In part 2, Paul Calvert spoke with Kalman Samuels from Shalva about the types of disability their clients have, their successful volunteer programme, and the difference their disabled clients are making in the world.

Continued from page 1

Let me give you an example of one very successful project. Thirteen years ago I founded a Shalva band and I hired someone who said he could do it, a musical therapist. He began selecting young children who seem to have musical talent and trying to teach them. It's now 13 years later and that band has eight members in it. It has travelled the world and is called the 'Shalva Band'. It has played in London, in England twice, and at many schools in London.

Living As Equals Among Equals With Disability

As a matter of fact, six weeks ago I was privileged to be at none other than Eton college. There was an evening where Shalva Band was the entertainment and it was absolutely extraordinary. So they are really recognised and get around.

This last summer the band was invited to participate in an Israeli television show, which is basically like America Has Talent. The band entered this competition. The winner of this particular television competition is automatically the Israeli representative to the Eurovision, which is seen by hundreds of millions.

The band opened the first challenge on air. They sang 'Here Comes The Sun' by the Beatles. The judges and the crowd went wild. As the judges said, "We were concerned that we will have to judge you with somehow a lighter hand; we have to give them a little bit more credit. In spite of the fact that our music director said we are equals among equals. We make it, we don't make it. We are not interested in any sympathy, we are musicians. If we are good that is fine, if we're not good that is also fine. They got immediately I think it was a 91 or 94, which is huge.

The video of the Shalva Band in what is called the Rising Star Competition has gone viral. It has had something like two million hits with this Beatles song and the interviews before and after.

Living As Equals Among Equals With Disability

So that is one project. Why do I mention it? Because it is changing the world. It is impacting the way people view disabilities in a very different way. It is empowering families with children with disabilities to know, "Hey, I don't have to give up." These kids have disabilities and they are making their mark. My kid has a disability, let's push it a bit further, and let's not lose hope. Let's realise that he may not be able to do everything everybody else does, but he may have a very meaningful role that he can make.

Apart from that we have a Shalva team in the marathon. There is a Jerusalem Marathon and runners come from all over the world to run in the marathon and raise money for Shalva. We have about 400 kids that partake in a particular track of that marathon. It's a short track. We began that track with 15 kids eight years ago and today I am very happy to say there are thousands of people who are challenged, whether that be physical, or whatever it might be and that they and their escorts run on that track. So it has become something very international in nature. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.