Asia, Palestine, Education

    Promotion of children with intellectual disabilities

    Project Number: 296.1510

    The "Sternberg" rehabilitation center near Ramallah in Palestine supports children and young people with disabilities. Social workers, physiotherapists and art therapists support the affected families through home visits and thus contribute to the social integration of people with disabilities. Children can attend an integrative kindergarten or a special school, and older adolescents also have the opportunity to complete vocational training in agriculture, manual labor or home economics at the center.

    The current situation

    Since Hamas' brutal attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, images of destruction and violence from Israel and the Gaza Strip have shocked the whole world. Israel's subsequent war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip has led to devastating destruction, injuries and deaths (including civilians). With the direct confrontation between Israel and Iran since mid-April 2024, the conflict has taken on a new dimension. Fortunately, the Sternberg Rehabilitation Center is only indirectly affected by the war. Many people are trying to continue their daily lives under the difficult security conditions, earn money and send their children to school. Actions by the Israeli military (especially in refugee camps), settler violence in some places and reactions by extremist Palestinian groups make life and mobility dangerous. However, there is no systematic war in the West Bank. The "Sternberg" sees its task in the absolutely necessary rehabilitation work for children and young people with disabilities. It is therefore politically neutral and refrains from any political interpretation of events at any time. This neutrality is important in order to maintain its independence and avoid being drawn into political disputes. Only in this way can trust in the local population grow and good rehabilitation work be carried out.

    ► The Sternberg statement (PDF)

    Background information

    In 1867, the Herrnhuters began caring for lepers in Jerusalem. In the meantime, leprosy has become curable. The buildings, cisterns and the landscaped garden with trees and shrubs have now functioned as a rehabilitation center for people with disabilities since 1981. Many families are left on their own to care for disabled family members. The "Sternberg" supports affected families and provides educational and vocational qualifications for people with disabilities to enable them to integrate into Palestinian society. Regardless of their religious affiliation, each person receives individual support in their immediate living environment. In the midst of an often turbulent environment, the "Sternberg" is an oasis of peace and tranquility. The management of the center is in Palestinian hands. At the "Sternberg", peaceful cooperation between Christian and Muslim children and staff is a matter of course.

    Project goals

    Support for children and young people with intellectual disabilities:

    • in an inclusive kindergarten for children aged 3 months to 6 years
    • in a special school for children aged 6 to 14
    • in an autism program for children aged 6 to 14
    • at a vocational school for young people aged 14 and over
    • in community-based social work in villages and communities in the northern West Bank
    • with advocacy work to raise awareness in Palestinian society of the rights and needs of people with disabilities.

    Target groups

    • 15 children with and without disabilities in an inclusive kindergarten
    • 30 children with disabilities in special school and autism program
    • 39 Young people in sheltered vocational training
    • 106 children and young people with disabilities in eleven villages and communities and in a refugee camp
    • Palestinian society in the framework of advocacy work.


    Children and adolescents with mental disabilities are supported at "Sternberg" and in surrounding villages with the help of art, music, theater, speech, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Regular visits to parents and families enable close integration of the social environment into the therapeutic measures. In addition to the support of children in kindergarten and special school, there is extensive vocational training work with an attached sheltered workshop and agriculture. The "Sternberg" also carries out successful awareness and advocacy work for the rights of persons with disabilities.

    Project progress

    The "Sternberg" is a recognized pioneer of special education in Palestine and contributes to the implementation of the human right to inclusion, i.e. the equitable participation of all people in Palestinian society. This can be seen, among other things, in the increasing number of children with disabilities who are able to attend regular schools at least on a daily basis or of young people who have been able to take up regular employment abroad after completing vocational training on the "Sternberg". The regular participation of young people from Sternberg in the Special Olympics, the Olympics for people with disabilities, is very pleasing. Sternberg employees also carry out important educational work on the rights of people with disabilities. A broad and successful campaign was launched via social media in 2022. Campaign with the title "It's my right", which has found a broad echo in Palestinian society. The fact that the Sternberg's educational and inclusion work is bearing fruit is proven by the numerous former Sternberg students who have been taken on as regular employees by Palestinian companies.


    • 4.92 million inhabitants
    • Land area of 6'220 km2


    Project budget 2024

    CHF 46'000


    Jacqueline Brunner

    Responsible Church Partnerships

    Tel. 061 260 23 37
    ► E-mail

    Johannes Klemm

    Team Leader Africa and Program Manager Tanzania
    Tel: +41 (0)61 260 23 04
    ► E-mail

    Hope thanks to your support

    Mission 21
    Protestant Mission Basel

    PO Box 270
    Missionsstrasse 21
    4009 Basel, Switzerland
    Tel.: +41 (0)61 260 21 20

    Donation account Switzerland:
    IBAN: CH58 0900 0000 4072 6233 2
    Tax exemption number:

    Donation account Germany:
    Savings Bank Lörrach-Rheinfelden
    Swift BIC: SKLODE66
    BLZ: 683 500 48
    IBAN: DE39 6835 0048 0001 0323 33
    Account No. : 1032333

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