"All We See is Possibility":The Alalayiha School for the Blind in Palestine (In Arabic)   
 
"All We See is Possibility":The Alalayiha School for the Blind in Palestine (In Arabic)  
Today’s Good People, Good Works will be presented in Arabic and English, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Pleasant viewers, welcome to Good People, Good Works. According to World Health Organization statistics, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world, and every five seconds someone loses his or her vision due to this illness or other reasons. Globally approximately 285-million people are visually impaired, including 39.8 million who are totally blind.

On today’s program we’ll visit the Alalayiha School for the Blind in Beit Jala, Palestine, which provides special education enabling the visually impaired and blind to smoothly integrate into the public education system and develop their talents. Alalayiha is the first and the oldest school of its kind in the Arab world. Let us now hear more about the school’s background from its director, Mr. Mesbah Hijazi.

This organization is a social-humanitarian institution providing academic and rehabilitative services for blind students or children from the age of six and up to 16 years. It was founded in 1938 in the city of Hebron. And later moved to Ramallah, to Bethlehem, then to Beit Jala where we are now.

The students start here from six years old, from the first grade. They graduate after the ninth grade, so we rehabilitate these students in this period from six years (of age) to 16 to integrate them into their usual school, in the regular school. So they continue in their secondary school in the usual school, with the other usual students, and their university studies also continue as the others.

Students learning at the Alalayiha School learn practical skills such as reading and writing, which they can pass on to benefit more blind people.

This magazine is student made, we publish it and type it at the Alalayiha School and distribute this magazine for all the schools for the blind in Palestine. We are typing this magazine in Arabic and braille for the blind.

Brahim! We have come to verse five. Read it again. From "And they are ordered naught…" Okay?

Yes. Those who disbelieve among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters could not have left off till the clear proof came unto them, a messenger from Allah, reading purified pages containing correct scriptures.

We’ll now see Brahim demonstrate his typing skills.

Okay, continue! Brahim, we have come to the word of Allah. Let him write the word of Allah. What is next? Yes. Keeping religion pure…

In the 73 years that the Alaliyah School has been operating, numerous sightless students have graduated and achieved much in life. Many have also chosen to return as instructors to share their knowledge and experience.

Most of our teachers here, they were students here. In many universities, they are doctors, graduates from here. They continue their life as the others.

From our experience here we see that blind people, they are very clever, they can do the same like everyone else. They can learn, they can build, they can have their own lives. So it’s very important to give them a hand, to teach them. Because they are nice, like I said, clever, they can do many things. Their future will be nice, because we have taken care of them.

The Bamboo Department was established as one of the School’s original projects to assist the blind, and has been supported by the “Peace, O Young” initiative founded by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi of Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates. The program seeks to cultivate students’ unique talents so that they can sustain themselves after entering society.

Now, our services are not limited to the academic aspects only. There are two departments at the School. The first one is a bamboo department. And a child in this department learns how to make desks, tables, furniture or a variety of besoms for cleaning.

The child, after graduating, if he did not succeed academically he will succeed professionally. In this way he will have a profession, a profession with income to live and rely on himself.

Mohamed, a volunteer at the School, is blind and also missing three fingers. However he has risen above his disabilities and in the Bamboo Department creates beautiful bamboo craft pieces with his artful hands.

I wish happiness and education for all, that is, Allah facilitates means for all people in need and no need. For those in need to get rid of their need and the ones in no need to be able to help those in need.

How many children do you have sir?

I have five boys and five girls.

What would you wish for your children?

I wish happiness and love for others.

Mahmoud here makes a traditional chair. It’s an old piece, Mahmoud is reusing this idea, and making this chair using wood and bamboo. And as you see, he is totally blind. Also he lost three fingers in his left hand, as you see. You can consider his work as something incredible. Here Mahmoud produces a broom using wood. And as you see, here is the form of the broom in the beginning, then he’s using this machine to cut the wood. Then he collects the wood in this way, and then puts the bristles for this broom. The products will be in this form in the end.

After its establishment, the Bamboo Department was quickly able to provide professional training to blind students, thanks to the unconditional help and cooperation of many enthusiastic volunteers and instructors.

