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Summer has just started, and we have just returned from our popular and fabulous holiday in Tabgha on the Sea of Galilee. The weather was not too hot; and this year it was our turn to stay in the house, which was easy, comfortable and air-conditioned. Very different from staying in tents. In order to be fair, and to give the opportunity for the many groups that come, this wonderful facility will only be available for us on alternative years. So next summer God willing, we shall be staying in tents. Nevertheless, what the children enjoy the most is the water. They spent three to four hours daily in the water. In the mornings, when we were not out, the children were occupied in listening to stories on CDs, playing games, and doing hand crafts. They made some lovely decorations which we left hanging in the house we were using, on which we had written the name of the school.
One afternoon, we made our first venture; we took the local
bus and went down to Tiberias. From there, we took the children for a sail on
the lake in one of those leisure boats, then back to Tabgha. The six nights we
spent there were most enjoyable, and the staff and children wished for more days
to be spent in such a beautiful locality.
We all had a marvelous time. We left school on the 23rd and returned on the 29th of June with 19 children, seven staff members, and three volunteers. Such a holiday is so vital for our blind children, as most Palestinian children are deprived from enjoying the beach or lake. This holiday is an opportunity they will never get elsewhere. This is the only time they enjoy the water, they were able to catch and feel a live fish, a crab and the different shells. They were also some animals in the grounds, a dog and rabbit. The three German volunteers, Chris, Nora, and Isa, the latter being with us since September, were a great help. They spent a lot of time with the children, and they just loved them. Unfortunately, they had to cut their stay short, because Isa had to fly back home to be near her eighty-six year old grandmother, who is seriously ill, and of whom she is terribly fond.
Indeed, we cannot be thankful enough to the congregations of Melrose Parish Church and Bowden and their Rev. Alistair Bennett, who took upon himself the responsibility of securing the necessary funds for our children to continue to enjoy such a unique experience.
Enjoying the waters
The group of chilkdren
In the last couple of months during the school term, and during their classes of physical education, the boys practiced playing Torball, a game specially adapted for the blind. With a rattling ball, players are supposed to follow the sound and score the ball straight into the opponent's goal.
The game is becoming more and more popular in Palestine. Schools for the blind have a team each and hope to compete nationally in September. We hope by then our children will play well enough to compete.
What is most surprising is that girls are not included in this game. May be we could fight for that in the future.
The School's Annual excursion
After a long discussion with all members of the staff to think of a suitable place to take the children, taking into consideration their ages and their personal safety, it was once again decided that Jericho was the most convenient place in an unsettled weather. We chose a different resort to the one we'd been to on prior trips, but it was rather disappointing for it was not half as good. Nevertheless, the children had good fun.
Having fun at the park
Children in our mainstream programme are doing well at their schools, but a few are encountering some problems, mainly with their families. Two girls in particular, they both have difficult parents. The parents of one of the girls are receiving and accepting help from our social worker, who for the whole year has been visiting the girl at least twice a week at home and at school; working with both teachers and parents. The parents are appreciative of what Al-Shurooq School is offering her; and she is allowed to join in all courses and activities we organize for our pupils who are included in our mainstream programme. The second girl is having a very hard time, because of her extremely difficult parents. She is treated badly by her mother, and the father is narrow-minded and hardly ever spends time with his children. Since she left us to go into mainstream education three years ago, she was never allowed to participate in any of our programmes, the only time she leaves the house is when she goes to school. She is prevented from using the phone, and even the social worker's visits are not welcomed. This awful situation is putting the girl under a great deal of pressure. She often suffers from severe headaches and is unable to attend school. What is most annoying is that we are unable to do anything about it. Please, pray with us, that God may lead us to find a way to help this child.
We are facing serious financial problems; so much so, that we have started using our reserves. Ever since last October, we have been paying twenty-seven thousand Shekels per month, as a debt we had on the building. This has drained all our money. We paid the last payment at the end of June. It is important that we look for other resources.
Thank you friends for your tireless commitment and support. Special thanks to the friends who came to our rescue.