South Hebron Hills, Wed 20.10.10, Morning

Noa B., Noga Z., Mira B. (reporting), Muhammed (driving)

Translator:  Charles K.

Route 317

All the “illegal” outposts (as if the other ones were legal) observe us from the hilltops. All have paved access roads, water and electric lines, and a number of Hummers protecting them. We didn’t stop at the checkpoint near Beir Yattir.  Maybe someone should check to see whether the problems with the Abu-Kabita children have been resolved. 

Umm el-Hir
We picked up Eid, from Umm el-Hir. She tells us about problems with settlers from Carmel who live next to the fence, near the village’s traditional bread oven. The oven (which might be older than Carmel) operates in the traditional way – it’s heated by fire. Don’t forget, Umm el-Hir has almost no access to electricity, except solar energy from the Village Group project. The oven emits smoke that sometimes, depending on the wind direction, annoys the residents of the Carmel settlement. The latter sometimes come in the middle of the night and pour water over the oven so it’s unusable in the morning (it takes a few hours to warm it up). A few days ago it happened again. They called the police. There was a lot of talk about compromise (blah blah blah), and that was it. With a little imagination it would be possible to “cook up” a solution – for example, install an electric oven and get electricity from Carmel. 

Hashem el-Daraj: the kindergarten
We drove on to Hashem el-Daraj. We had made an appointment (with Eid’s help) with Huda, the kindergarten teacher, to visit the kindergarten. There were about 35 children aged 3-4. When we arrived the children sat at small tables, drawing. Since there aren’t enough tables some of the children sat in a second row and, of course, just watched the others drawing. Noa and Noga sat with the children and drew with them. I drew with the children seated in the second row, on the floor. We had brought Frisbees that had been donated along with many other toys, and Noga and Noa played with the children.   
The interior of the kindergarten looks a little better after Aliya, the kindergarten teacher, and her husband had visited – a few decorations, a poster with numbers, etc. We gave Huda her October salary, from donations we’d received:  from a British foundation and from members of our MachsomWatch group.We talked about needs that could easily be met: balls, paddles, in short – outdoor games that don’t have to be assembled from parts that must be stored together when not in use.
Huda, of course, served us tea (the gas balloon is located in the room. It’s really dangerous – but otherwise it would be stolen). The plan is to begin building soon. Noa is working with the architect who volunteered to prepare a renovation plan for the kindergarten! It’s also necessary to find a professional kindergarten teacher, preferably a Bedouin woman, to keep an eye on the project – to make weekly visits, for example. So if anyone has any ideas – let us know. 
At the end of the day (which will be the beginning…) the kindergarten will be splendid.