Rough and beautiful world for small school children. In winter morning like this, it can be cold but in a summer time it can be more than +40 degrees Celsius. View of a Bedouin village Dkaika at 7 am. Photo by Rami Kolehmainen/HIRN.
With good will and donations from Australia, Hebron International Resource Network (HIRN) was able to organized a deeply needed school transport for children in Dkaika and nearby villages, which are located in South Hebron Hills, southern part of West Bank. The transport was purged in September 2014. Ever since it has effected enormously to the children motivation to attend school. It has offered them a safe access to education in hostile environment and encouraged other ways many children to attend school. This photo reportage is about a morning of a typical school day and thoughts of the beneficiary’s of the school transport.
The population in the area is c. 320, with growing number of school age children. Some of them are registered refugees. School brings the children stability in world where homes and other buildings are constantly under demolition order given by Israeli occupation forces. At its worst, Dkaika received 42 Stop Work Orders in one day in 2011. Photo by Rami Kolehmainen/HIRN.
“Now it is safer. At the moment many settlers use the road to go to the Dead sea and children encounter them. And…now we have a car and they are not so afraid. Specially the girls”, the driver Khalil Suleiman Smeira Al Najada, 53, says. In a photo, driver, older village men and school boys warm up and drink tea or coffee in a tent while waiting everyone to arrive. Photo by Rami Kolehmainen/HIRN.
In a recent past several Bedouins, children and adults, have faced problems with settlers and Israeli military that drive by their villages. In the photo a group of exposed school children are waiting eagerly for the transport to arrive. Photo by Rami Kolehmainen/HIRN.
All the children that were interviewed had something positive to say about the transport. Others had very similar ideas than any teenagers around the world. “Now I don’t have to wake up so early to walk to school. That is muuuuucccchhhh better than last year”, Omar Mahmoud Suleiman Smeira Al Najada, 13, says. Photo by Rami Kolehmainen/HIRN.
First stop at the Al Najada elementary school. For many children and their families, schools are the only way to learn about their rights in a ever growing surrounding of illegal settlements and military presence. Photo by Rami Kolehmainen/HIRN.
The continuity of the school transport is crucial for the Bedouins. It is a way to empower the children and offer them safe way to practice education. Alone in Dakaika there will be in 2015 six new students who will go to sixth grade and will need to travel long distances for their school. As a result of a meeting with HIRN and the Villages Group, the vehicle will be also used to bring c. 15 children from nearby umm al Khair community to the kindergarten, which is near by a settlement. The kindergarten transport will start on third week of the January 2015. The transport is in many ways a way to connect communities in unjust and hostile environment. These are reasons why it is crucial to make sure that school transport continues to operate in the area. These are reasons why Hebron International Resource Network continues to develop networks between communities in the area and internationals with good will.
“My sisters envious me cause I go to school in the van. I told them to wait till next year. Then we will go together”
– Laila Musa Suleiman Smmeira Al Najada, 12.