Various individuals, organizations and companies around Gainesville are fundraising to build a school for Deaf children in Qalqilya, Palestine.
In an effort to raise $350,000, the UF Signing Gators, an on-campus organization that teaches students about Deaf culture and communication, hopes to give Deaf children in Palestine an education beyond a ninth-grade level.
This an ongoing project, and they currently have $7,900. There is a link on the Build a Deaf School website for people to donate.
Sarah Reichert, Signing Gators event coordinator and a UF telecommunication senior, said she wants to raise awareness for the Deaf children in Palestine to give them better opportunities as they grow up.
“We as UF students — little nobodies if you will — have the opportunity to make a difference to people halfway across the world,” Reichert, 22, said.
Steve Kalishman, the president of Sister City Program of Gainesville, visited Qalqilya in 2010 and left with the intention of increasing the level of education and giving students new facilities.
“If we raise the $350,000, they’ll have everything they need to build a brand new, state-of-the-art facility, and have all their operational expenses covered,” Kalishman said.
This facility is the only Deaf school in Palestine and one of a few in the entire Middle East. Kalishman said if a new one was to be constructed, people of Palestine and all around the world would visit to show support.
“We’re not only helping them build a building, but to create a self-sustaining program and to allow our students and teachers over here to work with them in the future on all kinds of collaborative projects,” Kalishman said.
Reichert and Kalishman said they urge UF students to visit the website and donate anything they can.
“It just absolutely blows my mind that I have the power to make a difference in somebody’s life that I have no plans to ever meet,” Reichert said. “A little person can make a big difference.”
[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 2/23/2015 under the headline “UF Signing Gators rally to contribute to Deaf school-building"]