The group made up by people from Inverurie West along with two friends arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport at 5:30am (Israel time) to be met with one of the features of traveling into Israel. Whilst the majority of our group passed through passport control very quickly, it came to the last person who did not. Taken aside to be asked further questions there followed a wait of around 2 hours before they were allowed to pass through and join the group – this is one of the realities of travelling in this region.
After getting back together, the group headed for Bethlehem and their hotel for somoe much needed rest. Followed by a visit to Al-Shurooq (Sunrise) school for the Blind where we were told about the school, it’s pupils and the work put in to make them a look after themselves and be successful not just in their studies, but in life.
Bakr with School Director Ruba
This was followed by a tour of the school, meeting some of the children such as 9 year old Bakr who, on arriving at the school at the age of 7 was still eating baby food, wearing nappies and could not talk. After lots of hard work by Bakr, and support from occupational therapists, speech therapists and the teacher at the school he is now a happy boy who can speak (both Arabic and some English), is brilliant at maths, and can look after himself. Ruba (the school’s director) explained about the developments they have made in terms of assistive technologies and tactile learning materials but also noted that as they do not receive much government funding they rely on donations to keep them going, funding projects, technology and staff saleries.
The school strives to live by these words.
The words above were painted on to the wall at the entrance to the school to reflect their ethos of being a supportive community around the child including parents, teachers, specialists and their friends. A motto which I think everyone could make use of!
Following our time at the school we returned to the hotel for dinner and an orientation to the trip (and the situation regarding Palestinian Tourism)from Jawad, our tour organiser.
Tomorrow we head to Jerusalem to see the Holy Sites. At this moment, sitting in my room thinking about what is to come, if there’s one thing I hope and pray that everyone on this trip does it’s act by the words of Amit Ray (Walking the Path of Compassion) “Open the window of your mind. Allow the fresh air, new lights and new truths to enter.” Be led by God and let Him show you the truth around you both in the buildings and the people you meet.
“Living Lord, ignite us in your passion for justice
and a yearning to right all wrong.
Strengthen us to work for peace
in the land we call Holy:
for peace among Jew, Christian and Muslim,
for reconcilliation between communities,
for harmony between faiths.
Inspire us to act with the urgency
of your quickening fire,
for blessed are the peacemakers
they shall be called the children of God.