The Benevolent Lebanese Evangelical School for Special Education and Development
Ghabeh Street no. 62, Karm El-Zeitoun, Achrafieh, Beirut - Lebanon
I am happy to report to all our friends and partners, that starting
October 1st 2006, I will have a major job change. After Rev. Dr. Riad
Kassis resigned his post as principal of Schneller school, and after a
period of prayer and serious thought, I decided to accept this new
calling to serve our Lord through leading the ministry of Schneller
school. I felt that BLESSED is now OK. Both programs are running
smoothly under the leadership of Miss Therese Khoury (St. Luke’s
Program) and Miss Joumana Abd El-Bakki (Bartimaeus Program). We
re-employed Mr. Suheil Jabbour to look after the business office, and we
employed an additional member of staff to allow Miss Therese to dedicate
more time for administrative matters relating to her program. Mrs.
Elizabeth Hayes will be taking over from me as the new principal, and I
know BLESSED will be very safe in her hands.
Thank you very much and may god bless you.
George D. Haddad
We finally managed to put the name of our school on our buses. We added an extra touch to make them look attractive. This also makes it safer for our children, as taxi-service mini-buses will no more confuse us with their own. We will thus avoid competition in driving as others try to continuously overtake our buses, thinking we may take their passengers.
The academic year 2006/2007
for the Bartimaeus Program started on Monday September 18, 2006.
Everyone was so happy to be back and catch up with friends especially
after the terrible war in Lebanon. Children of our St. Luke's Program returned to school
on Monday 25 September. We were delighted to know that all are children
are well and happy. We have a few new students in both programs this
year. They were fitting in very quickly. Everything was running very
smoothly. It is hard to imagine that the country was going through a
terrible war only a few weeks ago. Praise God for the resilience of
children and people in general. We hope and pray that this will be
another blessed academic year.
The yearly lunch for our teachers and members of staff was held on September 14, 2006 in appreciation of their hard work. As there are always objections to fast-food restaurants, Afram managed to set us up in a very nice Lebanese restaurant in the Dog River valley which is very reasonable and offers delicious food. At first we were worried as the price was very cheap. But considering the desperate situation of restaurant owners in Lebanon after the war, we decided to take the risk. We went to Al-Sunnara restaurant and we did have a delicious lunch. The food was very good and everyone had a wonderful time. The setting was lovely, and the food was great, so everyone thanked Afram for helping us discover this lovely place. The president of our society, LES (the Lebanese Evangelical Society), was also with us. He thanked Rev. Haddad and the BLESSED team for their dedication and hard work.
The Braille music system we bought with funds kindly donated by BibleLands (in memory of Arthur Walker and Lloyd Dean Partridge) and Mr. Khalil Younes, has finally been installed with all its software and hardware. It comprises of a Dell Dimension 3100 desktop computer connected to a Dell flat-bed scanner/printer and a Visio Braille terminal (PACmate PM-20 B. The latest versions of the screen reader Jaws (version 7) and the Braille music translator from Dancing Dots: Goodfeel (version 3) are installed on the system. Visually impaired students who are studying music will get ordinary music sheets and put them in the flatbed scanner connected to the computer to scan them. The computer will load the music, play it, and automatically convert it to Braille music notation. This can be embossed on the Braille embosser to provide visually impaired students with the Braille music sheets. This is a very important addition to our school and it will transform teaching music in our school. We express our most sincere gratitude to BibleLands, Mr. & Mrs. Partridge, the Walker family, and Mr. Khalil Younes for enabling us to acquire this very advanced system. We praise God for the wonderful support we receive from our very kind partners.
Friday 30 June 2006 was the last day of the school-year. Our children prepared a very nice program for this special day. They celebrated the end of the academic year with songs, dance, and other activities in the presence of some of the parents. They later enjoyed the cakes and cookies they themselves prepared. They then danced to music and had great fun. They all went home with a big smile on their faces having had a very nice day.
Four students from the Bartimaeus program: Randa Madani, Nadeen Atallah, Ani Sivakjian, and Dolly Atallah, successfully completed the requirements for the certificate of Baking (Level 3). Having passed the exams, both theoretical and practical, Leonard Campbell handed them their certificates on Thursday 29 June 2006 at the end of the chapel service. Later in the evening, all students of the Bartimaeus program and members of staff were invited to celebrate this achievement in Leonard's flat in Mansourieh. Leonard baked different varieties of the local bread (Manaeesh) for the whole group. Everyone had a delightful evening, some eating as many as four Manaeesh. We express our sincere gratitude to Leonard for the lovely evening and the wonderful achievement of our students through his dedication and hard work, and we congratulate the students on their success.
