JORDAN – In many countries in the Arab world, children with disabilities still lack equal rights and opportunities in education, not to mention the need for more specialized centers that provide care for them. Amid the closures and lockdowns that governments imposed to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, educational institutions have adopted distance learning to continue its teaching and learning process. However, alternative solutions have not been reached yet to adequately integrate children with disabilities with this remote learning system that was not catered to their needs.
Since its establishment of Our Lady of Peace Center in Jordan in 2004, the Latin Patriarchate has worked diligently to provide free care and meet the needs of children with mental and physical disabilities, between ages 5 and 14. The center offers rehabilitation services that include one-on-one care, mental and physical therapy, especially for those who suffer from autism disorder and speech impediments, in addition to providing prostheses, orthoses or assistive devices along with orthopaedic and orthotic consultations.
The center also depends on local and international volunteers, who in addition to their work at the different departments and units of the establishment, raise awareness about disabilities in the Jordanian society.
However, the center halted receiving and evaluating new applications until the end of 2020. School activities were also put on hold, but learning is still carried out and was limited to one-on-one sessions between teachers and students. The center also reduced the number of visiting people to give enough time for cleaning and disinfecting between sessions. Students who have respiratory symptoms or fever, or if their parents exhibit the same symptoms, are asked not to come in.
As the center contiues to offer its services, all employees and patients are required to abide by safety precautions. However, the work of local and international volunteers has been suspended inside the school and center due to the suspension of the volunteer program and the shutting down of the airport.
“The center depends greatly on domestic and overseas donations to sustain its work, and with the spread of the coronavirus worldwide, a lot of donors were not able to support us financially like before,” says Fr. Shawki Baterian, Director of the center in Amman. “We also had to reduce the working hours of the employees and their salary by 20%.”
“I would like to express my thanks and gratitude towards every person who supported the center and continues to offer his or her help during this pandemic,” he concluded.
Our Lady of Peace Center was only closed in the month of March and continues to this day to offer its services all while respecting the government’s regulations regarding closures and work continuity.
By: Rula Shomali
Source: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem