We Palestinians wake up every day to learn and to teach life to one another and to the rest of the world. We try not to worry about financial sources because we know that God provides. We dream–not only for ourselves but for others; for the poor, children and disabled people. We search for those who are in need so that we may help them and we watch how God provides more and more. Would you like to meet a local Bethlehem ministry doing a great work for “the least of these”?
The Beginning of the Story…
Al Basma Center was founded in 1987, after studying some of the most pressing needs of society. The society’s founder, Basma Giacaman found that there is shortage of organizations that help disabled youth and adults. Al-Basma Center began as a modest project to provide services to five disabled youth and young adults in the politically-conflicted area of the West Bank. The Society is associated with the Arab Women’s Union in Beit Sahour, part of Greater Bethlehem in the West Bank.
Their Mission and Goals
Basma Giacaman made sure to give this organization a meaningful name—her own name—“Al Basma” which means “smile.” Thus, the very name itself causes us to remember that the organization exists to create a smile on the faces of disabled youth
The center had grown steadily. It is now serving 33 youth and young adults with moderate special needs, while also employing five workers who assist in taking care of the patrons—but the real magic of the place is found in its tireless founder, Ms. Giacaman, and her seemingly endless supply of creative ideas. As a non-profit organization with no specific religious or political affiliations, it stands as one of the leading ministries of its kind in this area.
One of the goals of the society is to build bridges of peace between the handicapped and non-handicapped in the community. In the past, many parents have been ashamed or felt unequipped to properly care for their special needs children. Al-Basma strives to bridge this gap by providing educational services to parents and especially by striving to create for their students a sense of pride and equality with their peers through the products they make and skills they master. The result is an overall growth of personal confidence in young adults who previously suffered isolation and rejection.
Services and Programs
Special needs students at the Center work with their talented hands to produce many things such as: olive wood carvings; recycling old scraps of paper into special hand-crafted sheets of paper; production of fuel blocks from recycled materials; production of olive oil soap; and loom weaving. The Center has many additional programs such as the Greenhouse program, which includes recycling and compost -and drama/music program, through which the students perform locally and internationally.
In 2015, they produced an original Christmas play, which surely brought a smile to the face of Jesus: Depicting Joseph and Mary in a modern setting and struggling to get past various checkpoints in the Bethlehem area, the storyline closed with world leaders, Obama, Netanyahu, and Abbas coming to worship the newborn King.
How Al-Basma Supports Itself
In order to operate and grow, Al Basma relies on individual and organizational contributions, as well as proceeds from the sale of handmade crafts.
If you ask Basma Giacaman what her dream is, she will tell you it is to build a bigger center to accommodate the needs of today and tomorrow. Full of passion to bring dignity, hope, and joy to the developmentally disabled, Ms. Giacaman’s hope is to continue to demonstrate to others that the sky is the limit when it comes to creative leadership and the capacity of the special needs population to contribute in a significant and meaningful way to society.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6: 8
Because The Lord requires us to do so, and because helping one in need is helping The Lord himself, the Center will continue to help this special population and to put a smile on their faces.
BBC carries some of Al-Basma’s items in our gift shop, including a handmade Christmas card which is part of our special Christmas 2015 catalogue: http://bethbc.org/sites/default/files/documents/Christmas-Catalogue.pdf
Please visit our gift shop to purchase items in support of this worthy ministry.
Amira is the Communications Coordinator of Bethlehem Bible College. She is a committed Palestinian Christian who has a passion for writing about the intersection of faith and seeking justice for her fellow countrymen. To read more of her writings sign up for Bethlehem Bible College’s monthly newsletter.