British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher took part on Friday in the launch of the children's book titled: 'Stories from us and About us', a project supported by the British Embassy's Bilateral Programme fund.
Ambassador Fletcher received a warm welcome by First Step Together Association (FISTA) students, the Director Reem Nashabe Mouawad and the team.
In their own words and drawings, 12 students with learning difficulties aged 12-14 years told their story expressing the difficulties they encounter in their social and academic lives and the friendships and dreams they have.
The British envoy listened first-hand to the students' experiences and passion for this project, followed by a brief presentation on 'the making of' the book. The students then handed Ambassador Fletcher a signed copy of the book with all 12 signatures.
Ambassador Fletcher's quote featured in the book reads: 'This is a book about hope amid adversity. I'm sure it will bring inspiration to everyone who reads it. These are stories told not by victims, but by heroes'.
Ambassador Fletcher was introduced to the work of FISTA and toured the premises and classrooms to hear more about their work, ranging from educational to prevocational classes and meeting a number of students.
The book is the result of a 3-day artistic workshop planned and coordinated by special education consultant Nada Barakat Khawaja. It consists of 12 short stories, each expressed by a student and written by the well-known children's authors Fatima Sharafeddine and Samar Mahfouz Barraj who conducted the workshop. The illustrations were drawn/painted/created by the children themselves with guidance from artist and graphic designer Mona Yakzan.
The book's lay-out and text are presented in a way that is accessible to children with reading difficulties. It is now available at 'Step Together' Daichounieh and at their upcoming events. It will also be made available at major libraries throughout Lebanon.
This project forms a part of the British Embassy's human rights engagement in Lebanon.