A Haven for Palestinian Children

P.O. box 19796, Jerusalem 91017                        Tel. 02-628-2062, FAX 02-6287842

Historical Background The Story of Rawdat El-Zuhur
     Rawdat El-Zuhur was established in 1952 as a home for Destitute girls. The founder, the late Elizabeth Nasir, (known to all her friends as Lizzy) was the director of the Social Welfare Department in Jerusalem, Jordan at that time. A graduate of the American University of Beirut (1933), she was avante-garde for her generation. 

Our first girls.

      Upon the dispossession of the Palestinians, and the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 on Palestinian land, East Jerusalem was part of the Palestinian area which did not fall under Israeli control. That area was annexed to Jordan until a solution to the Palestine question is found. The area was affected by the influx of refugees from the coastal towns of Palestine who depended on relief and United Nations rations.
     Under these circumstances, Elizabeth Nasir was on one of her inspection tours during a very wet and cold day in February 1952, when she ran across two little girls around six and five years old, hanging around on one of the streets of Ramallah north of Jerusalem at a late hour in the afternoon. Elizabeth Nasir writes:

     "The girls came up to me begging and when I asked them why they were doing that, they explained that they were supporting their old parents who lived in a nearby village. They also told me that the taxi drivers had pity on them and gave them free lifts back to their village. My conscience pricked me and I accompanied them to their home, and to my horror, I found out that they lived in a bare hovel with torn sack cloth on the floor. The mother was blind, and the father was sick and shivering as it was bitterly cold, and with no food whatsoever around. I could not hold back my tears and I was determined to put an end to their misery and humiliation. There were hardly any orphanages at that time, so I appealed to the Judge to allow me to put the girls up temporarily in the Reformatory. I realized that the Reformatory was not the ideal place for those young girls, but at least they would have shelter and food. So I was very glad when my appeal was granted specially when the medical examination showed that those two girls had been molested and they had venereal disease."

Lizzy and the girls with a new look

      That incident set "Lizzy" out to fulfill her mission. She was determined to provide a home for destitute girls so that they could earn an honorable living. She was personally on the streets looking for such girls, and searching for them in hovels and caves that were part of the landscape where penniless families took refuge. At the beginning it was a struggle with the girls and the whole family, but gradually the parents started seeking help when they realized what kind of care she was giving to their daughters. With the generous support of the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, who had provided her with the first seed money for the project, and the help of many other friends, Elizabeth was able to launch a program in house-keeping, hygiene, literacy, embroidery, religious education and music; all taught at this special home for destitute girls. The home started with twenty five girls and by using part of her own home for the project which Lizzy dedicated the rest of her life for; a full life which ended on April 2, 1987. 

Miss Nassir with the first girls

Home Ec. and sewing

line of the first girls

the shift to coeducation

starting the school day

an alternative for the kitchen

a renovated new play area 
for the Kindergarten

enjoying a tricycle ride

serving all irrespective of color or creed

enjoying  the space in 
the new library

music with percussion

jig saw puzzles

Mrs. Zananiri always finds  time for parents

the principal in a 
special meeting

Open House 
Bring and Buy Sale
Lizzy dancing with the first girls

teaching of cutting and sewing

primitive cooking facilities 
in the first days

Miss Nasir a motherly interest

serving a hot meal 
for the children

when space was limited 
for the kindergarten

Playing house

the room that replaced the tent

happy faces

new facilities at the 
all-purpose hall

singing with percussion instruments

gifts from sponsors

counseling session with the mothers

Mothers’ Day in the early days

a lentil lunch - 
a mothers' activity
the first girls dancing

literacy classes

the shift to formal education after 1967

a class room

the kitchen used 
as a classroom

the kindergarten in its first stages with limited facilities

the tent is used 
for extra space.

The building before the second floor was put up

when the library was 
in the corridor

music lesson

keeping busy

Miss Nasir & Mrs. Zananiri

testing all the new children

Mazen, a graduate 
and later staff

enjoying a lentil lunch

Thank you for visiting. May God bless your days and nights,
while also Blessing this  ministry to children

Web Author E-Mail:info@rawdat.org
Begun in 1997, updated May 2003