Dima Foundation Newsletter 2 (2009)

Friday, April 10, 2009

DIMA Foundation – Newsletter #2 April 2009

Fri 10th April 2009

This is the second of a series of annual newsletters to provide you with an update on what has been happening with the DIMA Foundation – a school for children with Special Needs and Learning Difficulties in Najaf, Iraq.

Consolidation of initial success

You will recall that September 2007 saw the opening of the DIMA Foundation School with an initial class size of 12, but after phenomenal enquiry, within the balance of the school year the number of children who had enrolled reached 72.

We were clearly delighted about this initial success, but equally felt that it was more than the modest resources of the school could bear on an ongoing basis and still offer a quality experience for each of the children. Therefore at the end of the 2007-2008 school year, we divided the children into those who might ‘graduate’ onto the local mainstream Iraqi schools and those who would most benefit most from the type of educational experience we could offer at the DIMA School.

Indeed, at the end of year ceremony – hosted by Dr Essa, Principal of Kufa University – all the children received graduation certificates for the year, but only 43 were enlisted to go onto the following year at the DIMA School. Twenty-seven were enrolled in the local mainstream schools and two of the original seventy-two, suffering from severe mental and physical health conditions, were actually earmarked for intensive social care in the home.

The 43 continuing at the DIMA School, all aged 6-12 years, are now split into 3 classes, and the kids are taught an adapted curriculum of Arabic language, arithmetic, religious studies, physical education, music and art. The teaching method is somewhat adapted from that taught in the mainstream schools as well, with an emphasis on multiple repetition in the younger class to teach numbers and syllables and then words and sentences. The older two classes can focus a little more on human and social development on top of the basics.

Pupil Profile

In the above picture, seated in the wheelchair is Zahra, who is 12 years old. Her father is a taxi driver and her mother a teacher. She is severely disabled and has problems speaking and swallowing, as well as moving her wheelchair around. The other kids of the class are more than happy to help her out, pushing her wheelchair and fetching things for her. Apparently, since starting the DIMA School in 2007, she has not missed a day at class and is happier than ever before, as described by her delighted parents. In the last year, she has managed to learn some songs and memorise some short stories. Zahra is exactly the reason we started the DIMA initiative.

Regular contributors

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank those who have regularly contributed to the DIMA Foundation in the last couple of years, especially Ferrie Al-Chalabi, Dan and Kate Childs, Andrew Farrimond, Ben Fenby and Zena and Ali Al-Mausawe along the many others of you have kindly donated to the charity over the last three years.

Local Sponsorship

Kufa University in Iraq and the regional government authorities in Najaf have also engaged with the School in last year and we continue to explore ways in which they can contribute to the resources of the school. Kufa University for example has contributed to the purchase of teaching aids, pin boards, white and black boards, as well as finding the 4 teachers who run the school.


Our website is still up and running, maintained by our sister, Noor Al-Lamee (aged 15) . For the most up to date information on ways to get involved with the DIMA Foundation, and upcoming events, log onto


Looking Forward

This last year has been about consolidating the initial successes of the DIMA School into a sustainable platform. Once we have established the sustainability of the DIMA School in Najaf, we will look to set up an exchange programme for the teachers with special needs teachers in the UK. Thereafter, we have ambitions to establish similar special needs teaching facilities in other Iraqi cities.

Again, many thanks indeed for all your support to date and we look forward to keeping you updated on the future achievements of the DIMA Foundation in the years to come.


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