The older group of children of our St. Luke's program went for a school trip on Thursday 29 June 2006. They went to Jeita grotto and then to Byblos where they visited the marina, the ruins of the ancient castle, and then the Byblos town park. They had a picnic lunch in the park and enjoyed the slides and swings. They returned to school in the afternoon refreshed and quite exhausted.
The younger group of children of our St. Luke's program went for a school trip on Tuesday 27 June 2006. They went to Byblos where they visited the marina and then the Byblos town park. They had a picnic lunch there and enjoyed the slides and swings. They returned to school in the afternoon refreshed and quite exhausted.
David Judson, Mike Parker, and Stuart Plowman of MECO, Cyprus visited BLESSED on Thursday 15 June 2006. David will be retiring soon and Mike and Stuart are taking over so it was a time for David to meet with old friends, and a time for Mike and Stuart to make new ones. They attended the chapel service then joined the Bartimaeus students for the morning coffee break. They returned in the evening for more time in our school as the morning visit was short due to commitments to other appointments. It was a time to thank David for all the wonderful work he has done to our school for so many years, and also an opportunity to meet with Mike and Stuart to get to know them and discuss how our partnership with MECO will be developed. We express our thanks to David, Mike, and Stuart for their visit, friendship, and kind support of our school.
We received a very kind donation form Mr. Khalil Younes of US$ 1200. This donation will go towards the Braille Music System. It will be added to the donation kindly sent by BibleLands and both are enough to get all the equipment we need. The system will comprise of a standard desktop computer connected to a flat-bed scanner and a Visio Braille terminal. The latest versions of the screen reader Jaws and the Braille music translator Goodfeel will be installed on the system. Visually impaired students who are studying music will get ordinary music sheets and put them in the flatbed scanner connected to the computer to scan them. The computer will load the music, play it, and automatically convert it to Braille music notation. This can be embossed on the Braille embosser to provide visually impaired students with the Braille music sheets. We have been wanting this system for years. It will transform the way we teach music. Our music teachers and students are delighted with this important addition to our equipment. We express our sincere thanks to our dear friend, Mr. Khalil Younes for his contribution towards this project and for his continued support of our school.
The double-door refrigerator which was needed in our kitchen was delivered on Thursday 8 June 2006. It was bought with donations kindly sent by "DONOR" US$ 1500, MECO (Middle East Christian Outreach) US$ 435, and the Farah Foundation US$ 300. The old refrigerator's performance is erratic causing the spoilage of fruits and vegetables because of frost formation. It is also very badly rusted from the inside. It is now only used to cool drinking water, and the new one is used to keep the vegetables and fruits which we buy whole-sale and need to keep for long periods. We express our gratitude to "DONOR", MECO, and the Farah Foundation for their kind generosity, and we praise God that our kitchen is now fully equipped. We still need to eventually replace the old cabinets, but this can wait for now.
Trip to Taanayel Dairy
The younger group of children in our St. Luke's program went for a school trip to the Bikaa valley on Thursday 1 June 2006. Their destination was Taanayal Monastery Dairy. Miss Zahra Abou Jawdeh, Mrs. Leila Harb, and Miss Fadia Kaady accompanied the children. After visiting the dairy they had a picnic lunch near by. It was a very educating trip that the children very much enjoyed. We express our thanks to Taanayel Monastery Dairy for hosting our children.
BLESSED Benefits from Government Reform
One of the important reforms of the government of Prime minister Fouad Sinyora benefits institutions like BLESSED that receive subsidies regularly from the ministry of social affairs. The old system required the principal to keep calling the offices of the ministry to inquire if the cheques were ready. After repeated phone-calls that extended sometimes for months, he had to go to the offices of the ministry in person to collect the cheques. The Lebanese government wisely decided to cut on the bureaucracy by changing the system to that of direct transfers from the ministry of finance to the bank account of institutions. We completed all the paper work that was required and hoped to receive the payments that were due. Initially, we were very worried as we heard many rumors that prompted us to prepare our staff for a lengthy delay in receiving their pay-cheques this month. But before the end of the month, lo and behold, the amount due was deposited in our bank account. No more trips to receive the cheques and move from one office to another waiting for this or that civil servant to be in his/her office. No more embarrassing phone calls that regularly had the no answer for three to four times before the sound of wonderful yes was heard. It is a step that we are delighted with and we thank and congratulate our Lebanese government for. We hope and pray that this government will move ahead with all its reform policy for the benefit of everyone.
