The Effeta Paul VI Institute, Bethlehem is a special needs school for the audio-phonetic rehabilitation of deaf children resent in the Palestinian Territories. The main aims of the Institute are training and preparing students to face society with the understanding that deafness in not an obstacle for personal achievement in civil society.
The school was established in Bethlehem, when the Pope Paul VI visited the Holy Land in 1964. During his visit, his Holiness noticed that there were plenty of deaf children from Bethlehem, who were not getting the assistance and education they needed. He then expressed his willingness to establish an educational institute for their rehabilitation and education.
The name of the institute refers to a passage in the Holy Gospel, according to Saint Mark (7, 32 – 37) which says: “Some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him: “Ephpheta!” which means “Be opened”. At this, the man’s ears were opened. His tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.”
In Palestine, the problem of congenital deafness has a very high incidence and affects thousands of children. Since 1971, the Effeta Paul VI Institute allows approximately 180 children in need of assistance and education each year, to be able to listen and speak.
In 2022, at the bequest of one of its members the Lieutenancy of Ireland generously donated the sum of €1,000 towards operational costs.