Wednesday, 29 October 2014

More smiles

A great visit today spending time at Al Shurooq School for Blind Children. A Scottish group were visiting at the same time. It was lovely to hear some Edinburgh accents. I watched Shireen, one of the teachers, so patiently caring for the smallest of the children. She helped them with their food and then a wonderful gentle hand washing exercise outside. Later, I was able to sit in on a class. One of the boys was banging his hand on his leg and looked so frustrated. He took hold of my hand, held on and eventually calmed. Afterwards I talked with the head teacher about him. He is totally blind, has autism and has an extremely difficult home life.
Later today I went to The Holy Child Programme in Beit Sahour to pick up the school social worker and together we visited one of the children at home. A lovely visit with a smiling, caring mum with her two children. We helped with some English homework and in return I was taught how to count in Arabic. The youngster, a boy we are helping, is benefitting so well from the school.
Then to Hope School to see the youngsters. All seem very happy with Nader, one of the educators. I will take one of the boys to Ramallah tomorrow to see an audiologist.
Finally today to see the youngsters, so badly injured in the war in Gaza. I am met again with such warm smiles from these exceptionally brave children. I have, again, to undergo having fun made of me because of my allegiance to Barcelona Football Club. One day we will beat Real Madrid – maybe!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

What real courage is about

Tonight I went to the Bethlehem Arab Society Rehabilitation Hospital with a friend who has suffered a series of mini-strokes. Fortunately he is recovering well. Whilst there, one of the youngsters we have been looking after, who has been seriously injured in Gaza, with a big smile asked me to come and see his friend, another we care for and also severely wounded in the Gaza war. When I got to the ward I was met by a ten year old boy, paralysed from the waist down, who with the biggest grin proceeded to make fun of me because of the Barcelona, Real Madrid match yesterday. I had previously told him that Barcelona, of course, would win, but he had assured me that I was talking nonsense and that his team, Real Madrid would be victorious. I had to concede that he was right and that Real Madrid had wiped the floor with my team, Barcelona. I have seen many good and bad things in my life but the fantastic, unbelievable bravery and the joyous humour of these two children has made me so very, very  proud to know these and many other great young people. 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Places full of hope

A great privilege to visit both the Holy Child Programme in Beit Sahour and The L’Arche Community in Bethlehem. Mahmoud Rabah is an intensive care nurse at the Caritas Baby Hospital in Bethlehem and one of ACIC’s local advisors. He and I went to the Holy Child Programme to take a quiet time for the children. A little music and some teaching of relaxation techniques. A successful exercise that produced not a little snoring from some of the children. Then to the L’Arche Community to have a chat and to help make some woollen grottos to sell for Christmas.

Also today to visit a family whose son is blind and receiving great education and care at Al Shurooq School in Beit Jala.

Three fantastic, compassionate places full of hope.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Many smiles hiding so much pain

Another busy few days working with social workers and teachers to identify those children in the greatest need. The one wonderful common denominator amongst all the children I have met is that, the young boy, now paralysed from the waist down as the result of the war in Gaza, the youngster with ADHD and Autism and the three year old who is blind and needing physiotherapy for other physical problems, all smile. The outstanding bravery of these children is unbelievable. The nurses, doctors, teachers, physiotherapists and social workers who give of themselves so compassionately and above and beyond the call of duty is just breath-taking. To talk with a boy today who travels about thirty miles to school each day following his kidney transplant because he yearns to learn is humbling indeed. So much pain but so many smiles. Thank you to the Holy Child Programme in Beit Sahour, Talitha Kumi, Hope School, Al Shurooq and Lifegate Schools in Beit Jala and The Bethlehem Arab Society Hospital for Rehabilitation also in Beit Jala whose staff quietly and with much love, care for our brothers and sisters here.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Picking up the pieces!

As the result of talking with social workers at the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation Hospital I am very happy that we are able to help with some of the costs of the medical care and treatment of three children who were severely injured as the result of the war in Gaza. These three fantastic, cheerful youngsters are facing a difficult and uncertain future, their lives having been torn apart in so many ways. They are, though, receiving such wonderful compassionate care and rehabilitation from a very dedicated hospital team.