~ Bank and Address for Giving
November 1998 Newsletter
As we share with you our news, we want to express our deep gratitude to every one of you for your unwavering support for our cause and our school, and especially all of you who made an extra contribution to see us through a difficult financial year. Encouraged by the humble gestures of the local community at the Open House, we voiced special appeals at Easter and Eid Al-Adha(Feast of Sacrifice), and we are grateful to those who responded. The purpose of the Open House and special appeals were to get our local community involved and connected with the school in a tangible way, despite the financial difficulties they themselves face. We of course cannot function without all of the international support for special projects and programs, as well as the sponsorship of children, for which we are so grateful. But we are encouraged by the support of the local community which connects us all.
1998 marked the 50th anniversary of “Al-Nakbeh”, the dispossession of the Palestinian people, and the beginning of the new school year coincided with the fifth anniversary of the Oslo Accords. These accords were supposed to bring peace, stability, and economic growth to the whole region. On the contrary, what has been achieved is frustration and lack of progress with the “Peace Process,” as well as a deteriorating economic situation.
Violations of human rights continue, and the Palestinians of East Jerusalem have been subjected to a consistent Israeli policy aiming at depriving them of their residency right in Jerusalem. As for the Wye Agreement, we wonder, WHY? If, after five years, evey accord needs ten days and arguments about interpretations of commitments, it would seem that the realization of peace becomes as garbled as the process itself. But is there really an alternative to peace? Can we afford to lose hope? It is ironic that the Israeli Government and the United States administration should consider any unilateral steps taken by the Palestinian Authority as illegal, when Israel has not stopped taking unilateral steps to create new fait accomplis on the ground. The annexation of Jerusalem and the building of settlements, that are considered illegal by the World Community, are but examples. Mr. Netanyahu’s interpretation of the Oslo Accords is certainly not conducive to peace. To demand the Palestinian Authority to fight “Terrorism” while Israel continues to occupy the land and to deprive the Palestinians of their basic rights is absurd. The Palestinian Authority cannot be expected to guarantee Israel peace, security, and tranquillity when Israel’s “State Oppression and Terrorism” continue to prevail under the pretext of “security”. The Palestinians have just as much right to security. So the establishment of a Palestinian State along side the State of Israel will be the only guarantee for peace and tranquillity to the whole region.In spite of the political and financial difficulties, Rawdat El-Zuhur remains a haven for the children of Jerusalem. We hope that we can continue to count on your support. Do take time out to send your gift to the children of Rawdat El-Zuhur. Please note that we have closed our account at the Swiss Bank but we have opened a new Account at the Arab Bank in New York.With warm greetings and God’s blessings to you all.
The Development of “Farah,” a Monthly Program with Mothers
The Welfare Association Consortium for the Management of the Palestinian NGO Project has approved a grant for the amount of $59,400 for a period of two years in response to our request for funding a project that would establish “a strong and continuous relationship between school and home.” This will provide salaries for staff, specialists, and home visits. It will also provide for testing for dyslexia and learning disabilities. The busy schedule for the newly appointed counselor emphasizes the need for such a project. Forty six mothers showed up for the first meeting at the end of September. The meeting included developing a plan of action, discussing issues of interest, and setting a schedule for home visits.
The Renovation and Development of the Kindergarten
Through a grant for the amount of $23,200 from the Welfare Association, the school will finally be able to do a very much needed job of renovation and development of the kindergarten and nursery. The lack of funds for the last few years has made it impossible to do even basic maintenance jobs. The children join us in extending our thanks to the Welfare Association for their generous gift which will help turn their classrooms into a model kindergarten and nursery.
A Mother Represents the Parents at the Graduation Ceremony
At the graduation ceremony of the 25 sixth graders on June 6, 1998, one of the mothers addressed the guests on behalf of the parents. Breaking the yearly tradition of having a father represent the parents on that occasion, Sanaa, who made a beautiful presentation, was proud to announce that her daughter Ulfat was the sixth of her children who were all educated at Rawdat El-Zuhur. Her youngest son will be graduating in June 1999. It is worth noting that we have four international mothers this year: Swedish, German, Bulgarian, and Romanian.
Creativity to the Rescue – A Mobile Science Laboratory
Rawdat El-Zuhur never ceases o be innovative when space is needed for extra programs. With the establishment of the computer laboratory, the science
laboratory was left with no space except for storage in the hall. Part of
$10,000 grant from the United nations Development Programme (UNDP) will go toward a mobile science laboratory which can be wheeled into the various
classes. The rest of the grant will go towards: movable partitions in the all purpose hall for small group work, furnishing of the staff room and office, and equipping the school as a learning centre for short-term courses.
A Special Grant from ANERA for the Music Program
Aside from the regular sponsorship program that ANERA supports, a special grant for the amount of $5000 was contributed towards the music program to help pay the fees for the school children affiliated with the National Conservatory of Music. This grant provided scholarships for talented children and covered the cost of purchasing musical instruments. We are grateful to ANERA for this special grant, especially at a time when it is almost impossible for parents to give priority to music lessons given the present economic situation.
