Corona Update: Palestine

Children with disabilities are supported in many ways at Sternberg - for example in painting lessons. Photo: Mission 21

"While we initially feared that our children and young people as well as their families would not be interested in online communication, the remarkable cooperation has positively surprised us," reports Ranya Francis Karam. She is the director of the Sternberg Rehabilitation Center near Ramallah, Palestine. Since the 1980s, the center of the Unity of the Brethren has been supporting disabled children and young people and enabling them to obtain school and vocational qualifications.

Financial worries

Ranya Francis Karam is more concerned about the economic situation. Many people have lost their jobs because of the health measures. Sternberg students, who often come from poor households, are less and less able to pay for their studies and rehabilitation fees. This also has a direct impact on the Sternberg Rehabilitation Center, where the operational gap is widening as the Corona crisis continues. "The pandemic turned from a health problem into a profound shock to the economy and the labor market," says Ranya Francis Karam, summarizing the situation.

Looking forward together

However, the Sternberg Center is not discouraged, on the contrary. Here, too, the digital offers and possibilities are being used more and more, to the delight and support of the families of people with an impairment. Thus, during the lockdown in March and April, WhatsApp groups and Facebook Messenger were set up to continue to accompany and advise students* and parents. Some parents shared daily practices with their impaired children with the group on Facebook. As inspiration and guidance for other families to continue to support and keep their children and teens exercising despite the lockdown. Of course, these measures can only partially replace on-site support. So everyone was happy when Sternberg was able to reopen its doors. The Sternberg Rehabilitation Center is and remains a place where everyone lives by the principle that there is always hope and opportunity, even in difficult times.

► Read report by Ranya Francis Karam

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