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Sydneysiders help rebuild Palestinian school

Friends of Hebron Sydney is excited about its new project – supporting the rebuilding of a school in one of Hebron’s outlying villages*.

Hebron is a Palestinian city in the West Bank, 30 kilometres south of Jerusalem.

Last year, Israel’s military demolished the school buildings then confiscated tents provided as substitute classrooms, along with all the equipment, even the blackboards and chalk. Children finished the school year in a small tent, erected every morning then taken down and hidden in a cave at night.

A piece of land with a small building in a more secluded location was donated for use as a school and our partner organisation the Hebron International Resource Network (HIRN), secured donations from around the world to cover the cost of rebuilding.

Early in August, a brief email was sent to supporters, which said, “Pray for us … tomorrow we start the rebuilding process!”

Rosanna Barbero, CEO of Addison Road Community Centre, and Jennifer Killen from Friends of Hebron, were privileged to visit Palestine and see the work begin.

A few days later they were back in the village and the progress was amazing. The villagers were racing against time, working day and night work, hoping to finish before school started and the Israelis noticed. Fingers crossed.

Soon the school roof was up and a successful completion in sight. Tiling was finished in the two new classrooms finished and ready to go in the two older ones.

By this time Jennifer and Rosanna were back in Sydney but there was good news by email.

 “Today, we visited the school, our flagship project for the summer of 2019 and we cannot be any prouder. The progress in the school is MAGNIFICENT! There are 15 students between 1st and 4th Grade in addition to three students in kindergarten.

“More good news – now the village has a school again, a villager who moved to the city has decided to return with his five school-age children. As our motto goes …. build and they will come.”

But later in September the news was not so good.

“We are entering a danger zone that might lead to the demise of school (God forbid). The Israeli so-called ‘Civil Administration’, the entity in the Israeli Army which investigates and demolishes Palestinian ‘illegal’ construction in Area C, visited the school.

“Two jeeps associated with the Administration went to the school but the school administrator refused them entry as they were armed. The officers took a walk around the school and took some pictures. It is feared that they will be back soon with a Stop Work Order.”

We can only hope that this school will survive.

*The village is not named in this article to reduce the risk of another demolition.

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