Through his connection with the National Conservatory of Music, Peter Sulski, a permanent member of the London Symphony Orchestra, and a guest violist with the Apple Hill Chamber Players, arranged for the group to perform at the school hall. It was a lovely experience for the children to be exposed for the first time to a professional live performance. For the less serious part of the program, Richard Hartshone, better known as “Dobbs”, combined his virtuosity on the double bass with his gift for story making and storytelling. He had the children laughing all though his story in Arabic, “Dobbs Accent”!!!!!
The Apple Hill Chamber Players “Playing for Peace” entertain the Children
The Visit of the Canadian Minister for International Affairs
On June 10, and on the premises of Rawdat El-Zuhur, Mr. Feisal Husseini, who holds the Jerusalem portfolio in the Palestinian Authority, welcomed Madame Diane Marleau, the Canadian Minister for International Affairs. Mrs.
Khoury and Mrs. Zananiri showed Mme Marleau and her entourage around the school and pointed out the renovation works that were done by the support of the Canada Fund. The children were excited to perform for the Minister. They kept wondering where “He was,” until the Principal pointed out that the minister was a Lady. As a women’s organization, we were indeed honored by the visit.
The Educational Network, which has been introducing programs to make a difference to education in Palestinian schools, has chosen Rawdat El-Zuhur as one of three schools to work with.
Summer Camp at Helen Keller School
For the second consecutive summer, children from Rawdat El-Zuhur participated in the innovative summer camp at the Helen Keller School which brings together sighted children and the visually impaired. We feel such an experience is part of the basic training that our children need to help them accept integration of children with special needs into the educational system.
Marwan Helps Arts to Flourish at Rawdat El-Zuhur
During a special exhibition of his work at Birzeit University and the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center in April, Marwan Qassab Bashi, a prominent Syrian artist now living in Germany, donated his works to the Children of Palestine as a gesture symbolizing his belief in children and what they can contribute towards hope for a better future. The proceeds from the sale of the catalogue of the exhibition, “To the Children of Palestine,” were donated to Rawdat El-Zuhur toward a mural painting on the outer walls of the school.
One of the children, Mahmoud, designed a central portion consisting of two birds bearing branches over a bright yellow sun. Others worked on the border, and some of the younger children added small paintings of children, animals and flowers. We are grateful to Marwan and other friends who donated towards paints and are helping to foster arts at the school.
The Closure of the School Entrance
To add to the difficulties arising from the closure of Jerusalem, the entrance of the school (which was an empty lot for over forty year) was turned into a parking lot virtually overnight. The owners resorted to the measure out of fear of having their land confiscated by the Israeli government, but the closure of the school entrance by a parking lot creates security problems for our children. The parents and the community are pressuring the owners to provide a “safe passage” for the children. The numerous letters to the Municipality concerning the issue went unanswered.
At the same time, the rent of the school building was raised from JD535 to JD 5000($7000), an increase of almost 90% which will certainly strain the budget.
Seminars, Workshops, and Short Courses for the Staff
During the summer holidays, the school principal, Mrs. Zananiri, benefited from a ten-day training workshop on Management and Institutional Building of Arab NGO’s. Four teachers took part in a special workshop for planning and developing schools. In a one-day seminar, they shared their experience with the rest of the staff and school administration. We were very excited to start working on a plan of action and to develop a purpose statement for the school. Three other teachers attended short courses, including physical education, art, and first aid. The annual meeting of the staff with the school board took place over lunch at the Jerusalem Hotel shortly before the new school year started.
In response to our financial difficulties, the board and the mothers of the school organized a special open house last fall. Children demonstrated science experiments, showed their skills in an obstacle course, and performed dabkeh (folklore dancing), while mothers held a home goods and bake sale.
A Book Stems from the Garden of Flowers
Under the auspices of the Common Global Ministries Board, our volunteer Lori Hayes has been working on a book that features the artwork and faces of the children at Rawdat El-Zuhur. The idea stems from a belief in the powerful voices of children. Especially in a region of the world in which the character and richness of people become obscured by politics, the voices and faces and drawings of children become much more important. We hope that the cover of this newsletter, designed by Nagham in grade six, may become part of the cover design of the book. The pictures spells, in Arabic, Rawdat El-Zuhur.
Organization President visits the United States
Mrs. Samia Khoury returned from the USA on October 30 after attending homecoming at her alma mater, Southwestern University, in Georgetown, Texas.
She was the guest of the University during her stay and was given the opportunity to address the assembly and one of the International Politics Classes. She was overwhelmed by the warm reception of both the President and the Interim Provost. And was pleasantly surprised to be able to visit with two of her retired professors still living in Georgetown. Mrs. Khoury was joined by her cousin Diana, who graduated with her in 1954, and decided to live in the USA.The Bank account at the
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begun 1997, updated 10-06-02