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Despite all the worries, political injustice, and natural catastrophes that appear to have no end, the Society still strives to ensure unique and vital services to improve the quality of life for our blind and low vision children. An education of good quality is essential for achieving the goal of them becoming useful citizens in the building of a stable and prosperous Palestinian society. Through this ultimate aim of the National Society, we try hard to fill in as much as possible the gaps in a blind child's education that are a hindrance in the quality of his/her education. For the first time this summer, we embarked on running a three-week computer training course for our children in mainstream education. With one relatively new computer, the teacher's laptop, and some help using the old computers, it was possible to teach ten children. It was a great experience for them, and they loved every minute of the course. It was an exceedingly difficult task for the teacher, who was excellent, needless to say that if we had more computers, the children would have benefited immensely, and it would have facilitated the teacher's task considerably. We are hoping to have more new computers by next summer, so that we can benefit a larger number of children, particularly as it is a skill that has become essential for them to master. We hope that ultimately, they will be able to use laptops at school and at university, for writing and reading their homework and exams. The Society is always looking into ways and methods that facilitate the educational procedure.
Parallel to the computer course, we had another course running for teachers and parents who wished to learn Braille. The course was a successful attempt to get the parents more involved in the learning process of their children. Six ladies and one gentleman joined the three-week course.
Parents and teachers learning Braille
The month of August was taken up by staff holidays, office work and preparations for the new scholastic year. Intisar, who is one of our former pupils, currently a third year student at Bethlehem University, and who is receiving board and lodging from the Society, started her new term on August the 22nd. Intisar, 22 years old, comes from a town near Hebron. She came to Al-Shurooq School at the age of seven and was ready to join inclusive education at the age of twelve. She went to a local school in Beit Jala from class six until class eight. During those three years she still bordered at Al-Shurooq School, receiving the benefit of extra curricular activities, and help in all her academic studies. She left us to go to class nine at a local school in her own town living with her family, but still being visited regularly by our social worker and all her needs were met. Two years ago, she sat for her final National exams, set by the Palestinian Ministry of Education, and passed with a distinction. Recognizing the difficulties and expense of her commuting daily from her town to Bethlehem University; the Society offered her free board and lodging.
A new comer
The new school year started on September the 4th with twenty pupils. A'mer the six-year-old boy left us to go to the boys' school in Bethlehem run by the Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs, and Malak the seven-year-old girl from Tulkarem (north of the West Bank) did not return because of the long distance and the difficulty in travelling between Palestinian cities and towns. Mayar and Yazan, the sister and brother who came from Jerusalem, had to leave the school because the family moved to Akko.
So far this term, we've had only one new comer. A five-year-old girl, Malak, was admitted into our programme at the beginning of September. She was born on August 18th 2006, with poor eyesight. Her parents are cousins, and they live in Tarkoomia, a small town on the outskirts of Hebron. The father is a labourer, while the mother is a housewife. Malak has one younger brother, born in 2008, called Baraa'. He has the same eye condition as his sister. Malak is a bright child; but she was hardly with us for a couple of weeks before we had to send her back home, for we discovered that she developed bronchitis, and refused to eat. Her mother telephoned last week and said that she is recovering well, and that she is due to return at the end of the week. Most likely, her brother will be joining her next term, as he has low vision as well.
Mainstreamed children were all visited during the summer holidays, and they've all had a set of new clothing to celebrate the Eid of Ramadan, the Muslim's holy month. Now that schools have started, the children's need for books has become greater. Having the Palestinian Ministry of Education constantly modifying different books, exerts more pressure not only on our employees but on our budget as well. Perhaps this situation suits the printers, as they are probably making more money; but for us, this situation is disastrous since we retype and reprint books continuously.
Intisar at Bethlehem University
The arrival of a new German Volunteer
Our new German volunteer for this year is a twenty-year-old young man called Mathias. He is very willing to work, and is extremely helpful. He helps the teachers in some of the classes, he plays with the children in their playtime, he helps Lara and her brother with their German lessons, he drives our ancient car, and he is particularly interested in music. He is giving piano lessons to three of our children, and he introduced us to his friend, who is giving guitar lessons to three other children. We are grateful to have this arrangement with such a wonderful organization.
Thank you friends, for your continued interest and support.