Stuart Plowman Visits BLESSED
MECO operations director, Stuart Plowman, and MECO Lebanon field leader, Rev. Peter Hayes, visited BLESSED on Saturday 27 May 2006. They met with Leonard Campbell and Rev. George Haddad. The future of the bakery project was discussed in line with Leonard's effort to setup an employment project for students who complete the baking program. Stuart who was visiting for the first time was shown around the school. We express our sincere gratitude to MECO for their continued support of our school and for the commitment to support our bakery project both in funding and mission volunteers. We express our thanks to Stuart Plowman and Rev. Peter Hayes for their friendship, support, and their kind visit.
Samford Training Conference
Four of our teachers attended the Samford Training Conference (May 25th & 26th) which was held by the Association of Evangelical Schools in Lebanon in partnership with Samford University in the Near East School of Theology. They attended the first session held on Thursday, May 25th. Its theme was: Common Learning disabilities, and the lecturer was Dr. David Finn. They also attended the second session held on Friday, May 26th when the theme was: Using Technology to Optimize Teaching and Learning. The lecturer was Dr. Michele Haralson. The third session (May 27th) was only for school principals and the theme was: Improving School Administration and Organization to Support Optimal Learning and Teaching. The third lecturer was Dr. John Harris. It was an extremely valuable conference and we express our thanks to Dr. David Finn, Dr. Michele Haralson, Dr. John Harris, the Association of Evangelical Schools in Lebanon, and Samford University for this very important conference.
Sarkissian Bible Study Group at BLESSED
The bible study group that meets at the house of Rev. & Mrs. Sarkissian, of the French Protestant Church in Beirut, visited BLESSED on Friday 26 May, 2006. The group attended our chapel service which was lead by Rev. George Haddad. They then joined students and teachers of the Bartimaeus program for the morning coffee break. Everyone was offered fresh scones and biscuits from Leonard's bakery. The ladies then visited the bakery and bought bread and other bakery products. We express our thanks to Mrs. Sarkissian and the ladies of her bible study group for their visit and kind donation to our school. We also express our thanks to the French Protestant Church for another kind donation sent to us with Mrs. Sarkissian.
Medical Checkup for all our Students
Dr. Habib Hezkial started the yearly medical checkup for our students and children on Thursday May 25, 2006. He was able to see all the students of the Bartimaeus program and some of the children of the St. Luke's program. He returned on Tuesday 30 May and examined the rest of the children. Those who needed referrals were given reports that will be followed up by us and their parents. All our medical records were updated in accordance with the regulations of the ministry of social affairs.
St. Isaiah's Monastery Receives Bartimaeus Students
Tuesday 16 May 2006 was a very special day for students of our Bartimaeus program. Miss Zahra Abou Jawdeh had arranged for them to visit St. Isaiah's Monastery in Broumana. We expected to have a special day, but the welcome we received exceeded our highest expectations. The abbot of the monastery Father Charbel Abi Khalil and his assistant Father Fady Musallam and all the monks and ordinands gave our students such a wonderful and loving welcome that is almost impossible to describe. The love of our lord Jesus Christ was overwhelming everyone of our students through the monks and ordinands. We praise God for those wonderful young Maronite monks who are dedicating their lives to the service of our lord Jesus Christ. The monastery goes back to the year 1700 and its patron is St. Isaiah (351-440 AD son of Sumakhos the ruler of Aleppo). Our students were welcomed and a brief history of the monastery was explained to them. They later went around visiting every part from the first tiny chapel built in the year 1700 by the first monks to the main chapel that has a lovely pipe organ. Upon our request, and as all our students have never heard a pipe organ before, Father Elie Ruhana played magnificent sacred music to our students who later requested certain hymns to be played. Father Ruhana played the requested hymns and our students sang along. We later joined all the monks and ordinands for morning prayer. Our students with all our staff accompanying them were invited for lunch and the hospitality was truly Eastern Christian. We had difficulty leaving the place as the welcome we received made it feel like home. It was truly a day of the kingdom of God. We praise God for this wonderful ecumenical spirit and for the Christian love and calling that unites us all. We express our most sincere gratitude to Father Charbel Abi Khalil, Father Fady Musallam, Father Elie Ruhana, and all the monks and ordinands for giving us such a wonderful unforgettable day in St. Isaiah's monastery.
