The Peace Center for the Blind is an educational and vocational organization in East Jerusalem serving underprivileged visually impaired women from Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The Center was founded in 1983 by Lydia Mansour with a donation of $200 and an initial enrollment of 4 students. Miss Lydia, as she is known by staff and students, lost her sight at the age of two due to measles, and has been a tireless advocate for the blind and visually impaired in Palestine for many years.
The Peace Center is unique in its holistic approach to education: members are educated not only in academic subjects and vocational skills, but are also trained in self-care, hygiene, health practices, home-economics, mobility and other practical life skills. This is accomplished through mentoring relationships with instructors who are also visually impaired, and students are given hands-on experience in all of these areas while living and working together with several faculty and staff in a shared boarding house facility. The overall goal of all of these programs is to teach students independence, self-confidence, the ability to become productive members of their communities.
Most members come from families who are at or below poverty levels and have limited educational and work opportunities, partly due to the social and cultural stigma associated with blind family members. Boarding is provided free of charge for students from the West Bank, for whom travel between Jerusalem and the West Bank via military checkpoints is particularly difficult. Tuition is free for all students along with room and board.