Since 2009 Friends of Hebron have worked in partnership with a number of non-government organisations to raise funds for essential educational facilities in the South Hebron Hills. Over the last three years we have successfully assisted the communities of Umm Al Khair and Khasam Al Daraj to build kindergarten facilities. With these two schools up and running, a third kindergarten project has been identified in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood, located in the Old City of Hebron.
After extensive consultation with the community, a house was found whose owners have expressed the desire and commitment to donate the house to be used as a kindergarten.
Challenges in the Tel Rumeida area
The targeted area (the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in the Old City of Hebron) is faced with a multitude of problems including the following:
– Huge psychological pressure on the children of the area due to the presence of Israeli settlers and the extensive presence of Israeli soldiers providing protection for them. Physical attacks on the Palestinian residents of the neighborhood are widely reported.
– Lack of any recreational facilities for the children of Tel Rumeida where they can release some of the stresses and pressures they face in the neighborhood.
– The non-presence of a kindergarten in the neighborhood forces the parents to seek KG education outside of the neighborhood. Doing so is usually done at a fee that is financially cumbersome to the families to the point that they feel obligated to withdraw their children from kindergarten education.
– The refugee population living in the neighborhood is particularly vulnerable due to the reduction of social services by UNRWA and the cutting-off of aid supplied to the residents of the OldCity by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). This monthly food parcel that was provided by the ICRC since 2002 was cut off due to budget limitations. According to in-field surveys, there are at least 283 refugees living in and around Tel Rumeida neighborhood of which 39 are children of kindergarten age.
There are currently three international observer groups that monitor the schools in the Old City of Hebron. The Christian Peacemaker Teams, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel, and the Temporary International Presence in Hebron are stationed outside the schools to provide safe passage for school students who must pass through military checkpoints and are at risk of attacks by settlers. These observer groups will be stationed near the kindergarten to give these young children some peace of mind as they negotiate their way to school with daily and ongoing harassment.