Very Kind donation from BibleLands
We received a very kind donation form BibleLands of GBP 1.591. Part of this donation (GBP 448) is for a visio Braille machine in memory of Arthur Walker. Another part (GBP 513) is for the Braille music translator from Mr. & Mrs Partridge in memory of Lloyd Dean Partridge. We express our sincere gratitude to BibleLands and their very kind supporters for this kind donation and their continued support of our school.
Kind Donations from Dr. & Mrs. Farah
We received two kind donations from Dr. Fuad and Mrs Mona Farah. The first donation of US$ 200 in memory of Viola Shakkour, and the second of US$ 100 in memory of Mr. George Kaneb. We express our thanks to the Farahs for their kind and continued support of our school.
Children Visit St. Paul's Printing Press
Children from our St. Luke's Program visited St. Paul's Printing Press in Jounieh on Thursday 11 May 2006. The visit was arranged by Miss Zahra Abou Jawdeh and Father Jack Ghabi. The children accompanied by Miss Therese Khoury and Miss Zahra Abou Jadeh went around the printing press learning how books are printed. They were later offered refreshments. This was followed by a visit to St. Paul's church in Harrissa. They had a picnic lunch nearby and returned to school refreshed, better informed, and very happy. We express our thanks to Father Jack Ghabi and St. Paul's Printing press for the wonderful reception of our children.
Kind Gesture from Youssef R. Ghoussoub Tool-shop
We needed twenty hooks to install near the bedrooms of our students in order for them to hang clothing items or towels. We went to Youssef R. Ghoussoub Tool-shop. After choosing the hooks (type and color) and checking the price, and upon asking for the receipt to be made in the name of our school, Mr. Ghoussoub said: "We also ought to help and contribute to you. These hooks are our little contribution." This was a very kind and encouraging gesture. It is wonderful to see members of the community realize that they ought to help people with special needs. We express our sincere thanks to Mr. Ghoussoub and we praise God for Christian charity and love.
Christian Shkeiban Donates Toys
Christian Skeiban, who is now nine years old, decided to donate all his toys to our school. Afram and some boys from the St. Luke's program went to the Shkeiban's home on 28 April and on the 3rd of May, and they brought two bus-loads of toys. Items included lots of toys, educational material, a bicycle, and a slide among many items. Mrs. Shkeiban also sent us a gas heater. All items are in a very good condition. We express our thanks to Christian and the Shkeiban family for this kind donation to our school.
Bartimaeus Students Wish Leonard Happy Birthday
Student's of the Bartimaeus program celebrated Leonard's birthday on Friday 28 April 2006 during the morning coffee break. They did not want to miss his birthday which will fall on a Sunday this year when they will be at home for the weekend. Sabah prepared the cakes and everyone sang Leonard happy birthday. Sabah's chocolate cake was delicious as usual so everyone had a very good time.
Easter Celebration in Praise and Prayer
Wednesday 12 of April 2006 was the last day of school before the Easter holiday. Children of our St. Luke's program were busy all day finishing the Easter baskets they prepared to take home to their parents. As the day progressed more and more children were proudly showing their beautiful Easter baskets until everyone was holding one. They all succeeded in resisting the temptation to consume the chocolate eggs inside, at least, as far as we could see. Students of the Bartimaeus program celebrated Easter in hymns and bible reading. Most of them participated in a special Easter service lead by Mr. Michael Haddad. Some sang while others read bible passage. Later in the afternoon, they all went home for the Easter holiday. Students and children returned to school on Tuesday morning 25 April 2006 when the Easter holiday ended.
Bartimaeus Students in City Mall
Students of our Bartimaeus program along with most of their teachers and two students from the St. Luke's program visited the City Mall on 31 March 2006. They explored this huge mall for the first time. Each visually impaired student was accompanied by a sighted person who described what he or she was seeing. It was a good exercise as students moved from one section to another correctly detecting which section they were in from the huge variety of scents and smells. Cosmetics, detergents, cheeses, meets, fish, fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices, breads, and pastries were all revealing their sections. Some of our students tried escalators for the first time. They stopped for refreshments at McDonalds, some had ice-cream while others had apple-pie. Although most of them wanted to stay longer, they all returned to school in time for lunch.
