Saturday, 10 April 2021

A message of hope and perseverance from Star Mountain

A message of hope and perseverance from Star Mountain Rehabilitation Center (SMRC) in the Holy Land by SMRC Director Mrs Ranya Francis Karam

I was thinking what verse from the bible I should quote as an opening remark of how Star Mountain Center has handled the situation of the Coronavirus Crisis and I could not find anything better than the following words of our Lord Jesus Christ, praise be to him.

'You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.'(Matthew 5:14-16)

Similar with the rest of the world, the Coronavirus had an immense impact on the life of the Palestinians in the Holy Land. While the number of infections as well as the number of deaths was minimal in the country when compared to others, the suspension from work in the wake of the coronavirus crisis has deprived hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families of income.

The state of emergency (complete lockdown) announced in the PA-controlled territories early in March has had a negative impact on a huge number of Palestinian families. At least 50,000 Palestinian families have been added to the Palestinian Authority's list of emergency social welfare aid since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, some of which were the families of some of SMRC students. The Palestinian Government estimates total losses in the Palestinian economy to amount to $3.8 billion.

The lockdown that also affected all educational institutions in the Palestinian territories has also closed down all institutions that provide rehabilitation and education services to people with disability. On 17th March 2020 Star Mountain Rehabilitation Center shut down all operations.

However, soon after universities and schools started online education for their students, SMRC students were not less fortunate. In fact, SMRC decided to develop its online education tools that included self-made videos as demonstrations for SMRC students and their families of a variety of training exercises (education and rehabilitation), work papers and one to one video calls. SMRC posted many of the developed videos on Facebook to be accessible to all the students and their care takers.

While we were worried at the beginning, of lack of interest from our students and their families in online communication, we were happily surprised with the remarkable cooperation and interaction they have showed in applying the provided exercises. SMRC requested the parents of the students to take videos of their children applying the exercises and posted them on Facebook. This encouraged SMRC students to further continue exercising and learning similar to their other siblings that are without disability.
While not all of SMRC staff are rehabilitation teachers that can work with people with intellectual disability, the administration and management teams decided to do renovation work to Star Mountain premises. Once the lockdown was eased and people were allowed to commute, the administration and management teams rolled up their sleeves and started cleaning up and planting the gardens, forest and agricultural lands. The group effort boosted everyone's moral, because they could see the result of their work exemplified in a more beautiful and green Star Mountain day after day.

Yes, where there is a will there is a way and where there is faith everything can be achieved even during dire times. Life is what we want it to be and at Star Mountain we want it to be a life of faith, love and hope. And without the support and belief of our benefactors and donors in our cause and the people we serve our achievements would not have been possible. We are thankful to all our donors.

I proudly share with you some pictures of our dedicated staff saving no effort to make Star Mountain 'a city on a hill that cannot be hidden'.

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