Leichhardt Friends of Hebron are thrilled to announce that the Festival of Friendship, that was held on June 18, raised over $5000 for their two kindergarten projects in the South Hebron Hills. We have just received this report from APHEDA’s Middle East Project Officer, who was able to visit the kindergartens last week:
The Umm al Khair kindergarten is going well. It has 10 children and 2 teachers. There are many more children who wish to attend, however their villages are further away and their parents fear them walking on the main road the 3-4km to the kindergarten. To address this problem, the Villages Group, our partner organisation in Palestine, has sought and gained other funding to operate a minibus in the area. The minibus will transport girls to the local high school, and has agreed to collect the children for the kindergarten as well, lessening parents’ fears for their children.
The Khashem al Daraj kindergarten is in the final stages of construction and is expected to be completed by the end of July, ready for the start of the school year in September. It is being constructed by the same builder who worked on the Um al Khair kindergarten. It is being built on land owned by the village council, so there is no concern about future claims on the land by private landholders. The village has a population of approximately 160 families (average family size is 8). The kindergarten expects an enrolment of 40 children when the school year starts in September and will have 2 teachers. Due to a harsh drought, many families have temporarily moved north out of the village in search of better pastures for their sheep and goat herds. Abu Hamza, the head of the Khashem al Daraj village council, expects an enrolment of 100 children at the kindergarten when families return from the north. The Israeli women’s organization, Machsom Watch (“Checkpoint Watch”), have pledged to fund the teachers’ salaries for two years (one teacher’s salary is NIS1000/month; approx. A$275/month). UNRWA have contributed to the construction costs of the kindergarten. The Villages Group is seeking other international funds to assist with teacher training and infrastructure for the kindergarten (toys, furniture, etc.).
The Villages Group requests that the funding raised in Australia by Friends of Hebron is currently best directed to completing construction of the Khashem al Daraj kindergarten. These funds will purchase tiles etc to finish the interior of the kindergarten. Approximately NIS20,000 (A$5500) is required for this, so the FoH funds will go a long way in achieving this goal.
The report from the Villages Group assures us that the Umm al Khair kindergarten teachers are sufficiently covered by current funds the Villages Group are holding. For this reason, the Villages Group would like to prioritise the Khashem al Daraj kindergarten at this time so that it is completed prior to Ramadan starting in August, and it is then ready for the coming school year in September.