BibleLands' Grant for Braille Music Translator
We received delightful news from Mrs. Jennie Watts, Overseas Liaison Officer of BibleLands UK, that we will be receiving a grant of GBP 400 towards buying the GOODFEEL Braille Music Translator. The donation was made by Mr. Partridge in memory of his father Lloyd Dean Partridge. We started teaching our students Braille music notation last year and we have been using the demo version of the program which, like all demos, has major limitations including the fact that it does not save the work. With this addition to our Bartimaeus program, our teaching of music will advance drastically, and our students will no more face limitations imposed on them by their visual impairment. Our music teachers are delighted as this program will help them break the previously imposed limitation on their ability to advance in playing musical instruments. The ability to read music notation will open the world of music to them. We express our sincere gratitude to Mr. partridge and to our dear friends and partners at BibleLands for this wonderful addition to our program.
Naylors Visit BLESSED
Hilary and Graham Naylor visited BLESSED on Friday 17 March 2006. They arrived in time to see our children and student before they left to go home for the weekend. They visited our classrooms, workshops, and Leonard's Bakery. They are currently helping at the MECO (Middle East Christian Outreach) office in Cyprus. Hilary is coordinating the recruitment of possible volunteers who will help in different Christina institutions in the Middle East. The needs of our school were discussed. Visiting the places where volunteers may have future placement is a very good idea for all parties. We express our thanks to Hilary and Graham for their kind visit.
New Arabic Publication: ولد كسائر الأولاد لندى بركات خواجه
Mrs. Nada Barakat-Khawaja's book that was originally published in French under the title: "C'est un enfant lui aussi" was released in March 2006 by Dar Annahar Publishers in the Arabic language. It is the story of a very courageous mother who had to face the failures of society, schools, educators, doctors, psychologists, special educators, friends and members of the community in order to provide the quality care that her special-needs son required. She tells her story from the moment her son was born to the present. She relays the enormous difficulties, biases, and failures of the community to accommodate a basic and integral part of its natural composition: children with special needs. Her story is a wonderful inspiration to every parent with a special-needs child to be the point of reference to what represents the best interest of the child, through educating one's self and the community, to do what is best for the child. Her tactful and educated approach to confront doctors, teachers, special educators, and almost everyone who had to deal with her son, in order to challenge them to give him the professional care, equal to any other child, in his rightful setting in the center of the community, is a model to all parents. Her book is a wonderful reminder to every member of the community that special-needs persons are an integral part of our existence just like the lilies of the fields and the bright stars of a clear night sky. Our humanity is at a great loss when we deny them their rightful place in the community.
Snow Trip for St. Luke's Children
Tuesday 7 March 2006 was a lovely warm day with plenty of sunshine. The children were expecting a trip to the snow as they knew of that of the Bartimaeus program and were quite impatient waiting for theirs. Miss Therese, Afram and the other teachers got everything ready and the school bus was full of bright happy faces ready, at last, for the long awaited snow trip. They went to Faraya, had a lot of fun and plenty of exercise. On the way back they stopped for a picnic lunch in Ballooneh park. After lunch they enjoyed the swings and the slides. They returned late in the afternoon exhausted and certainly very refreshed. The same trip was repeated for the rest of the children on Wednesday 8 March.
Another Kind Donation from MECO
We received another kind donation from MECO (Middle East Christian Outreach) of US$ 435. It will go towards buying the double-door refrigerator we need for our kitchen. We express our sincere gratitude to our MECO sisters and brother for their kindness and continued support of our school.
New Industrial Dishwasher
With kind donations from MECO (Middle East Christian Outreach) we were able to buy an industrial dishwasher for our kitchen (Electrolux-Zanussi LS5/WT4). The old dishwasher is an ordinary home dishwasher which takes one hour and forty five minutes to complete one cycle. The new one takes only two minutes to complete a cycle. We were only able to use the dishwasher once a day, but with the new one all dishwashing will be done by it efficiently. This is wonderful news to Randa and Sabah. It will reduce their workload and ensure a very hygienic kitchen. With this addition we moved one step ahead towards equipping our kitchen with the necessary items that will enable Sabah and Randa to cater to the increasing needs of our school. We express our most sincere gratitude to our MECO Christian sisters and brothers for enabling us to buy the dishwasher, and we praise God for our partnership with them.
Adrienne Lehner of Geneva Global at BLESSED
Adrienne Lehner, senior research analyst of Geneva Global, visited our school on Tuesday 21 February 2006. She met with Rev. Haddad and heard from him about the history, recent developments, and vision for the future of our school. Possible future projects were discussed and how Geneva Global may be able to be the link with donors in the USA and UK if the suggested projects meet the detailed and precise criteria of Geneva Global. We express our thanks to Adrienne for her kind visit. We also express our thanks to Barbara Shaw of CMS (Church Mission Society) who was the link person who facilitated this visit.
