South Hebron Hills, Tue 21.9.10, Morning

Ye'ela R., Mira B. (reporting), Muhammed (driver/translator)

Translator:  Charles K.

 Route 317

All the illegal outposts (as if the others had been legal) watch us from the hilltops.  All have paved access roads, water and electric lines, and a number of Hummers for protection.  Some also have a directional sign on the road.  All the Palestinian villages – without signage.  A person has to guess how to reach Sussia, the Palestinian locality.

The turnoff to Avigail – an illegal outpost – is still marked on the boulder at the start of the road.  We recently learned, from Leah S.’s letter, that the Avigail settlers are publicizing a nearby spring they took over as a tourist and bathing site.  We should note that Avigail adjoins (part of) Tyawanni, where people live in caves, on whose other side is Havat Ma’on (the Maon Farm, also illegal). Tyawanni has no running water.  In the past, settlers polluted Tyawanni’s wells more than once. 

The Hisham-al-Daraj kindergarten
We picked up Eid, from Umm-al-Hir, and drove to Hisham-al-Daraj.  We’d made an appointment (with Eid’s help) with Huda, the kindergarten teacher, to visit the kindergarten.  It began operating this week, after summer vacation and the month of Ramadan.  There are about 35 children who appear to be 3-4 years old.  They were seated in a circle when we arrived.  One of the mothers and another woman were present.We discussed their needs again:
Yard:  The sandbox – needs sand.  The wind blows the sand away.  The playground equipment has to be repaired and reset in concrete.  Yaela, who has experience working with the Bedouin, insisted the villagers organize to do the work themselves.  We’ll only provide the sand and material for the concrete.  Eid will speak with the mukhtar.  We’ll follow up and see what happens.
Help running the kindergarten.  It’s hard to handle 35 children without help.  The kindergarten has to be divided into different areas:  a kitchen corner, an area for activities to encourage reading and writing, and coloring, that will stimulate the children.  It’s now important to locate professionals to help with setting up the kindergarten and devising a curriculum.  Huda seems pretty isolated.
Inside the kindergarten.  They need a storage cabinet that can be closed.    Maybe shelves – since it’s a small space, they should use the walls.  Maybe a rug for the cement floor.  Maybe they should devote a special day to setting up the kindergarten, organizing the “activity corners,” hanging shelves.  Put up a bulletin board for displaying drawings, posters, etc.Maybe, in a few months, they’ll also have electricity… 

On our way back we glanced at the kindergarten being built in Umm-al-Hir.  The building apparently belongs to the mukhtar of Hisham-al-Daraj.  "Kvutzat Hakfarim" (literally: "the villages group”: a predominantly Palestinian group working in, and at aiding, West Bank Palestinian villagers) obtained money to renovate the building.  It’s much larger that the building in Hisham-al-Daraj.  It isn’t open yet.  Bottom line – there’s a lot to do!