October, 2008 Dear Friends of Bethlehem,
A lot has happened in the past few months here at Bethlehem Foundation. Most recently we held our Board of Directors meeting. I was shocked to see our financial report. From January to the end of August this year, Bethlehem Foundation and our North District Developmental Center are 2.27 million NT in the hole. The Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Education have approved gifts of over seven hundred thousand dollars, but they have yet to pay us. There is so much more we would like to do this year to improve our environment, but we dare not do so until we get more funds. We really need your help in telling others about our needs so that we can continue to help more infants and young children with a developmental delay.
We really should start a “Child Find” Program. The majority of the children we serve with early intervention are over three years of age. But the golden age for helping infants is to start with those who are under three years of age. We are in the pocess of trying to get a funding agency to help with a van that can be equipped with various equipment and material along with assessment devices that will help find such infants, but we will still need funding to buy those items, along with the cost of running the van. Please help us.
We now have a fifth teacher in our early intervention program, as last semester we had to tell some parents to wait until we had more room. Hopefully, we can help each and every child who comes to us this year.
We started our new semester on August 11th, the exact same day that the Ministry of the Interior sent an evaluation team to see how well we are doing. It will be some time before we receive the official results, but I am hopeful that the report will be a very positive one. We definitely have improved a great deal since the last evaluation three years ago. Many thanks are due to our staff members who spent many extra hours in preparing all the various documents and materials called for in the evaluation. And many thanks are due to you, our benefactors, for helping us to reach so many children.
I was very fortunate in being able to travel to Cape Town in South Africa in late August and early September to attend the conference of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities (IASSID). I am a member of that organization and have been to previous conferences that are held every four years. This was the first time they held a meeting in Africa. I meet many old friends each conference I attend, and make some new ones as well. I am hopeful that I have an agreement to send some of our staff members overseas to learn how they conduct early intervention. We shall see. But we still will need funds to cover the cost of transportation for them to and from that country.
You may notice that this is the 41st issue of our newsletter. With four issues per year, that makes for over ten years of publications that we have sent to you. Each issue we have a number of articles written by our staff members. Recently we have started a contest to see which articles receive the best response from you our audience. The first ten people to respond receive a small prize. This time we have articles from one of our five early interventionists, from one of our teachers in our special class, one from a teacher in our smallest class of two year olds, an article about our graduates holding an overnight in Taiwan Poetry Road, as well as one from our nutritionist, as well as this article from me. Which one do you like the best? You can see the names of those who won prizes after our previous newsletter.
Lastly I do wish to thank you for your care and concern for infants and young children with a developmental delay. Our day program includes regular children as they are important to our efforts to have children with a delay accepted in the community. Without acceptance our efforts would be in vain. Over the many years that I have worked in the field of education I have seen a great change in attitudes. Whereas previously most children with a moderate to a severe disability were rejected by the community and society at large, not even being able to attend schools, now you can see many people with various kinds of disabilities in the community. Inclusive education is thus a necessity if we are to really accept everyone no matter who they are or what their abilities may be. Please join us in this effort to change the world we live in and help us to make it a better place to live in for each and every human being. May God bless you for your love and acceptance of others.