Snow Trip for the Bartimaeus Program
Winter this year was quite cold in Lebanon with plenty of rain. We lately had a few days of nice sunshine so it was a good opportunity to take students of the Bartimaeus program for a trip to the snow. Sabah prepared some sandwiches and fruits, and the students headed on Tuesday 21 February to Faraya, a ski resort in Mount Lebanon. Leonard, Sarah, Afram and Rania were leading our visually impaired students during the trip. Dolly fell in a snow hole and had to be pulled out. She enjoyed the fall, her rescue by Leonard and Afram, and certainly telling about her adventure upon her return They all had a very refreshing day and all, including Dolly, returned safely to school.
St. Luke's Children at the Mall
Tuesday the 7th of February was the day for a group of children from our St. Luke's program to visit a local Mall. Mrs. Leila, Miss Mirella, Miss Fadia and Afram took the children to explore the Geant Casino mall for the whole morning. Mrs. Leila Harb invited the children for lunch at McDonald's restaurant in which they also had lots of fun. The children had a wonderful day. We express our thanks to Mrs. Leila Harb and all the other teachers for the wonderful day that our children very much enjoyed.
Very Kind Donation from "DONOR"
We received a very kind donation from "DONOR" on the 3rd of February 2006 of US$ 1500. The donation will go towards buying the double-door refrigerator we need for our kitchen. We express our sincere gratitude to our "DONOR" sisters and brother for their kindness and continued support of our school. We also pray that God may continue to bless and protect them.
MECO Short-term Volunteer
Miss Sarah Tattershall, a short-term volunteer from the United Kingdom, arrived at BLESSED on Monday 31 January 2006. She was met at the airport by Mr. Leonard Campbell and Rev. George Haddad. She stayed with the visually impaired girls and provided them with dedicated Christian fellowship for five weeks. She also helped at Leonard's Bakery. She returned to the UK early Monday morning 6 March 2006. Leonard kindly drove her to the airport. Her visit was kindly arranged by MECO (Middle East Christian Outreach). Her visit to BLESSED was highly appreciated by everyone especially the visually impaired girls. We express our thanks to her and to MECO for her wonderful Christian contribution to the life of our school.
Farra Design Center Donates Toys
Farra Design Center c/o the Rotary Club - Baabda, kindly donated toys (Today'
Kids ) to our children. Most of the toys have a dual purpose of serving as
attractive toys and providing storage space. They will be a wonderful addition
to our classrooms and playrooms. We received the following items: All Star
Flag Football # 980 (2 units), Crawl'n Climb Play Center # 360D (2 units), Kid's
Castle Play Center & Toy Box # 1220E (1 unit), Kid's Castle Play Center & Toy
Box # 1220D (2 units), 2 Mega Storage Stools # 924E (2 units). We always wanted
such toys for our children but could not afford them.
We express our sincere gratitude to Farra Design Center and the Rotary Club -
Baada for this generous donation. We also express our thanks to Mrs. Nada
Khawaja who was the liaison person who included our school on the recipients
list of those very valuable Toys.
Kind Donation by Mrs. Nada Al-Khoury
Mrs. Nada Al-Khoury kindly donated US$ 300 for our St. Luke's program. Due to the very cold weather this winter Miss Therese Khoury was emphasizing the need for carpets in our classrooms to keep our children warm. The donation was a very nice surprise as it was very timely. We will use this donation to get some carpets for our classrooms. We express our sincere gratitude to Mrs. Nada Al-Khoury for her very kind donation.
MECO Cyprus Office Sends Us A Versapoint Braille Embosser
Mr. David Judson sent BLESSED a Versapoint Braille embosser. The embosser was used in the MECO (Middle East Christian Outreach) office in Cyprus, but as it was no more needed Mr. Judson kindly sent to our school. The embosser which is of substantial size and weight was kindly brought to Lebanon and delivered to our school. It will certainly be very useful to us as we only had one machine in our school. The software driver we installed for embossing Arabic Braille imposed some restriction on embossing Braille in English. The extra embosser will be dedicate to embossing Braille in the English language without the restrictions that were imposed on us by the Arabic software drivers. We express our sincere gratitude to MECO and Mr. David Judson for their kindness and support.
