|Posted on March 11, 2014 at 12:40 PM|
Progress at Hope School
Linda Whittaker writes from Jerusalem:
This year has seen much progress at Hope School in Beit Jala, West Bank. The school cafeteria, a project funded by Embrace the Middle East (formerly Bible Land), and equipped and furnished by a Quaker grant obtained through Sunderland Meeting, is thriving now, a focal point for the children during breaks. Our next step will be to build a “bustan” (a traditional Palestinian garden, with grapevines, fruit trees and aromatic herbs), in order to make the
grounds around the cafeteria attractive as a café after school, serving the local people of Beit Jala. The grounds have some fine old pine trees
to provide shade, and a cistern for collecting rainwater; around these a bustan can be built in a second year continuation of the Sunderland grant.
Meanwhile there were major administrative changes in the school. A new steering committee was formed, and through the committee, a new Chairperson was obtained for the school, Mr. Khader Saba. A director at EJ-YMCA, he is well trained in business administration, and promptly got to work raising funds and restructuring the school. A new headmistress was hired, who has a doctorate in special education. A fresh breath of air has come through the school and there is a feeling of optimism for the first time in many years.
Mr. Saba has already managed to raise to fix the leaking roof of the building, and is now working on a project to develop a kindergarten, which will serve the local town and villages, and also create more income for the school. The demand for private schooling is very high in this part of Palestine, and there are not enough places for everyone who wants to attend them (Moslem as
well as Christian). Thus opening the school to typical children as well as disadvantaged children will fill a local need, and also raise the income of the school towards becoming self-sustaining.
I do believe that Hope School has turned the corner, from a struggling institution which could not pay its teachers and was facing closure, to a school which has been set on a healthy path for development. Quakers
contributed to this; we came to the school in desperate times, and provided morale support and encouragement which were as important as the small amount of funding we were able to provide. Many Quakers came to visit in the last year, most notably June Hall, who presented a Quaker quilt to the School in the past summer. It is now proudly displayed in the atrium of the school building, a reminder that in difficult times, we were there for them, and we cared. For this the staffs is profoundly grateful and lovingly return our Friendship