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Deaf Palestinian children overcome disability through dance

03-05-2012 11:30 BJT

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Disabilities are no obstacles for those with talent and hope from fulfilling their dreams of becoming dancers. In the Gaza Strip, deaf Palestinian children are taking to the stage at the Al Amal City Centre for Ability Development, to show that being deaf doesn’t stop them from pursuing their love for dance on stage.

A group of teenage dancers excitedly carries out last minute rehearsals ahead of their debut performance. They go through the steps repeatedly with their dance instructor, who is patiently polishing their moves step by step.

Deaf Palestinian children overcome disability through dance.

They are going to show an Arabic folk dance, "Debka", literally meaning "feet stamping". It’s popular in Middle Eastern countries, like Jordan, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority. Looking at the children, nothing would give away the fact that they’re all deaf or hearing impaired.

Soubhi Abu Alkhair, 11-year old dancer, said, "I like the Debka so much, I am happy when I’m dancing. I hope that when I grow up, I’ll be a Debka teacher and teach other children how to dance," he says.

Deaf Palestinian children overcome disability through dance.

Soubhi Abu Alkhair, an 11-year old from Khan Younis, lost his hearing when he was just 14 months old as the result of a childhood disease.

Despite his impairment, Soubhi doesn’t seem perturbed by it, and he has a great passion for his extra-curricular activity.

He tries hard to emulate his instructor, 26-year old Mouamen Khalif, who turned his passion into his profession when he became the centre’s dance teacher.

Khalif teaches deaf children from kindergarten to secondary school age. He said he has talents connecting with his special students using sign and body language.

Mouamen Khalif, dance teacher, said, "Deaf children are very clever and they have high powers of comprehension. But we do face some problems of how to associate the movement with the music. But we can solve these problems by clapping or counting to reach a point with the children where they can understand us and perform in a beautiful way."

And he said it is the city center provides him and deaf children a chance to fulfil their dreams of dancers. The center was established in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis in 1995, with support from the Palestinian Authority and the International Red Cross.

It sees communication as an important tool, and strives to raise awareness of how people with hearing disabilities are just as intelligent and capable of understanding as anyone else. Children are thrilled by the dance, though it is not a simple process for them to pick up the steps at the first.

Marwa Abu Khader, 16-year old dancer, said, "When our teacher is gesturing in Sign Language, counting the steps: one, two, three, we have to look at him, so we will know the dance moves."

Born deaf, Marwa was brought to the centre as a baby, when she was just one year old. Currently, some 350 children aged between six and fifteen are enrolled in the program.

In addition to dance classes, the centre offers other activities, like sport, art, music and drama. And along with its library and computer facilities, it helps children with disabilities integrate better into society.

Editor:Zhang Dan |Source: CNTV.CN

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