From the Rev Mark Pexton of Leven Baptist Church
THE last time I wrote this ‘Reflections’ column, I shared how a team of eight of us from our church were about to go to Beirut in Lebanon to work alongside a church there.
Well, we have now been and have returned with so many memories and stories. I would like to share one of them with you, which has inspired me.
One of the things we learned was that, to date, there is very little provision for those with special needs in Lebanon.
The options for families have really been to look after their special needs children at home or to put them into institutions.
There was a sense that families who had children with special needs just dealt with it quietly and alone, because there was very little help for them.
During our time in Beirut, we had the privilege of meeting a most wonderful Christian couple.
What was so inspiring about them was that, number of years ago, they gave birth to a son who was soon diagnosed with special needs.
However, rather than quietly dealing with it alone, this father went on state television and announced to the nation that he was proud of his son and he would fight for his son – to get him the best educational provision he could possibly have.
There was such a response to this television appearance, from other parents in a similar position, that this father decided they should set up a special education centre for children with special needs.
Soon it was up and running, under the name of SKILD (Smart Kids with Individual Learning Differences).
It became such a centre for excellence in the provision of education for children with special needs that the Government of Lebanon took note of this centre – and took advice from this father who set it up.
The long and short of the story is that, currently, the Lebanese Government is running a pilot scheme in four schools in Lebanon, where it is offering an integrated educational programme for children with special needs in mainstream schools.
The intention is that, if this pilot project is a success, they will write up legislation to make it law throughout the country that there needs to be an integrated educational provision for children with special needs in all mainstream schools.
They have asked this father who started the whole process to be involved in the writing up of the legislation!
All because one man stood up for what he believed was right in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
May that be an inspiration to us all to stand up for what is right and good.
‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves’ (Proverbs 31:8).