Gaza Preschool Gets a Colorful Facelift

February 14, 2010 ANERA
Education, Gaza, School Infrastructure
Gaza kids at Zakher preschool drinking fortified milk from ANERA's MfP program that also renovated the building. Gaza kids at Zakher preschool drinking fortified milk from ANERA's MfP program that also renovated the building.

It doesn’t take much to provide more comfort and protection for preschoolers. A simple sunshade in the play area can protect children from too much exposure to sun and heat. But without the funds for renovation, a simple repair like this was beyond reach for Zakher preschool in Gaza. Thanks to ANERA’s help, the school now has a sunshade over the play area and lots more.

Feryal Jondya, the preschool director in charge of the school and its 170 preschoolers, says she is thrilled with the new, clean facility. “I have been working here for six years and now can admire our clean bright classrooms. We moved into this building in 2008 because our original building was too small to accommodate all the children. There were so many other worries,” said Feryal, “we didn’t have the resources to make all the repairs.”

The renovation cost just over $10,000 but will have a long-lasting impact on hundreds of kids.

Looking at the new sunshade over the play area, Feryal added, “Time for play was always limited by the weather. In winter and summer, children were not allowed outside at certain times of the day to play because of the burning sun or because of the rain. I felt so bad for them. It was like depriving them of fresh air.” Now, Feryal says play time is not a problem. “Children can enjoy their time outside, along with their teachers, and it’s a nice break from their classes.”

Olfat, a teacher at Zakher since 2005, said “This reinforces the importance of recreation for our preschoolers, which distinguishes our school.”

And, she says the colorful classrooms make going to school a fun experience. The purple, blue and pink walls in the classrooms and at the entrances and exits have delighted both students and their parents.

Along with the new décor, there are essential practical additions too, like a water fountain. “Before the water fountain, we had to put bottles of clean drinking water and cups in each class room, Olfat explains. “Now, the children can take a drink just by pressing the button on the fountain.”

ANERA’s renovations included the installation of new separate bathrooms for the boys and girls, windows and door locks and a proper storeroom for the fortified milk and biscuits that are distributed through ANERA’s Milk for Preschoolers (MfP) program.

“During my visits during the past two years, I noticed the milk and biscuits were stored in a very small space and I was waiting for a chance to improve that,” said ANERA MfP field monitor Khalda Hamami. “So, when the renovation project began, I immediately recommended building a good storeroom for the supplies.”

Zakher preschool is located in the poor neighborhood of Shejaiya area, where most residents used to work in Israel and now are jobless. ANERA’s fortified snacks are an essential element of their children’s health because they can no longer afford buying milk and fresh foods.

Zakher’s renovation, which cost about $10,500, was funded by ANERA and the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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