness campaigns. 2.91 million people have had their sight restored with support from Seeing is Believing.

Funds raised from last year’s Touching Hearts exhibition were used to purchase a Braille Thermoform Machine for the school. This year, the Bank hopes to raise enough funds to purchase the Apex Aladdin equipment, a one-piece desktop magnifier with an adjustable 17" or 20" flat panel monitor.

Other highlights from the exhibition include a batik fashion show by Noor Arfa Batik, an Art Market by the students of UiTM as well as a dynamic performance by hip-hop duo, Hunny Madu and Kayda. -ENDS-

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