I seem to have a sort of theme going. First I wrote about handing out Christmas boxes in late February. Then I wrote about getting Christmas presents in March. Today’s topic? More Christmas boxes, in April.

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On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to visit a handicapped center to pass out some more Christmas boxes. You might think, “but we are nowhere near Christmas” and of course you’d be right, but since Christmas is not officially celebrated here, it’s really a moot point. And ask any recipient if they care about getting a box of presents wrapped in red and green when the calendar says April. They will not answer you because they will be too focused on that box to listen to you.

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I went with my friend and her family. They were there officially; I was just tagging along for fun. (No PMS this time either, in case you’re wondering) I brought my camera, even though I have a special sixth sense that causes my subjects to move just as I click the button. Makes for some quality snaps, let me tell you.

The place was pretty remarkable. The director of the project told me a little of his story; he attended this school as a child, when it was just a primary school, and always retained a soft spot for it. (Aside: do you retain soft softs for your primary school or schools? I don’t think I do actually. Yet I had a happy childhood) He was saddened to find it was now one of the worst schools in the city. So he …worked with his association? Set up an association?… and has brought about enormous change. Within four years, the courtyard has been transformed from a place of sand and pebbles to an inviting green space, lush with flowers and scattered with art made from recycled and found objects; broken tagine pots, curiously-shaped sticks, etc.

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There’s a large section where there are animals; turkeys and ducks, a baby donkey, many different sheep and goats, guinea pigs, doves, parakeets, even a Dalmatian.

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The director explained that the handicapped children work with petting, feeding and caring for the animals, which provides them important motor skills. But the “normal” kids, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds and struggle with behavioral issues, also benefit greatly from caring for the animals. “It helps them become good human beings, good citizens,” explains the director. (Yes, I’m wondering why I didn’t get his name also).

The school is for nursery age, 2 or so, up through primary school. Kids are integrated in the younger classes, although there are special classes for the older handicapped kids. There’s also occupational therapy, where they learn skills such as painting and making silk flowers, rug weaving and pottery. This is used by all the children.

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I have a million pictures. Do you want to look at a million pictures? Doubtful. I will show self control.

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Saying thanks with a kiss.

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This little guy has one glass eye.

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Naptime! Two little ones snuggle in a bottom bunk.

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After I took pictures of these two, I showed them their faces on the back of my digital camera. Look at the results:

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