Ephpheta Expands

Sami El-Yousef discusses a new development at the Ephpheta Institute.

Sami El-Yousef is CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine-Israel and advises the Sisters of St. Dorothy, who run the institute.

A few days ago, the Ephpheta Institute in Bethlehem — a program CNEWA has supported since its inception 40 years ago — celebrated the inauguration of a new expansion. The new three-story annex will host the 11th and 12th grades, in addition to a library, a new indoor play/educational room and additional storage facilities. The physical expansion of the school premises was a historic day for many reasons. Most significantly, the students at Ephpheta will no longer finish their education at 10th grade, but will complete a full educational cycle through the 12th grade, after which they will receive a high school diploma. Thus, there will be no graduation at the school this year; the 10th graders will proceed to 11th grade and will eventually graduate in 2014, much better equipped to either move on to a university education or to some other career track of their choosing. They will certainly be better equipped to meet life’s challenges with a high school diploma in hand.

Another reason why this was a historic event is that the full funding for this expansion project (around $600,000) came from a Palestinian Christian family originally from Bethlehem that now lives in the United States. These benefactors wish to remain anonymous. The family clearly did well financially in the diaspora and decided to give something back — to support this leading Christian institution, providing hope and a first-class education to over 150 deaf children in Palestine. We hope this will be encouragement to other Palestinian families to do the same.

Present at the ceremony were many dignitaries, including the Apostolic Delegate to Palestine Archbishop Antonio Franco, the mayor of Bethlehem, the Italian consul general, and representatives from the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Education and the governor’s office. All were most pleased with this development, but the people happiest of all were the students and their parents.

Congratulations to Ephpheta on this important milestone!

To learn more about the work of the Ephpheta Institute, click here. Other recent milestones include the celebration of the institute’s 40th anniversary and a pastoral visit as part of CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar’s journey to the Holy Land last year.

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