October 2010

Support for the disabled people in the Gaza strip

The Gaza strip

The Gaza strip is around 40km in length and 10km in width.  This coastal area of land is home to around 1.5 million Arab Palestinians, of which around half are minors.  Around two thirds of the population are refugees, forced to abandon their homes following the wars of 1948 and 1967 and move to one of the 8 refugee camps now found on the Gaza strip.  The high population density coupled with the difficulties following the recent embargo imposed as a security measure by Israel has made the Gaza Strip one of the most troubled areas in the Middle East.  Most of the population survives on less than two dollars a day and around 80% depend on humanitarian aid provided by international organizations and other NGO’s.

The Christian community

Gaza’s Christian community dates back to the early centuries of Christianity.  The city was converted to Christianity by Saint Porphyre who is noted as the first bishop of Gaza and creator of several monastic communities, the ruins of whose churches and monasteries, enriched with beautiful Byzantine mosaics, are still visited today.  At present, the Parish has 250 Catholic members.

The emergency

In Palestine, from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, there is no support in place for children with learning difficulties of for families with disabled children. In the traditional mindset, disability is still seen as a form of divine punishment and brings shame on the family.  It is particularly a problem for females, who struggle to marry and are therefore cast out of society.  Many families choose to isolate disables family members, not allowing them to leave the house. This is a very common problem in the independent Palestinian territories, made worse by the complete lack of training programs and facilities for dealing more difficult cases. Until today, little to nothing has been done to change the attitude that exists.  We must create the facilities and implement training programs regarding the care and the respect of disabled people.

The ATS pro Terra Sancta project in Gaza

Project ‘Gaza Emergency’ supports to two facilities recently founded on the Gaza Strip, offering training and education regarding respecting and taking care of disabled people in Palestinian society. The first facility, run by the Missionary Sisters of Charity, takes care of disabled children aged from 0-11 years old.  The second facility targets adolescents, and is run by the Fathers of the Community of the Incarnate Word.

The training program will be run by local and international experts, in collaboration with Palestinian universities and Italian universities specializing in this kind of teaching.

Specific objectives

1. Providing necessary equipment and support for the infrastructure of the two Christian facilities.

2. Carrying out a training program on disability focused on four separate modules: prevention of stuttering, movement, autism and learning difficulties.

Activities

The Facilities:

  • Restructuring and adaptation of health services for the disabled;
  • Making the facilities accessible for disabled people using ramps etc;
  • Refurnishing the bedrooms adapting them to the needs of disabled people;
  • Purchase of necessary medical equipment;
  • Emergency recovery in cases of abandonment

Training and Awareness:

  • Four training programs of one week will be held in Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin and Ramallh with video links to the University College of Applied Sciences in Gaza.  Upon completion, the video and teaching material with be published.

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Support ATS Pro Terra Sancta and the Custody of the Holy Land in this initiative!

 

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