From Brownies to Bethlehem

The brownie group
The brownie group
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A dedicated Braes volunteer has flown into one of the world’s most volatile conflict zone to help out kids at a blind school.

Elaine McDiarmid has travelled to the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, to carry out summer camp and IT work at the Al Shurooq School for the visually impaired in Beit Jala.

Mrs McDiarmid, a Brownie leader and member of Blackbraes and Shieldhill Parish Church, is spending a month in the West Bank facility.

The country is locked in a bitter and deadly struggle with Israel, but the troubles haven’t deterred the determined SVQ co-ordinator from her voluntary role.

She said: “This will be my second trip to the school, but I actually spent two years working in Israel and Palestine.

“Personally I didn’t find it that scary and found the people to be very friendly, hospitable and helpful although they are affected deeply by the troubles.

“It helps being Scottish though as they love Scottish people, but there will still be restrictions for me.”

Mrs McDiarmid’s 1st Shieldhill Brownies group raised £700 for the Al Shurooq school where she will teach blind children IT and life skills.

She will also be part of a camp trip to Tabgha on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

The 48-year-old added: “The school was founded and run by Helen Shehadeh who is blind herself. Her work is amazing.”

Blackbraes and Shieldhill Parish Church Minister Reverend Louise McClements said: “We are very proud of Elaine at Blackbraes and Shieldhill Church. She is a popular and well-respected Brownie leader and her work over the summer at the Al Shurooq school will be a great blessing and enrichment to both the children and students there.”

For more information on the Bethlehem school or to donate visit