Members of Ma’an lil-Hayat make felted-wool ornaments, nativity sets, and other gift items from the wool of Bethlehem sheep. The raw wool is purchased from women in villages on the outskirts of Bethlehem.
The activities and production at Ma’an lil-Hayat are not ends in themselves but are a means toward the healthy integration of people with intellectual disabilities into the local community as well as an aid to changing the vision of society toward people with disabilities. We believe that all people, whether disabled or not, have capacities and abilities that enable them to make a unique contribution to society, regardless of their differences. We respect and welcome difference, which is a way to experience mutual enrichment. We are transformed in a positive way through sharing life together – our gifts, our joys, our suffering, our dreams.
Ma’an lil-Hayat seeks to affirm and empower people with intellectual disabilities in their claim to adulthood. Meaningful, challenging activities encourage a sense of personal responsibility and genuine participation in the building of civil society.
A variety of experiences and activities aid in fostering the development of self-esteem, the ability to make choices, the active participation in a learning environment, and the development of creative skills. Ma’an lil-Hayat encourages its members to discover and share their talents and abilities, to become more aware of the needs and realities of other people, to work as part of a team, and to acquire a greater sense of personal and communal responsibility.
The participation of members with intellectual disabilities in making high-quality beautiful handicrafts enables them to experience the joy of artistic creativity and the social recognition it attracts. Our members with disabilities are unable, because of their disability and the lack of support within the Palestinian community at large, to be employed in ordinary workplaces. Therefore, the sheltered environment provided at Ma’an lil-Hayat responds to their specific needs and offers a way for them to have a more “normal” adult routine that fosters a greater sense of self-respect and dignity.
Engaging parents and families of people with disabilities
Although Ma’an lil-Hayat is not a parents’ association, the relationships with families of people with intellectual disabilities are an essential part of the overall vision. Ma’an lil-Hayat seeks to ensure the continuity of this link and to encourage its evolution towards an adult-to-adult relationship between the person with a disability and his/her family.