Umm alKheir

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Judy A., Mira B. (reporting), Mohamed (driver, translator, participant)

Purpose of shift: meeting with the teachers of the Umm-el-Kheir preschool

Teachers present at the meeting: Eikles, Dalel, and Naama. Salcha was not present.  Naama had her face covered because Mohamed was present at the meeting.  Ramadan began this morning.  The preschool teachers were feeling a bit pressured because of it – they were thinking about the evening meal they would be preparing for their families.

Eikles explained the organization of the preschool -  the children are divided into three age groups: 3, 4, and 5.  Each group has its own, not very large, room in the preschool.  Aside from free play outside, the 5 year olds learn numbers and letters.  The younger ones are also exposed to numbers (counting) and spend time coloring.  Most of the time the children play outside in the small playground. 

The preschool is in a serious state of neglect: the walls are dirty as are the chairs and tables, there are broken windows, the locks on the classroom doors don’t work and the one on the preschool gate is broken as is the preschool fence, the sink is also broken.  There are few if any decorations in the classrooms and no place to hang things up or cupboards to store materials.  We asked the preschool teachers about materials for creative activities (just a month and half ago, we left pastels, finger paints, drawing paper, and books for them to use with the children).  They told us everything was in the locked storeroom for which there was a key.  The storeroom is also in a state of neglect and disorder – toys, books, and various materials, including empty containers, torn papers, were on the floor and in boxes in a state of complete disarray.

We explained the nature and aims of our activities – to organize art and music activities and to leave them with copies of our activities so that they can use them independently, and to help them with improvements in the preschool.  Given the current situation in the preschool, we have the impression that there is much work to do before we can begin our activities program.  We promised to try to contact all those involved with the preschool, in order to see how the villagers, together with the possible support of Hamed from UNWRA, may be able to renovate the preschool so that we can begin our activities at the beginning of the school year.

We also broached the idea of organizing a visit to a couple of Israeli preschools, perhaps one in a Bedouin town and one in Beer Sheva.  The teachers were receptive to the idea.  If it can be organized, it could also include Huda and the other teachers at the Hashem-el-Daraj preschool -  perhaps even those in Susiya.

We wished the teachers an easy Ramadan fast and promised to return at the beginning of the year.


Pictures of the activity