"Hearing impairment is not an obstacle to a person's development."


Viola Nouhi, March 2023


"Hearing impairment is not an obstacle to a person's development."


Sister Ginetta begins her narrative this way, welcoming us to Effeta in the afternoon when the school is mostly empty, and only a few girls remain for the after-school session, receiving her undivided attention.


She promptly shows us around the school and the creations of the students. Between tasks, she tells us how proud she is of these children, their dedication, and the evolution of the school, which she has closely witnessed during her 47 years of dedication to the Institute. Since 1971, Effeta has been dedicated to educating deaf children. Initially, they assisted these children in their elementary education and professional courses. In the early years of the new millennium, they expanded their educational offerings, eventually offering a complete educational program in line with Palestinian regulations in 2014.


Sister Ginetta, now an art teacher, played an important role in this transformation: "For me, there was a sudden change of role, from a professional seamstress to an artist, which was no small feat!" However, what shines through Sister Ginetta's eyes makes it clear that this challenge has become a source of great pride for her and the children themselves, who have discovered their abilities.


As she emphasizes, it is crucial to support deaf children: "Deaf individuals need to be nurtured with patience and perseverance. These children are often misunderstood." In recounting her own story, Sister Ginetta explains how she is often referred to as the "most demanding teacher." Amidst the emotion and personal stories that resurface, she confesses an awareness of these children's limits and the importance of encouraging them: "I push them because I know that today's hard work will bring them great satisfaction tomorrow."


Sister Ginetta herself is deaf, so her empathy with the children's stories goes beyond mere understanding – she has lived them! She understands the challenges these young ones face every day because their difficulties were once her own. They accompanied her throughout her journey, and they were certainly not few. "Life has been my teacher," she whispers with emotion. "It has required effort and sacrifice!" But thanks to the love and perseverance of her parents, Sister Ginetta was able to attend mandatory schools. However, as she emphasizes, times were different, and she only received her first hearing aid at the age of 14. Fortunately, children at Effeta can receive the necessary support after just a few years of life, which brings her great joy.


In the Holy Land, where hearing impairment is prevalent, there is a growing understanding of the importance of neonatal screening and speech education for deaf children. "Learning to speak without relying on sign language, which is very limiting, is crucial," Sister Ginetta emphasizes, adding, "We must also thank the patience of Effeta's speech therapists who care for the children with extreme diligence and empathy."


As you may have gathered, Sister Ginetta's life has been dedicated to the school's children; she has watched them grow one by one. "Being in Bethlehem has been tremendously important to me and holds immense value. I've realized how important it is to be loved," she says. Love has never been lacking at Effeta. Sister Ginetta has been a teacher to these children, and they have been teachers to her as well. "My entire being is here with them and for them, and every day, I realize that it's the children who guide me toward growth, creativity. It's being with them, living with them continuously, that helps me invent new situations, new stimuli to improve their learning."


Because "Hearing impairment MUST NOT be an obstacle to a person's development."

Sister Ginetta's word.