St. Lukes Children Celebrate Christmas
Children of our St. Luke's program celebrated Christmas on Thursday 22 November 2005. They had worked hard with their teachers to prepare the nice program they performed. They sang, danced, and had a wonderful time. The climax of the program was when they received the Christmas presents and sweets. At the end of the program a group of students from LESGB (Lebanon Evangelical School for Girls and Boys) - Louweizeh arrived to BLESSED. They sang Christmas carols to our students and children and later distributed the Christmas presents they kindly brought with them. Every child and student received at least two gifts which was very generous. We want to express our sincere gratitude to the students of LESGB for their visit and kind gifts. We also want to inform them that Nadine also ended up with two presents. We located her second present after they left with those of the absent students. Many thanks again and we wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Christmas Celebration for the Bartimaeus Program
Students of the Bartimaeus program celebrated Christmas in a service of lessons and carols on Wednesday 21 December 2005. Everyone participated in a lovely service that brought the Christmas joy to all. Elie Deeb, a former student, joined us for the Christmas program and he contributed to the music by playing the violin. Tony played the violin and oud (local music instrument). Randa, Dunya, Anie, Nadeen, and Fady sang a Christmas carol each, and the other students participated in reading the lessons. Mr. Mikhael Haddad gave the Christmas message. Sabah prepared a delicious lunch for the occasion which everyone very much enjoyed. We express our thanks to all the students and teachers who worked hard to prepare this lovely program.
Parents Lend a Helping Hand
More parents are lending a helping hand to BLESSED through generous donation. Mr. Lahd kindly brought presents to all the children as she does every year. Mrs. Rbeiz kindly donated LBP 150,000 towards the Christmas presents the school gets to all the children. Mrs. Denise Barakat (General Antoine Barakat Foundation) kindly donated US$ 300. Mrs Kallab kindly donated LBP 1,000,000 to help our school. We were greatly moved by those very kind gestures of parents of our children who are not only appreciating our work but also extending a helping hand. We express our most sincere gratitude to them all.
Anglican Christmas Bazaar
BLESSED participated in the Anglican Christmas Bazaar which was held in the Anglican Church Hall on Saturday 10 December 2005. Randa, Leonard, and Karam went with bread, scones, other bakery items, and items for both the cane and wool workshops. They sold bakery products and woolen and cane items. We express our sincere gratitude to Mrs. Aweida and the women's group of all Saints' Anglican church for inviting BLESSED to their annual bazaar and for their kind support.
AWC Holiday Bazaar 2005
Our school participated in the Holiday Bazaar 2005 organized by the American Women's Club of Lebanon at the Beirut Coral Beach Hotel on December 4, 2005. We were able to display products from our workshops made by children of the St. Luke's program and students of the Bartimaeus program. We sold many items from both the wool and can workshop as well as products form Leonard's Bakery. Randa, Leonard, Christine and Karam were at our table all day. We express our gratitude to AWC of Lebanon for organizing this bazaar.
MECO & Hillou's Timely Donations
We received a second kind donation from MECO of US$ 808 which was very timely. We were having a serious cash flow problem as the Ministry of Social Affairs changed it payment schedule and LES was in the process of providing us the cash we need. We returned to school on Wednesday 23 November 2005 after the Independence Day holiday facing a very serious cash flow problem. Leonard walked into the office with the very kind donation form MECO. He was later followed by Mrs. Laure Hillou, a very dear friend of our school, who gave us a donations from different members of the Hillou family totaling LBP 250.000. Both donations were most timely as they provided us the cash we badly needed until LES sends us money. We praise God for his amazing and wonderful care, and we thank MECO and the Hillou family for being the hands of God helping us out of a desperate situation. The Donation from MECO in addition to the previous one received, will eventually go towards buying the heavy duty dishwasher we need for our kitchen.
Dr. Perry Shaw with a Presbyterian Group
Dr. Perry Shaw along with a Presbyterian group from the United States comprising of Rev. Dale Johnson, Rev. Mike Griffin, Mr. Tim Stafford, and Mr. Dave Johnson visited Blessed on Friday 11 November 2005. Leonard showed them around the school .They later met Rev. Haddad who shared with them the future vision for the school. We thank Dr. Shaw and the Presbyterian group for their visit.
