‘Ms. Lydia’, as she is affectionately called, lost her sight as a result of measles when she was 2 years old. She well-knows the double-discrimination that women and girls with disabilities face and, having spent most of her life as a Palestinian Christian in Jerusalem, she has lived amidst the myriad of difficulties of that region.
Ms. Lydia’s dream was to provide a place for learning and a place to belong for underserved women from Jerusalem and West Bank. Starting with $200 that she raised going door-to-door, she opened the Peace Center for the Blind in 1984. The organization has grown from 4 students to a capacity of 50. Women (and now some men) are taught everything from basic living skills to marketable skills (weaving, sewing, broom and stool-making), and the participants leave empowered and as living witness for equal rights for all those living with disabilities. No tuition is charged, and boarding is free for West Bank students, as borders between West Bank and Jerusalem are very difficult for Palestinians to do on a daily basis.
The Center promotes tolerance and understanding in region that often lacks that. It is a place of interfaith education where Muslims and Christians can work and study together. Despite of, or perhaps because of the lack of sight, Ms. Lydia and the Peace Center for the Blind are showing that many obstacles can be overcome.
For today, reflect on the spirit of Ms. Lydia with her own words: “Every child has to be given a chance to prove what they can do. Some people are going to b e very successful, others not, it has nothing to do with blindness at all, but I believe that everybody should be given an opportunity.“
Want to know more about Ms. Lydia or the Peace Center for the Blind?