Ahmed is working here, but this field is not his major; he had no idea three months before about bamboo, and manufacturing bamboo. Ahmed likes this institution, and his work was basically in maintenance, fixing and correcting something that needs correction. But when we started in this area, he was very ready and happy to learn this machine, and to work on it, and to teach it to the students. I have great thanks for a person (like him) who does us a great favor.

All of the Alalayiha School’s exquisite bamboo products are created through the hard-work and patience of its students and teachers.

We started three months ago; here, for example, we have two kinds of tables, a circular one and a small one and also we are doing (Shelves.) shelves, small chairs and large ones. This one is larger than the others, it’s special for one person. He came to the School, and he asked to do this size. And also mirrors; for example, two kinds of mirrors, and we in the future, we will make many more things.

Do you like to work here? When you teach these blind people, how do you feel?

Yes. I feel great, because I feel good to teach blind people, to help them for them for their futures.

Although they can’t see, through their keen sense of hearing and touch, many blind people have developed their own special talents. Examples include the renowned American deaf-blind author and teacher Helen Keller, Italian opera tenor Andrea Bocelli, and marathon athlete Marla Runyan from the US. These kinds of accomplished individuals motivated the Alalayiha School for the Blind to establish its Department of Music in order to develop the abilities of the blind and visually impaired.

The second department is the Department of Music. Blind people in general always have talents. Some of them sing and some of them play (music). We develop and strengthen these talents through a special department for music. A gifted child or one who has an interest in music graduates from here with a very nice profession that offers him a good life by playing music.

This section is for music rehabilitation. Here we have a teacher who is also a social worker, and also he has a music therapy degree from Britain. He graduated from a school in Britain. Here he teaches the students how to use all the musical instruments like the organ, the accordion, and we just started using the computer. In the computer, there is a special program for music.

Through support of the Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs, the School provides on-campus housing for students who live far away. Health care and daily necessities such as food, drink and clothing for the students are also provided by the Ministry. Non-governmental organizations are supporting the School as well.

Thanks to the Pontifical Mission in Jerusalem for the project which opened this area and helped us to improve the infrastructure in general in the School. We've had a lot of deficiencies in the building that were repaired and restored at the expense of the Pontifical Mission in Jerusalem.

The Pontifical Mission in Jerusalem, during the past years, helped us with nearly US$72,000 to improve the status of the School. In fact, the Pontifical Mission's effort is invaluable. We are connected with them and with the campaign "Peace, O Young" supported by Her Highness the Princess Jewaher. I hope in the coming days the cooperation will be continued.

Mr. Hijazi is highly optimistic about the School’s future.

I hope the situation improves more and more to serve our blind children who are honestly, and I say it heartily, worthy of service. As I mentioned, many of them were students and they are academics today. This is delightful and one feels proud talking about it.

We sincerely thank the Alalayiha School for the Blind and its staff for their boundless love, and for ensuring a bright future for Palestinians with visual disabilities. May Allah continue to bless the School’s splendid work so that all its students can enjoy independent and happy lives.

Gentle viewers, we enjoyed your company on today’s program. Coming up next is The World Around Us, after Noteworthy News. May the light of Heaven illuminate all sentient beings.
Pleasant viewers, welcome to Good People, Good Works. According to World Health Organization statistics, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world, and every five seconds someone loses his or her vision due to this illness or other reasons.

Globally approximately 285-million people are visually impaired, including 39.8 million who are totally blind. http://www.emro.who.int/cpb/facts.htm

On today's program we'll visit the Alalayiha School for the Blind in Beit Jala, Palestine, which provides special education enabling the visually impaired and blind to smoothly integrate into the public education system and develop their talents.

Alalayiha is the first and the oldest school of its kind in the Arab world. Let us now hear more about the school's background from its director, Mr. Mesbah Hijazi. http://www.emro.who.int/cpb/facts.htm

Mr. Mesbah Hijazi(m): This organization is a social-humanitarian institution providing academic and rehabilitative services for blind students or children from the age of six and up to 16 years. It was founded in 1938 in the city of Hebron. And later moved to Ramallah, to Bethlehem, then to Beit Jala where we are now.

The students start here from six years old, from the first grade. They graduate after the ninth grade, so we rehabilitate these students in this period from six years (of age) to 16 to integrate them into their usual school, in the regular school. So they continue in their secondary school in the usual school, with the other usual students, and their university studies also continue as the others.


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