Lydia Mansour’s hands don’t stop moving as she
talks. Blinded at the age of 2 after a bout of measles, Mansour is the
director and founder of the Peace Center for the Blind
in Jerusalem. As she speaks about the center and its work, she prepares
yarn tassels for shawls some of the students have crocheted. With
surprising dexterity Mansour—who declined to reveal her age but admits
to being 60 plus—quickly winds the burgundy yarn around a small board
and then cuts through the accumulated bundle with a scissors.
|Lydia Mansour, the director of the Peace Center for the Blind,
Jerusalem, knits baby clothing that will be sold to raise money for the
school. The center provides vocational and academic studies to about 30
A graduate and former director of the Helen Keller School
for the blind in Bethlehem, Mansour established the Peace Center
in 1983 after the school’s adult rehabilitation facilities were closed.
She began with a budget of $200 gleaned from door-to-door donations.
The budget has since grown to $110,000. Mansour said all U.S.-based donations come from Lutheran organizations, including the ELCA
and the Lutheran-founded International Partners in Mission
, an interfaith nonprofit organization. Other donors include Christoffel Blindenmission
from Germany and the English-speaking ministry of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
have been so good to us,” said Mansour, whose petite frame, small hands
and gentle voice belie her strength and determination. “So many friends
from the ELCA have kept up with us since the beginning.”
30 young women with varying degrees of blindness come to the center
every day for vocational and living-skills training and for academic
studies, including Braille in English, Arabic and Hebrew.
the center most of the women would be left to sit at home alone.
Instead the young women are taught—mostly by blind teachers who serve
as role models—handicraft skills in hand and machine knitting, sewing
and weaving. Their sweaters, scarves, baby blankets, shawls and vests
are sold at modest prices at the center and craft bazaars. The small
amount of money they raise goes to the center, which provides center
graduates with a small salary.
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