27 December 2016

Ma'an lil-Hayat, a center for people with intellectual disabilities in Bethlehem

The only wool-felting project in Palestine, with a mission: "Introducing the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities and working together for a more humane society".

Archaeology, Culture, and other Religions

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'Ma'an lil-Hayat', in Arabic: 'Together for life', is a center in Bethlehem, where young people and adults with learning difficulties can come together, and make friends. The project is part of L'Arche Communities, an International Federation founded in France in 1964 by Jean Vanier. This story begins in 2009.

MAHERA NASSAR GHAREEB
Director and Founder - Ma'an lil-Hayat
"I had envisioned the need to introduce these communities in our society. Many people and families requested this type of support for their children, but there were no places to accommodate them. These two combinations, the society demand and the fascination for the mission and the vision of the Ark, made me realize that we truly needed this center."
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After obtaining the permission, the logo and the name by L'Arche, we had to choose the nature of the center. Handcrafting was the first idea that came to mind.

MAHERA NASSAR GHAREEB
Director and Founder - Ma'an lil-Hayat
"We wanted to implement something that could really be helpful. We searched; we asked people what was missing in the Palestinian society and found out that no one used the wool. They used to either throw it away or burn it!”

The center, which is still the only workshop dedicated to wool felting, has now two locations, Bethlehem and Dar Sala, which respectively welcome 21 and 7 'key members' as the guests are called. In the Palestinian society, the majority of people with disabilities live with their families. That is why we chose to open a day care center.

AMAL ABU ZELAF
Social Worker
"They usually come at 8.30 am. We start the day together with a song, right after greeting each other. We then inform the public news and start working at 9. Not everyone works in the same way or at the same pace. We then assign them tasks according to their abilities."

SALEM
Key member - Ma'an lil-Hayat
"My name is Salem and I live in Beit Jala, Jemima. I work here. I like everything!"

Every day, the wool retrieved from various farmers of Bethlehem is brought to the center to be recycled. The first step consists in the cleaning and treatment of the raw material. Then, once allowed to dry, we start working in three different rooms, up to the finishing and final packaging.

"Bringing the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities and working together for a more humane society". The motto of L'arche gains strength among the corridors of Ma'an lil-Hayat in Bethlehem.