As Jesus went on his way two blind men followed him shouting, Take pity on us, Son of David. (Matthew 9:27)
Blindness has been a continual problem in the Gaza Strip for years. A major reason for this is severe Vitamin-A deficiency in the inadequate diets of the refugees who inhabit this area.
Gaza, called the strip because of its shape, is a piece of land which comprises the southern part of the coastal plain of Palestine, and is approximately 20 miles long by 5 miles at its broadest point. Of the 400,000 inhabitants, almost 270,000 are registered refugees.
Before 1962, when the Catholic Near East Welfare Association provided funds to build the Gaza Center for the Blind, the only means of livelihood available to the sightless was begging.
Today, not a blind begger can be seen in the Strip. Every male graduate of the Center has found employment, while the Centers cooperative workshop employs young women graduates.
The hunger of the blind for training which will free them to support themselves, as well as their hunger for understanding, find fulfillment at the Center which at present can accommodate 75 pupils.
The Center at Gaza consists of three units: The School provides education for six years and some of its graduates have been able to attend regular schools and even Universities. A Vocational Training Department instructs students in cane working, brush and mat making, rug and pile carpet making, and hand and machine knitting. A Shelter Workshop allows females a place to live and an opportunity to earn a living which otherwise would not be available, since in existing cultural and political circumstances, few women are able to go out to work.
The Center is for day pupils only, which means transportation must be provided. Before the Six Day War in 1967, the Center had its own bus, but it disappeared in all the confusion. Some pupils must now walk long distances over rugged terrain to reach the Center. Others cannot attend because of the lack of transport, since funds for a new bus have not been available.
If a man who was rich enough in this worlds goods saw that one of his brothers was in need, but closed his heart to him, how could the love of God be living in him? (1 John 3:17)