P.O. box 19796, Jerusalem
Newsletter ~ November 1999
The renovation of the kindergarten section was finally finished during the summer holidays. Old worn out windows and the main door were changed, new electric wiring was installed under the plaster, and a fresh coat of paint made the place look bright, and shining. Low partitions of gypsum board in the hall provided corners for a variety of activities where the children enjoy playing house, visiting the clinic, shopping and cooking. All was made possible by a generous contribution of the Welfare .Association Mr. Rafiq Husseini, the Director of the Welfare Association accompanied by Miss Ghada Rabah, the Coordinator of the project officially inaugurated the project on October 14, 1999. Present for the occasion were the parents of the Kindergarten children, members of Rawdat El-Zuhur and representatives of the Union of Charitable Societies, the Palestinian Department of Education, and other organizations. A short and beautiful performance of singing and dancing by the children was enjoyed by all. And contributions and educational gifts offered for the occasion were greatly appreciated.
Thirty-six children were admitted to Kindergarten bringing the total of that section to 63. The limited number that Rawdat El-Zuhur can admit yearly causes a big headache to the Principal as she has to turn down around one hundred applications a year. The total number of students in the whole school is 233 (106 girls, and 127 boys). As a woman's organization we need to be careful not to be overwhelmed with boys.
A new teachers' aid was appointed this year to help in the kindergarten section. Since working with the children is done in groups, the appointment proved to be a great help to the teachers.
Lori Hayes, a symbol of love and dedication
Global Ministries, previously known as (United Church Board for World Ministries) sponsored a volunteer teacher of art for two years, Lori Hayes). Her term came to an end in June 99 and she was honored on graduation day with lots of emotions and sad farewells. Lori made a great impact on Rawdat El-Zuhur. She loved the children, and they loved her just as much. Art was integrated in everything that was done at the school and the walls and classrooms were filled with the children's work. She learned Arabic with the children in the classrooms, which enabled her to communicate with everybody. And everybody was specially touched when she responded in Arabic to Mrs. Khoury's words on that occasion. She presented the school with a piece of her artwork autographed in Arabic.
The Japanese International Voluntary Centre (JVC)
At the recommendation of ANERA the JVC contributed a used (but in a very good condition Kawai piano. As part of the agreement with the JVC, the old piano, which was in the kindergarten hall, was given to a Youth Centre in Jericho. The school is very privileged to have two Japanese pianos now, one on each floor. The Norwegian Refugee Council had donated a Yamaha in the seventies, which is still in good condition. Music continues to be a major activity for the children. And young Simon, the music teacher enjoys training the children how to sing.
Peace activities at the School
Runner for peace Danny Garcia, who was running all the way to Australia, stopped at Rawdat El Zuhur in January 1999. He urged the children not to lose faith as he assured them that peace would eventually prevail. He was very touched when the children sang for him "We shall overcome" and he joined them in singing and dancing. Another beautiful interaction with the children through singing, dancing, painting of faces and refreshments took place in June. A group of 24 persons led by Rev. Shari Prestemon from the United Church of Christ visited the school to plant a Peace Pole. Encouraging words were exchanged and the children were very attentive as they listened to Rev. Prestemon telling them a story about peace. With inscription in Arabic and English the Pole stands on top of the stairs leading to the second floor of the school.
A Gift of Musical Instruments
During their visit to the School in April, the ANERA Middle East Leadership Team presented the school with six violins and a cello. Some of the members had identified the need for those instruments on a previous visit to the school, and it took a collective effort to make this dream come true. It was lovely to listen to the group explaining with excitement how they were able to get the instruments, asides from the fact that they carried them all the way from the States. We are very grateful for all those who made it possible for the children to have those instruments, so that they can pursue their training.
A Special Gift from BibleLands
The BibleLands has made a special grant for the amount of £11,000 which will go towards the project of developing strong and continuous relationship between school and home, a project known as "Farah" (The Arabic word for joy). This project will also help the school deal with children with special needs. Our challenge for this year is to make our courageous step in admitting a four-year old child with down's Syndrome,
a positive experience.
BibleLands Friends identify special needs:
A friend of BibleLands, Mrs. Brenda Spencer paid a visit to the school in February. It was a cold day and the heaters were on. But there was a continuous cut in the electric current because of an overload, so Mrs. Spencer came to the rescue. She made a generous donation for the amount of 4000 shekels (equivalent to $1000 at that time) to have the problem solved by proper redistribution and rewiring of the electric network. Mrs. Spencer's interest in Rawdat El-Zuhur did not stop at that. In October, and back home in England, she arranged a special fundraising function for the benefit of the school and was able to raise the amount of £630. It is people like Brenda Spencer, and so many others, who once touched by the children of Rawdat El-Zuhur, become committed to make a difference to the lives of those children. Leading a group of 30 persons, Rev. Wells of Merrow Methodist Church in the U.K. visited Rawdat El-Zuhur shortly after school had started in September. The sun was so bright in class six that the group generously offered to cover the cost of curtains for that class. The children are ever so grateful to the group for making it possible for them to concentrate on the board without the glaze of the sun.
BibleLands Partners Conference
Mrs. Khoury and Mrs. Zananiri participated in a one-day conference for BibleLands Partners held at Helen Keller School (for the Visually Handicapped) in September. Appreciation was expressed for the great support that BibleLands is offering to the Palestinian Community.
A special workshop for the teachers
In preparation for the opening of the school year, meetings were held in August to discuss plans of action for the New Year, and to report on the various short training courses, which the teachers had attended. The climax of the week was the special workshop let by Dr. Leila Atshan, a consultant at the Palestinian Ministry of Education. In a very lively session, her main thrust was on stereotyping and prejudgment of people. She herself, visually handicapped, brought new and fresh concepts to the teachers who did not want the session to end.
Counsellor and English teacher earns a Masters Degree
Maha Sabatini, Counsellor and teacher of English for the upper elementary classes has been pursuing her studies at the Jerusalem Open University for the last two years. In June she was awarded her Masters degree in Speech Therapy. This will help her a great deal when dealing with children with special needs.
Bright Wings is the book that Lori Hayes worked on during her stay at Rawdat El-Zuhur. Pictures and portraits from a Palestinian garden. It is children's art from Rawdat El-Zuhur with photographs and text by Lori. The book was edited and designed by Thomas Abraham, Middle East & Europe Office of the Global Ministries (UCC and Disciples).
ANERA's 1999 Holiday Card Contest
Sawsan Salfiti who just graduated from class six won first place in American Near East Refugee Aid's Holiday Card Contest "My Vision of Peace." Her prize was $50 plus 20 Holiday cards and a selection of art supplies. The third prize was also awarded to a student at Rawdat El-Zuhur, Tareq Hjeij, who is in grade six this year. His prize was $10 and a selection of art supplies.