Today I visited a couple of different centers for children in Gaza City. The first was a preschool center with young children who were all engaged in various instructional activities. In one room, the 4-year-olds saw me and started singing a song in English. (How many preschoolers in America could break out in an Arabic song?) I didn’t take pictures because I’m not sure how the parents would feel about having their children’s photographs on Facebook.
The headmistress of this center has agreed to teach me Arabic. She is dedicated to teaching foreigners and refused payment for her services! I already have my first homework assignment.
Then I visited a children’s library. A modern, state-of-the-art facility for which any architect would be proud to take credit. More information is available here.
The Centre describes its purpose this way:
Most of Gaza ’s children face extremely arduous and difficult circumstances that severely affect their daily lives, and often prevent them from pursuing any meaningful process of individual self-development. On a piece of land generously contributed by the city’s municipality, the Foundation thus began building the Qattan Centre for the Child in Gaza City, an independent children’s library and information centre aimed at improving the cultural, social, educational, recreational and psychological environment for a large section of the Gaza Strip’s child population, without social, physical, religious, sexual or racial discrimination.
The Centre aims to achieve its goals through a first-class library and information service for children up to the age of 15, as well as to their parents, carers and teachers.
There were many, many children in this center when I visited but I avoided taking their picture. They were curious about my presence.
One typical misconception I’ve heard among Americans goes something like this —– “Aren’t the Palestinians teaching their children to hate Jews and Israel ….. to grow up to be suicide bombers?” The absurdity of that notion is beyond the pale when you see the love and care these children receive.
One day I hope to visit elementary and secondary schools in Gaza and will specifically ask about the curriculum.