Meeting the people at L'arche in Bethlehem, Palestine

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The L’arche Center in Bethlehem, Palestine, is a day center for intellectually challenged people. Here, people over the age of 16 can come spend the day together. After morning gathering, during which they sing greetings to each person, they get to work taking washed sheep’s wool from local shepherds, dye it and felt it and create beautiful things, including purses, ornaments, gnomes, angels, nativity scenes. They are colorful and beautifully designed and well-made. This helps the shepherds, who walk their sheep and goats along roadsides, in town and in the country. But it helps a great deal the self-esteem of the people at the day center as they see people buying the things they make. They realize they are productive and their self-esteem is bolstered. In addition, the community comes to know that intellectually challenged people are to be valued. The staff also works with families, to help ┬áthem understand their children.

We got to visit the center in Bethlehem and a few of our team spent the morning with the people there, learning from them how to make wool felt — and receiving their affection.