Bethlehem Rehabilitation Centre
Edmund Shehadeh directs a hospital of a staggering scale considering that the work is reliant on voluntary donations to exist at all. The focus is on mending shattered lives. All forms of disability are tackled and children in particular are given the tools to integrate into normal society. McCabe pilgrims often lunch here contributing to the work through their meal and gift shop purchases.
The Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation (BASR) began life in 1960 in an old house in Bethlehem. It was originally one of Leonard Cheshire’s homes and provided care for a few physically disabled children. After it was handed over to the Bethlehem Arab Society in 1975, the work grew and, in 1990, the Society’s dream came true when land on nearby Beit Jala hill became available and the present hospital building was constructed.
Today, BASR is a non-profit non-government organization that is nationally recognized for the comprehensive medical and rehabilitation services it gives to beneficiaries from all over Palestine. The hospital is open to all, regardless of gender, age, religion or social class and is committed to enhancing the overall quality of a patient’s life. The hospital has a holistic approach to treatment with specialist departments in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and also surgery. Integration into community life is a key objective.
An example is the way they care for children with serious injuries or disabilities. The aim is to give intensive residential treatment over a 3-6 month period, after which they return to their families. Early intervention often helps prevent more serious disability. Following their treatment, some children go on to schools for the ‘able-bodied’ and others to special schools in their local area. The results over a period of time have been to enhance the overall quality of life for hundreds of disabled children and their families, helping them to live with respect and dignity. The alternative for these children would be a severely limited existence shut away from the world with little hope for the child or parents.
Edmund Shehadeh the director writes:
“ Our goal is to change people’s attitudes towards disability so that the disabled are recognized as fellow human beings with great potential.”