Regional Coordinator: Fadi el Halabi
The first Consultation took place in June, 2006 in Beirut, Lebanon with the aim of seeking a partnership between church leaders and persons with disabilities in the region. There were 18 persons from Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Armenia and Palestine who looked at the how inclusive the churches were to people with disability in the Middle East. Some of the participants especially those representing their churches were surprised at the inaccessibility in most of their churches which was highlighted as the main reason most of the persons with disabilities were not attending church services. The participants from the Orthodox tradition recommended that for the church leaders to become more aware of the needs facing them, a visit to the heads of churches be the starting point. As a followup to this, in March 2008, a delegation of persons with disability visited the heads of churches that were based in Lebanon to seek their partnership and to be allowed to have discussions with their theological institutions on how to introduce disability studies.
The second Consultation took place in October 2009 in Egypt under the theme: “from a charitable perspective to a rights perspective.” The meeting was attended by 35 persons with disabilities and other people working in the church in the area of disability from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq the Middle East. The church institutions represented in the meeting confirmed that they would facilitate processes to include disability studies and encourage their faculty members to have interactions with persons with disabilities.
The third Consultation in the region was held in Beirut, Lebanon and took place in December 2011. The participants committed themselves to initiating theological discourse on disability and came up with a draft curriculum which was was discussed. The course was examinable as both a certificate course or a diploma course to be taught in these institutions. The instructors promised to look at the possibility of promoting the inclusion of the disability in the future academic curriculum of theological institutes in Lebanon through the infusion method.
The Colleges that have attended these meetings have been:
The Antonine Thetological Institute;
the Armenian Orthodox Seminary in Bekfaya;
the Near East School of Theology and
St. Paul Institute of Philosophy and Theology
A partial curricullum is being taught at Antonine Theological College.