To train a person with special needs to work is a very delicate issue to handle. Most of these kids and adults are very sensitive. They see a normal person succeed in work and study while they are only limited to receiving love and care.
However, when they get trained to work and achieve in work on a daily basis, their attitude changes. They feel pride in their success and that they can integrate in the society. However, integrating them in the society remains theoretical until the society understands their achievements.
Residents of Al-Amal Institute for the Disabled feel a sense of pride in manufacturing the "Winter Sweater" at Al-Amal Centre in Broummana, which has exceeded 120,000 pieces since 1992 and which have warmed needy persons all over Lebanon.
Nowadays these residents are occupied with the administration and are volunteering in implementing the "Welfare Wheat" program which, merged with the "Winter Sweater", is now called the "Sweater & Wheat" program. This new program encourages people with special needs in rural areas to plant their land with wheat, lentils, chickpeas & beans and turning the wheat into burghul (crushed wheat after boiling & drying the wheat).
The "Welfare Wheat" festival every summer is a big gathering for residents of Al-Amal with volunteers basically coming from 69 welfare centers spread all over Lebanon to help in turning the wheat into burghol and packing the crops before distributing them to the same welfare centers.
During this festival we work together with people with special needs and every minute we feel their pride in their achievements. When we go to swim in the Litani River these kids feel stronger and healthier. Their bodies are rejuvenated by the river water which helps them feel stronger. They also sense the care and love transmitted by their trainers.
The trainers sit daily in the evening and talk about the changes they feel amongst these kids and how they are developing their skills and how the normal kids are accepting them better.
Yes, we are proud of that and hope that you can join us one day during this festival.
The Lebanese Army often join us to assist with logistics and transportation. They also provide advise to the local population on how to avoid land mines and cluster bombs. They even provide some entertainment with their bands.
The festival will finish by the end of this week. So far we have purchased about 20 tons of crops from peasants with special needs. We helped in building the square of the "Rock Village" that Al-Amal is planning to build for people with special needs in South Lebanon on its land near the city of Nabatieh.
We receive visitors on a daily basis to join in the activities and the fun and to show their support. We wish to thank all those who supported us and those who will support us at a later stage. We promise to continue our reports to you.