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Dear Friends,

With only a few days left before we bid farewell to the year 2012, and looking back, it wasn't an easy year for us Palestinians in many ways. We witnessed eight days of intensive bombardment by Israel which had left Gaza with ugly scars. 167 people killed, a majority of whom were civilians, including 35 children, mounds of crushed stone, twisted metal and shattered glass that were once homes and public buildings to refugees stubbornly refuse to submit to the Israeli occupation.

Also with great difficulty, the United Nations General Assembly announced on November 29th, that Palestine status upgrade from "observer" to a "non-member state" was approved. 138 countries voted for the Palestinian bid, 9 against and 41 abstained. Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets throughout the West Bank and Gaza to celebrate the UN's decision. With our trust is in the Lord, who has never failed us, we are still looking for that light at the end of the tunnel.


Elections and a new Board of Trustees

On December 10th, the National Society for the Visually Handicapped had elections for a new Board of Trustees, for a two year term.
Seven members were elected as follows:

Dr. Simon Araj - Chairman
Ms. Nadia Theodorie - Vice Chairman
Mr. Sami Najjar - Treasurer
Ms. Salpi Giacaman - Secretary
Mr. Shawki Ayasseh - Member
Ms. Nancy Sha'er - Member
Ms. Nora Karmi - Member


New comers

We welcomed two new girls to the family of Al-Shurooq. Duha Bustanji, a ten year old from Bethlehem and Mariam Shokeh, a four year old from the outskirts of Bethlehem.

Duha had congenital cataract in both eyes, underwent several operations at the age of two months. She later developed high intraocular pressure in her right eye, which required surgical intervention. She now has poor low vision. Duha went to regular schools for five years before she joined Al-Shurooq, during which the parents did not think she needed a special school. For five years at school Duha was not given the proper education as teachers constantly sympathized with her condition and did not have the knowhow or the experience to deal with such cases. Sadly, and when she joined Al-Shurooq , that we had to put the parents in the picture. They were shocked to know that at the age of ten, their daughter does not know how to read and write as children her age should. Work with Duha is going to be quite challenging.

Mariam had an encephalocele (sac-like protrusions of the brain and the membranes that cover it through openings in the skull) upon birth. She underwent an operation at the age of 4 months which left her with very low vision. Mariam comes from a family of six, she has two brothers and a sister. She is a very bright child with a lot of potential.

Duha Mariam

Six New Desktops

With the support of United Palestinian Appeal (UPA), the school was able to purchase 6 new desktops to add to the 5 we already had. With 11 desktops, our computer lab is now full and functioning.


A day of fun and sharing at Al-Shurooq

On December 15th, the parents were invited to the school to have a day of fun and sharing. The idea was that parents and their children share and enjoy various activities together, and see the school through the eyes of their little ones.

Mothers and fathers turned up, which had a tremendous impact on their kids. Each one of the teachers prepared a suitable activity that the parents could do with their child. Activities ranged from story telling, bead work, painting to sports games, puzzles and English language quizzes.

Two clowns added more fun to the day, they sang and danced for the children and painted their faces.

Mothers and fathers shared the fun


Christmas parties

On December 23rd, the children had their annual Christmas party at the YMCA in Jerusalem. 20 children and 8 staff members participated.
Getting into Jerusalem was quite easy, they had no problem going through the check point; as the organizers from the YMCA took it upon themselves to issue permits for everyone and also organized for a bus to pick them up and return them to school once the party was over.

The children enjoyed the party, although, unlike previous years, none of the schools attending was given the chance to participate, not even with a Christmas Carol.
Despite the disappointment, our child enjoyed receiving a toy guitar, a story book, and lots of goodies.

On December 29th, Al-Shurooq School held its' annual Christmas lunch and party. Together with members of the Board of Trustees, all staff members and children enjoyed a wonderful lunch, followed by Santa's visit. The children sang Christmas Carols and waited anxiously for Santa's manifestation. When he finally arrived, he gave each child a winter jacket, a cuddly toy and a bag of goodies.


George and Santa at Al-Shurooq At the YMCA


Thank you for all those who made this possible.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year 2013.


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