Promoting Child Literacy in Palestine

by Middle East Children's Alliance
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The start of "Daddy, read to me" campaign
The start of "Daddy, read to me" campaign

With your support, MECA continues to support creative and enriching literacy projects all over Palestine. 

A grant to the Palestine Writing Workshop is enabling them to organize reading clubs and storytelling activities at community centers and schools in Nablus!

A grant to Madaa Creative Center helped them purchase new books and keep their staff librarian who offers homework help, creative writing classes, art projects, storytelling hours, and assists children in choosing books to take out of the library. She and the center staff even deliver books to children who are under the punitive "home arrest" which prevents them from even attending school. Special activities this year have included the "Daddy, read to me" campaign when fathers were invited to come to the library and read for groups of kids as well as encouraged to read at home. 

A grant to the Rachel Corrie Center funds their new part-time children's librarian serving the community in Rafah, Gaza. 

Story time in Askar Refugee Camp
Story time in Askar Refugee Camp
Art & language activities!
Art & language activities!
Writing stories
Writing stories

With your support, MECA funded a fun and creative project offering story telling, poetry, creative writing, and gardening activities for children. Check out the video below from our partners in Beit Hanoun, Gaza! 

Your support hired a librarian for the small community center, purchased shelves and books. Already 822 children and youth have signed up at the library in order to borrow books. 

The librarian organized literacy activities for children age 6-13. Rawan, age 11, wrote a short story titled "Al Baata Al Saghira" meaning "The Small Duck" which described herself, her dreams and her ambitions. Rawan said " I did not imagine that I will write full story. This project helped me greatly to write stories and I hope to be a writer in the future."

The librarian also did home visits to children from the storytelling groups and was thrilled to find that the older children were reading stories to their siblings and cousins at home. 

Reading stories
Reading stories

Links:

Storytelling time in new Beit Hanoun library
Storytelling time in new Beit Hanoun library

MECA and our partners are busy building and upgrading children's libraries, continuing the training of trainers on creative writing in Gaza, and preparing for the new school year!

In Silwan, East Jersualem, we continue to support Tala to run weekly creative writing and young journalist sessions for older kids plus organize story time and homework for the younger kids.

In Gaza, there is a new children's library at Al Quds Cultural Center in Beit Hanoun! MECA provided funds for the furniture, books, and hiring a librarian to organize activities for the kids. They have a poetry group who even hosted a local poet at the center in April to provide inspiration and advice!

we purchased sets of new books published in the West Bank for four libraries in Beit Hanoun, Jabalia, Nuseirat, and Rafah. We are also continuing the training of trainers with the Palestine Writing Workshop to help our partners in Gaza learn to use creative writing as a tool for healing. They'll be putting their training into practice in the fall and we look forward to the stories! 

We are excited to expand our work in Gaza with a new project providing tutoring and special lessons for children with learning disabilities in Rafah. This project with the Union of Palestinian Women's Committee will start in September. 

Thanks for making all of this possible!

Arts & crafts at the library in Silwan
Arts & crafts at the library in Silwan
Using skype to overcome physical barriers!
Using skype to overcome physical barriers!

Our training for trainers with partners in Gaza is off to a great start!

MECA has contracted with Maya Abu AlHayat, a professional writer, storyteller and director of the Palestine Writing Workshop in the West Bank to lead a training on creative writing for our partners in Gaza. Maya was not able to get a permit to enter Gaza for the training, but that didn't stop us!

Last week, Maya led the first training session via skype for a group of librarians, social workers, and university students from four community centers across the Gaza Strip. They are learning how to use creative writing as a tool for children to channel their loss and trauma. 

Participants had great things to say about the first training and are eagerly waiting the next session!

We are so proud of this group and their commitment to helping children in their communities. With electricity only available 2-8 hours per day in Gaza, even a simple skype call is hard to schedule.

More updates coming soon!

These trainers are eager to gain new skills
These trainers are eager to gain new skills
Small group work during the first training session
Small group work during the first training session
Example story from creative writing workshop
Example story from creative writing workshop

We are very excited to announce a new children's library will be opening in the town of Beit Hanoun in the north of the Gaza Strip! MECA is providing funding for the shelves, tables, chairs, and books (both Arabic and English). We will send photos when it opens!

The library is part of a community organization serving children and youth in Beit Hanoun run by the Union of Health Work Committees. They will be using the library during their psychosocial activities for children after this summer's military attacks devastated the area and terrified the residents (see below for link to photos from a human rights organization). They will be offering storytelling, open hours for reading, lending books, and soon creative writing courses too! MECA is helping them to access some award-winning Arabic children's books not available in Gaza.

We are also planning for a creative writing training for our parnters in Gaza that will be led by the Palestine Writing Workshop. We've had the chance to work with PWW in the past on storytelling activities, summer camps, and a creative writing workshop for refugee youth in the West Bank that produced beautiful story boards. This training for 20-25 of the staff at our partner centers in Gaza will guide them in how to help children turn their fear into something creative whether a story or an image or a drama skit. More details and updates coming on this soon! 

MECA is also continuing to support our partner center in Silwan, East Jerusalem to run the only children's library in the area. With so much violence in the streets as new illegal Israeli settlers have taken over homes in the neighborhood, this library is an important oasis for children. It also serves as a tutoring center for children who have fallen behind in school. 

And in the Shejayia area, MECA is providing afterschool teachers to help 45 boys and girls with their English reading and writing through an afterschool program. 

Thank you for your support which is making all of this possible!

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Middle East Children's Alliance

Location: Berkeley, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.mecaforpeace.org
Project Leader:
Danny Muller
IT Coordinator
Berkeley, CA United States

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