Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real

by Rebuilding Alliance
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
Al Aqaba Kindergarten: Haj Sami's Dreams Made Real
A child drawing
A child drawing

Back in 2002, when the Israeli Army promised to stop using Al Aqaba Village for live-fire training, establishing the Al Haq kindergarten was the first initiative of a village eager to come home. Rebuilding Alliance is so proud to have been a founding partner — we helped build the kindergarten building, providing a home for the heart of the village.

Principal Noha Dabak, a founding member of Al Haq KG. started out as a teacher there in 2002. Principal  Noha is very proud of how far the KG had come:  she has taught children who are are finishing their college degress to become doctors, engineers, designers, buisiness people and some are now parents who have their own children attending the same KG.

Al Haq kindergarten has two levels, one is for chidren aged five, and the other is for younger children in preschool. The kindergarten offers a state-of-the-art curriculum supported by extracurricular activities and active learning approaches. 

  • The curriculum is supervised by the Ministry of Education. The kindergarten provides regular reports to the Ministry and updates its curriculum in light of the feedback.
  • Three teachers in the kindergarten attend training sessions offered by the Open University of Jerusalem every Saturday and are also enrolled in a diploma program that is funded by the Ministry of Education and some foreign countries. 
  • The kindergarten teaches Arabic, English, Math, Science, Art & music. 
  • It also takes children on field trips and organizes entertainment activities too. 

Children in the village are deeply impacted by the sounds of live fire and military training nearby, across the valley.  Last fall,the Israeli Army resumed military training in the village — we're happy to say that when the village's lawyer filed appeals and Rebuilding Alliance asked Congress to intervene with the U.S. State Department, the Israeli Army stopped using the village for trainign.  Our Contact Congress intervention really helped -- as did sending Donna, our Executive Director. to live in Al Aqaba from April through June, inviting the U.S. Embassy to visit, and bringing two a Congressional Staff Delegation there too.  

Principal Noha shares that kindergarten helps children recover from their fears and anxieties. Children are encouraged to express their feelings through drawing, music, role-playing, and other creative projects.

Even though the KG attracts a great audience of children and their families because of the small fee it charges,  donations were a huge contributor to the income and funds for the KG. We fell short of our goals, though, and that meant the teachers were paid only half their salary as the school year came to a close.

A slump in donations has already forced the kindergarten to take some drastic measures. 

  • The kindergarten cut down on its breakfast program. Ms. Jameela at the kindergarten tells us she sees a visible change in the energy level of children because children focus better when fed breakfast. For now, the kindergarten is offering a traditional breakfast only on Tursdays. 
  • The number of teachers was also cut down, from five to three. 

This past year saw big changes in the village as a whole with the passing of Mayor Haj Sami.  The Governor of Tubas installed a new Village Council Head to help the village recover as the Rural Women's Association did their best to recover. Thankfully, the village council is guaranteeing that the bus will keep running, and so the kindergarten has opened its doors, now for its 26th year! 

We thank you for your support for Al Haq Kindergarten in the past and ask your help now as the school year begins, as the Kindergarten remains the beating heart of the village. 

Children love Pizza the most!
Children love Pizza the most!
Learning Arabic
Learning Arabic
A clown show for the children
A clown show for the children
Field trip to a pharmacy
Field trip to a pharmacy
Learning about pharmacy
Learning about pharmacy
Some fun activities
Some fun activities
Enjoying a traditional meal on Thursday
Enjoying a traditional meal on Thursday

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Moms are baking this at the Rural Women's Kitchen!
Moms are baking this at the Rural Women's Kitchen!

We just wanted to share some beautiful pictures coming from Al Aqaba's Al Haq Kindergarten in West Bank's Area C. The children are a few months into the school year, and the kindergarten is a safe place for them to play, learn, and get a healthy breakfast.  Just as they promised, the moms take turns volunteering to bake the special breakfasts! It's wonderful that the children have a loving community around them. 

This is all the more important with the demolition order against a home and an open barn still looming large — we hope advocacy with Congress will help. We're working to prevent what would be the first demolition since 2010. It’s about more than just this order; the village is an important test case. Can Al Aqaba turn the tide and be the first village released from being in a firing zone? Al Aqaba set a positive precedent, and we hope, thanks to the villagers and people around the world, their case will prevail.

Please mark your calendar for midnight, Nov. 30th, Eastern time. That’s when GlobalGiving will provide a bonus for each donation. The more donations, the more the kindergarten gets! 

Your donation will ensure that the kindergarten can continue to serve the children of Al Aqaba and the surrounding villages. Thank you so much for your support!

So wonderful to serve breakfast every day!
So wonderful to serve breakfast every day!
Menaishe: za'atar makes you smarter
Menaishe: za'atar makes you smarter
Satain!  Bon Appetit!
Satain! Bon Appetit!
Delicious!
Delicious!
Best breakfast ever!
Best breakfast ever!

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Walk with Youth for Peace: Invite from Al Aqaba
Walk with Youth for Peace: Invite from Al Aqaba

Good news: the breakfast club is going great at the Al Haj kindergarten! Children are enjoying the home-made meals, baked fresh in the professional kitchen of the Women's Association Building just next door, by Moms who are taking turns volunteering!

Sadly, in recent weeks, Al Aqaba has seen a growing number of harassments incidents, and for the first time since 2010, the Israeli Army issued demolition orders against a home and a barn.

