Preschool Renovations Underway in Gaza
“Turning a prison into a paradise.” This is how Eman El Dena, director of Karameesh preschool in Rafah described ANERA’s renovation of her preschool when she first saw the new additions.
Since 2009, ANERA has renovated over 60 preschools in Gaza, with funding from private donors, foundations, the UN and USAID.
Eman studied community education and has spent 23 years working in preschools. Three years ago Eman was promoted to director of Karameesh preschool, where she has always worried about the safety and comfort of the preschool children in the old dilapidated building where the school was located. The walls had not been repainted for years, the playground equipment was outdated and broken, and the bathrooms were in bad shape.
When Eman heard that her preschool had been selected for ANERA renovation, she was relieved and facilitated the work of engineers to complete the renovation as soon as possible. Before the renovation, Eman explained the school was in very bad shape. “We had obsolete bathrooms and the only water fountain was made of mud and sheets. It was hard to keep up a high degree of hygiene.”
“What ANERA did is great. I can’t describe this as just a renovation, it is a total transformation of the preschool into a friendly, educational environment for the children,” she added.
Everyone who enters the Gaza preschool says it is like entering a whole new space. Walls are painted with vivid colors, new bathrooms have been installed along with a new drinking fountain for children, and the outdated playground equipment has been repaired and replaced.
“ANERA made the children’s safety the top priority. They replaced a wall of wicker with a real wall to separate the children from outside noises and create a safe space for their learning and enjoyment,” she added. There’s also an outdoor roof to cover the path between the classrooms and the bathrooms so the children stay dry when it rains.
The first days of school are always hard for the youngster but Eman says the colorful, renovated space has helped them feel at home. She says the new clean and painted classrooms also have attracted more children to the preschool and increased the number of families enrolling their children.
ANERA has already renovated five preschools this year with funding from Dubai Cares and has plans to upgrade more across Gaza in the coming months.