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Schoolportret: The Hope Flowers School in Bethlehem

20 februari 2012

Rikie van Blijswijk bracht in 2010 een bezoek aan een internationaal onderwijscongres in Tel Aviv. Tijdens die trip kregen de deelnemers ook zicht op de praktijksituatie op scholen in Jerusalem en Bethlehem. De Hope Flowers School, een school voor louter Palestijnse kinderen en leraren, maakte veel indruk. Hun belangrijkste missie: de nieuwe generatie weer het geloof en vertrouwen geven in vrede, democratie, vrijheid en respect (en behoefte) van anderen. Een inspirerend reis- en beeldverslag.

In the spring of 2010 I was invited to the International Democratic  Education Congress in Tel Aviv. In the program of this conference was a trip to Jerusalem and Bethlehem to see education in conflict situations!

The trip brought me to the Hope Flowers School in Bethlehem, a school for Palestine children and teachers. To reach the school we had to go through the enormous wall, which is international criticized. This wall and many soldiers made this to an indelible impression. After passport checking we were allowed to go into Bethlehem and we could travel to the school.

I saw a huge building and playground for the children; the last one was empty. Children who visit the school are traumatized, because of what they have seen in times of the Intifada. But also of how their Palestine parents and they themselves are treated by the Israelian and have to live in a beautiful place, but feels like a ghetto because of the wall.

It was a very warm welcome when we entered the school. The principal told us why the school has become to what it is now. The school was founded by Hussein Issa, the father of the principal of the school,  and is based on the Montessori education. It was Hussein's dream to give children what he himself has lacks and needed when he grew up in a refugee camp. His belief was the positive effect of the provision of pre-school education.

In the morning the program provided what has prescribed by the Palestinian Ministry of education. In the afternoon and evening extra curriculum activities: peace education, democratic formation and work on the sense of community. The team of The Hope Flowers School has included in its curriculum to work at the intercultural trust and understanding, psychological war trauma support for children and their families (without financial resources), and peace activities. Its main goal is the new generation to do believe in peace, democracy, freedom, and respect for the rights and needs of others.

I was very impressed by these deep beliefs of the teachers and the principal in a school that needs so much: books, chairs, tables, materials.  Because of the trauma of the children they have a lot of learning difficulties. Their teachers, mostly women, are very dedicated and do what they can do to help these children.But there is barely money and the school is depending on volunteers and donations.

A psychologist examines the children and gives work opinions to the teachers. What touches me is their love for the children, endless patience and their pride in their work. The files are tracked accurately. The children get a lot of works with motor activities offered, ‘making their brain active’.

After the visit the teachers where our guides to the Church Of The Nativity. During lunchtime we spoke with them about the school visit and their dreams: ‘to be able to do more for the children and their future! A better future!’

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