That's why f
our teens from Al Aqaba are inviting you to join their Zoom tour of the village they love. They are asking you as a constituent and Congressional staff to press Israel's army to

  • lift the 96-hour demolition orders against a home and barn; and
  • visit to formally approve their village's zoning plan.

via Zoom

Please join youth in Al Aqaba this Wednesday
October 20th
9:00 AM Eastern / 8am Central / 6am Pacific time

REGISTER NOW

It was in 2008 when we first asked the children of Al Aqaba to make Pinwheels for Peace leading to a ruling by the Israeli High Court that stated, "For the time being, the center of the village will remain standing." This year, on the occasion of the International Day of Peace on September 21st , we asked the children of Al Aqaba, along with other children from across the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza, to join us for a Zoom meet-up. Also joining us were children from Medina Montessori and Al Fatih Academy in Virginia in the US. The children shared their visions of peace with one another.

Children from Al Aqaba opened up to us during that Zoom call. A little girl named May told us that hearing the soldiers training in the area scares her, especially through the night. Other children expressed their desire to have the right to education, the right to play, and to just simply live like all the other children in the world.

Shady, a high school student, said peace means “to be able to go to school without being harassed by the soldiers.” Recently, the Israeli soldiers fired teargas at the students from ad hoc military checkpoint (the very place that the High Court had them evacuate and demolish in 2002) while they were on their way to school, something that hasn’t happened in a very long time. Shady was also able to present his vision of peace to a Senator's staff in a briefing scheduled by a constituent.

The lawyer for the village took the 96-hour demolition order to the High Court (something prohibited by the Military Order 1797, by the way) and to our surprise the judge gave till the end of this month to rule on the cases, so that's our deadline.  So far 5 House and Senate offices will be sending their staff to the young people's tour on Wednesday.   Please join us.

REGISTER NOW

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Hammoudy made a friend that day
Hammoudy made a friend that day

Dear Friend,

It is with great sadness that I write to tell you of the passing of a great man. Rebuilding Alliance's partner and friend, Mayor Haj Sami, passed away today. His illness was very long and especially complicated due to paraplegia.

At the request of his family, Nejmah (our new Country Representative) and I had been working for months with him, his doctors, the Palestinian Ministry of Health, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, trying every which way to move him to a specialty hospital in Israel.  The permission finally came, but an hour after he suffered a heart attack.

Such a great man. Such an honor to know him. May Mayor Haj Sami rest in peace at long last, and may his wisdom and courage continue to guide and safeguard Al Aqaba Village and the homeland he so loved.

I look foward to sharing memories about this visionary man's life in the days to come.  Perhaps you met him personally during his U.S. speaking tour, or maybe you worked with him, or stayed in Al Aqaba at the guesthouse. If you have a special story that you would like me to share, please email me at contact@rebuildingalliance.org.

Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Sincerely,
Donna

Mayor Haj Sami opening our Architectural Charrette
Mayor Haj Sami opening our Architectural Charrette
The first three homes, designed in our charrette!
The first three homes, designed in our charrette!
Al Aqaba Children and the model village they built
Al Aqaba Children and the model village they built
Charrette Team & 1st village-issued BuildingPermit
Charrette Team & 1st village-issued BuildingPermit
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Rebuilding Alliance often refers to Al Aqaba Kindergarten as the beating heart of the village. Due to the kindergarten, the village's demolition orders were put on hold in 2008. To this day, the village and kindergarten remain and are such a model that Rebuilding Alliance brought Congressional staff there in February 2020 (just before COVID) to show them the remarkable investments that happened as a result of the kindergarten and its mayor.

Unfortunately, 53 schools in Area C are not so lucky and are currently at risk for demolition. Rebuilding Alliance's advocacy team is hard at work holding briefings for members of Congress in an effort to keep schools standing. Al Aqaba Kindergarten is an example of how schools built in the center of villages can make all the difference to help a community thrive. 

According to Human Rights Watch, “more than a third of the Palestinian communities in Area C, which constitutes 60% of the West Bank, do not currently have primary schools, and there are 10,000 children who go to school in tents or huts. About 1,700 children have been forced to walk 5 kilometers or so more to school because of road closures, lack of roads to cross [i.e. bridges and crosswalks], transportation, or other problems." 

A school's central location ensures that students don't have to travel far in difficult circumstances just to get an education. One of the schools at risk is Al Maleh in the Jordan Valley. Al Maleh students used to travel to Al Aqaba Kindergarten by bus through a checkpoint because there was no school in their village, which makes it all the more important to fight the demolition order for Al Maleh School. Al Aqaba Kindergarten's students used to come from five towns and villages.

In the meantime, Al Aqaba students are back at school with new PPE and social distancing requirements as pictured. Students are down to 50 from 160, partly because of parents concerned about safety and family finances as many have lost their jobs. Also, the Ministry of Education has opened competing kindergartens nearby that are free. The Ministry is adopting the Al Aqaba model to get a kindergarten in each village. 

The mayor and the kindergarten staff have been working hard to keep the school running. If you would like to sponsor an ongoing $50/month kindergarten scholarship, that would be much appreciated. Thank you so much for supporting Al Aqaba Kindergarten. Your support helps a generation of children start their journey into education and keeps this village standing.

Al Maleh School, at risk for demolition
Al Maleh School, at risk for demolition

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Organization Information

Rebuilding Alliance

Location: Redwood City, CA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @RebuildAll
Project Leader:
Donna Baranski-walker
Executive Director
Redwood City, California United States
$85,702 raised of $101,490 goal
 
1,146 donations
$15,788 to go
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