2nd BibleLands' Visit
Nigel Edward-Few along with Dr Ros Davies and Mrs. Irene Dorrett visited BLESSED on Wednesday 2nd November 2005. Unfortunately the students and children were at home for the Al-Fitr holiday, but the BibleLands group were able to go around the school and see all the wonderful projects that were implemented over the last five years with grants kindly donated by BibleLands. They were able to see the total transformation in our school. Nigel, Ros, and Irene met Rev. George Haddad, Leonard Campbell, Randa and Edmond. Sincere thanks were expressed to the group for the wonderful partnership with BibleLands that was the major factor behind the continuity and development of BLESSED.
Kind Donation from MECO
Leonard returned from attending the retreat of MECO (Middle East Christian Outreach) in Dhour Chweir (14-16 October 2005) with a cheque of US$ 1500. This very kind donation will be reserved for buying a heavy duty industrial dishwasher for our kitchen. We express our sincere gratitude to MECO for this grant and for their partnership and support of our school.
BibleLands' Group Visits BLESSED
Mo Burnley, BibleLands' head of overseas operations,
along with Christine Gallagher (member of staff) and Joanna Robertson (trustee)
visited BLESSED on Thursday 6 October 2005. They were able to see the wonderful
transformation achieved through the generous and kind grants from BibleLands;
the latest of which were the new bus, the Visio Braille system, and the drinking
water filtration system. They visited the classrooms and interacted with the
children and the teachers. They later had lunch with students of the Bartimaeus
program. They met with Rev. Haddad who shared with them the challenges facing
BLESSED and the future vision for the school. We express our thanks to Mo,
Christine, and Joanna for taking the time in their busy schedule to visit us and
we express to BibleLands our sincere gratitude for the wonderful partnership
with our school.
School Trip for St. Luke's Children
The older children of the St. Luke's program went on October 5th 2005 for a school trip to the Bikaa valley. They visited Kasatly factory and Teanayel farm. A former teacher of BLESSED, Mrs. Berta Bijani who now lives in the Bikaa valley, met Miss Therese and the children and accompanied them through the day. The children had lots of fun and a very educating day.
Mr. Pierre Asmar's Surprise Donation
As Leonard Campbell was back, Monday October 3 was a good time to do some shopping for the few extra items that are needed at the bakery. Extra pans were needed, and Leonard, Suheil and Rev. Haddad went to Solarco for them. They went to Mr. Salah Bou Metri's office where another customer, Mr. Pierre Asmar, owner of Asmar Medical Company, was buying certain equipment for a convent of Maronite sisters. The pans are expensive and the price for the ten required is 400 US$. Solarco always gives a good discount to BLESSED, and Mr. Bou Metri informed Rev. Haddad that after the discount the price will be 250 US$. Although it was the first time that Rev. Haddad and Leonard ever met Mr. Asmar, and it was the first time for him to hear about BLESSED, he pulled two hundred US$ from his wallet, and addressed Mr. Bou Metri saying: "I will pay for the pans and you must accept this amount." Everyone was surprised by this wonderful and very kind gesture. Mr. Bou Metri said: "the most discount I can make under company regulations is 236 US$ for the pans." Mr. Asmar answered him: "I donated 200 US$, you pay the 36 US$ and let them have the pans they need." And so it was! Leonard and Rev. Haddad left Solarco with the ten pans having acquired a new dear friend who promised to visit BLESSED with his wife soon. We praise God for continuing to surprise us with wonderful Christian charity and love, and we express our most sincere gratitude to Mr. Pierre Asmar and Mr. Salah Bou Metri for their wonderful Christian spirit and superb kindness and generosity.
Leonard Is Back
Our mission volunteer from the Windsor Baptist Church - Belfast, Mr. Leonard Campbell, returned for a third year of volunteer work at BLESSED. He arrived on Saturday 1st October 2005 having spent the month of September in Belfast. Everyone is delighted with his return. All look forward to another fruitful year of Christian fellowship and more skillful training at the bakery.
Back to School
Monday 19 September 2005 was the first day of school for the academic year 2005/2006. The children and students returned after the long summer holiday. It was a very busy day of great excitement. The Bartimaeus students were checking in receiving keys to lockers, bedding, and towels. The St. Luke's teachers were busy coping with the excitement of the children. We had a chapel service for each program to begin the new academic year. The one for the St. Luke's children was supposed to be held the next day on Tuesday, but the children insisted on a chapel service the first day. One of our new children who was expected to give the teachers a difficult time amazed everyone by blending in so peacefully. Her mother was amazed when she saw her having lunch with the other children. She said: "lunch at home is so difficult. I cannot believe that she is eating." It was a very happy beginning with many blessings; Praise God!
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