Martha EDU is a pioneering Jordanian/Syrian social enterprise that uses trending technology and flashcards to boost literacy among d/Deaf children and their families through engaging, interactive, tech-powered learning experiences and products in Jordanian-Arabic Sign Language, Arabic, and English.
A world where every d/Deaf child has access to education and a bright future.
Creating technology-enabled learning products for D/deaf children that can enter every house in Jordan, the Middle East, and the world.
Why the name “Martha EDU”
The name of our social enterprise, Martha EDU, comes from the island of Martha’s Vineyard in the state of Massachusetts in the United States. From the 17th to the early 20th century, because there was a higher incidence of deafness on the island (about 4 per cent), hearing loss was not as stigmatized and almost all the villagers—both deaf and hearing—shared a sign language and could communicate with each other easily. Like the inhabitants of Martha’s Vineyard at that time, we at Martha EDU envision a world in which there are no communication barriers between d/Deaf and hearing people and a society in which deaf people are fully included and considered equal to their peers. You can read more about Martha’s Vineyard in this article by Atlas Obscura here and in the book Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language: Hereditary Deafness on Martha's Vineyard (1988) by Nora Ellen Groce.
It’s not too late to make a difference. The best way for you to do that is to educate and influence the younger generation to make a positive change. Education is the answer and the only way we can build a better future for ourselves and our children.
- Ehab Kahwati, CEO
The story that inspired Martha EDU to begin our journey happened at a bus stop. One of our founders, Ehab Kawhati, was heading home to his town from the Jordanian capital, Amman. While trying to find the bus he would take, Ehab asked a man for directions. However, they struggled to communicate.
Ehab tried to type on his phone to communicate in a written form because the man, named Omar Zghoul, was using a different language. However, it was not English, French, or German, but rather sign language.
For Ehab, realizing that a man in his fifties was unable to speak with others or comprehend written language was a shocking discovery that would soon make him realize that society could do better. We were missing out on the stories and thoughts that people like Omar carried- and in return, people like Omar cannot fully reach us despite living among us every single day, let alone for all the years of Omar's lifetime.
Omar and Ehab ended up finding their way home, but the story stayed in Ehab's memory and the imagination of the Martha EDU team. This experience was a real incentive that motivated us together to start working. We realized that illiteracy among the d/Deaf community and that of people surrounding them was a real challenge. We took our journey steps further by conducting field studies and communicating with experts and specialists, and then we went on learning to build a high-quality educational product that would tangibly improve the lives of the d/Deaf and their loved ones.
The human-centered approach we took enabled us to be in constant touch and conversations with d/Deaf people and their communities. We realized that we can do a lot more if we uproot illiteracy when it forms in the early stages of the life of human beings when they are children, and that's why our first product developed for children, with input by children just like them.
We wholeheartedly want to be a part of people's journey until every child can read, write and communicate meaningfully and with ease with their family and society. Our product was the result of this desire and motivation for change. Our mobile application and educational flashcards are supported with sign language to be the first interactive and affordable home-learning tool of great quality. It is suitable in any place, at any time- designed to make children feel surrounded by love and acceptance in the company of family and friends while enjoying what they do and having fun together. We hope that we reach every family and every home in the Middle East and beyond, wherever our message resonates.
To learn more about our story, click below to watch our CEO’s TEDx Talk:
Meet Our Team
Diversity, tolerance, and cross-sector expertise are in Martha EDU’s DNA. Meet the team behind the social enterprise that is changing the lives of children with hearing disabilities and their families and communities, and learn more about the multiple hats our team wears to make sure we are true to our mission and vision:
CO-FOUNDER & CEO
Ehab Kahwati is a social entrepreneur and innovator and currently serves as the CEO and founder of two social enterprises in Jordan: Martha EDU and IBTKRGO. Martha EDU focuses on producing innovative educational technologies for deaf children, while IBTKRGO provides training and coaching in digital fabrication and other trendy technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT), to youth across the Middle East. Ehab is passionate about using technology for the social empowerment of youth and communities. He holds a BA in computer science and has over 5 years of experience with different NGOs and NPOs in Jordan working in different fields, including online and blended education about technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship for refugees and other underserved communities.
Rasha Abu Shakhdam
CO-FOUNDER & COO
Rasha Abu Shakdam is a social entrepreneur and creative who is passionate about working with people, especially children, whom she believes are the dreamers of the future. She currently serves as the COO of Martha EDU, which she co-founded with Ehab Kahwati, and is in charge of overseeing the product design process from innovation to implementation. Rasha is excited about new ideas and contributes to social innovation by participating in different mentoring and volunteering programs. She holds a BA in Law and came from a legal background before entering the social entrepreneurship space. She was inspired to work in the humanitarian field after a transformative experience in the IRC’s Mahali Community Innovation Lab where she worked with a team to evaluate new technological innovations.