Monday, May 31, 2010

Freedom Black Day

Today morning I got up on the horrific news about the Freedom Flotilla cargo ships. I haven’t expected that Israeli terrorists will deal with the Peaceful activists in this bloody way, they attacked them without caring about law nor humanity. I used to know that Israeli soldiers can easily kill Palestinians but to kill International activists who come to support people under siege and break it ... I cannot believe that but it's the truth . The Israeli navy killed more than 15 activists, detained others and the freedom ships. It's much obviously that Israelis are terrorists and act against humanity and human rights. They don't care about International law or they don't find anyone to stop them.... Who can Stop Israeli massacres against Palestinians and International Activist? Who can end the siege of Gaza? Who can end the Israeli Occupation of Palestine? If the leaders of this world don't want to stop the Israeli Terrorists, We are the people of this world must stop them. Everyone must take action against those terrorists to make this world safe and peaceful.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Shining Lights from out of the Darkness

Mohammed Al Majdalawi

This mother has three daughters and two sons. “When they ask me to teach them English and I cannot give it to them, they ask me why.” she exclaims. “I explain to them that it is because I spent my whole life under occupation but this does not explain things any further to them, they still ask me ‘Why?’ and I am shy that I have no answer for them.” For a myriad of reasons she had dropped out of her prep school aged 13. Her family hadn’t been able to support her studies, the transport restrictions with Israeli checkpoints, the curfews, the extra demands to help her family and community in these difficult times, not to mention the pressures around starting her own family. Now she is determined that her children can have the opportunities of which she was deprived.

“So I come here to learn English and I hope that this will be the last time that we live like this, forever”.

So our project is intent on teaching English to women and their children with Ajyal Association, called ‘Lets Learn English’ focusing on rural areas. This project is winner of Youth for Change project and implemented in Ajyal Association for Creativity and development in the east of Gaza city. The project is funded by Takingitglobal , Bibliotheca Alexandrina , Zaatar Organization , Ajyal Association for Creativity and Development , and Palestine Youth Committee

During my work as both an assistant coordinator for English language teaching and as a documentary film director, I saw the hopes in the faces of many women and their children who want to speak and learn English. In this project we aim to teach children and their mothers, exploring creative ways such as songs, videos and participation in group and partner activities. We work with volunteers like social workers and English students in universities, using simple materials like my laptop, even recording songs mixed in Arabic and English.

For example, the song ‘baba means father, and mama means mother’. This is part of the lyrics of a song about names of family members and the kind of tool used for children and their mothers to use and remember them. Our group of trainers work together to design these classes, such as the personal information in English segment. Again we didn’t have the entire material available, but that didn’t stop us from creating our own materials from simple equipment

It is a delight when we saw mothers challenging each other, one asking the other in arabic, “If you’re so good at speaking English, can you translate ‘I’m drinking tea’?”, to which the woman replied, yes, “I am drunking tea”

It was one of many funny incidents as the women show no fear in their attempts to speak English. Another woman said not only was she continuing the teaching of English at home to her children, she had even begun to teach her husband too.

Sarah, a coach in the ‘Let's Learn English’ projects spoke about how the teaching methods were sinking in:

“When we had a revision class on days and months, colors, body, and time, I wrote on the board the letters of the alphabet and told the women to write a word for every letter. Many women specifically remembered the words taught in the class.

The Children in the Project

Another coach Shahd, describes his experience with the children from the ‘Let's Learn English’ project:

“Amani Abdelal is a very cute girl. She was waiting for me in front of the Ajyal Association, the Creativity and Development building. When she saw me coming, she ran to me to give me this card with a very pure smile. I was surprised by her kindness and very impressed by the simple way she had designed my name. I thanked her and asked her why she had made this beautiful card for me. She answered me saying that she loves me and loves learning English in this project. They were very simple words full of innocence. However, she affected me very much and she let me feel the taste of success.”

As a Palestinian in Gaza under a siege, a military occupation and still reconstructing our lives after the bombings in early 2009, I believe we must do what we can on the ground to bring a smile to people, giving them the benefits of the English language in a creative way. I also appeal to the international community and people who love peace and freedom to break the silence, take moral and legal action towards the people of Gaza, demanding the provision of basic needs, the minimum of international protection and work to support the rights of Palestinian people which for so long have been deprived, especially for children. Our children are our future, so we must work together so that we can make this future better than the present. The Universal declaration of Human Rights states that all children should have the right to education, and Palestinian children are as deserving as any others.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It’s Not Just Teaching English

If you just read the project name, a normal class room with a teacher writing on the board will be the first thing comes to your mind. But no, for us it’s much more than that.

The targeted groups of Let’s Learn English project are the simple people who live in marginal area. The majority of them are poor. Families don’t own money to pay fees around 100$ to get English course in special institute. They don’t have computers in their houses. They also live sad situation as all Palestinians. Moreover, they live under the Israeli Siege on Gaza since 2006. They have lived under fire for 22 days in the last Israeli war on Gaza.

The main issue of Let’s Learn English project is Education. We work as a team to achieve other issues: Human Rights, they have the right of Education and Play. Besides, we try to facilitate Education by using technology and media in workshops. For example, we use the LCD, laptop, video, song and game in order to make Education process easy and interested.

In addition to peace and conflict issue, we deal with children, mothers and youth have been affected by Israeli Occupation in several and horrible ways. I have noticed through my experience in social work that people usually participate in psychosocial support projects and they asked them to talk about their suffering or they benefit from emergency and humanitarian aid programs. Honestly, they need that, but they also need projects that educate them about their needs and promote them to play a good role in the society.

In the Let’s Learn English project, we work with women to enable them finding the strength and power in themselves to help their children in studying. They need projects that tell them about the hope in the future not talking all the time about the sad memories. We are working to change the stereotype about the Palestinians that they are terrorists. We want to show the beautiful photos of our children when they are happy in learning about months by drawing on balloons not the usual bloody photos.

Palestinians must prove to the world that we are educated people and we deserve to live just like others. These women and children are real examples of Palestinian’s desire to create the better future, but the only thing standing in their way is ISRAEL.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Many thanks Tom

Adham Khalil is one of the great young advocates of nonviolent social change in Gaza today. Here is a brief clip from the forthcoming Joe Public Films documentary on Gaza.

Adham Khalil, AFSC-Gaza from Joe Public Films on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Let's Learn English Project

During our follow up to English teaching in Palestinian schools in the Gaza Strip, we have noticed that teachers use the old and normal teaching methods. As a result of that, students become uninterested in English language and they get low marks in English subject. In addition to the absence of families awareness of English language and teaching methods which affect negatively on their roles in helping their children to learn positively and do their home works.
Children are more interactive with games, music, and activities. So that, they will like to learn English if we use these methods through the process of education.

Objects of the project :
• Enhance the capacity of 7 English students in teaching English.
• Improve English language for 60 children .
• Improve English language for 60 women.
• Improve English language for 60 families.
• Improve English language for 30 youth.

This project is winner of Youth for Change project and implemented in Ajyal Association for Creativity and development in the east of Gaza city. The project is funded by Takingitglobal , Bibliotheca Alexandrina , Zaatar Association , Ajyal Association for Creativity and Development , and Palestine Youth Committee.
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