Saving Palestine Olive Trees as Part of School Repairs
Abed Abdelm’uti Abu Sneinih couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the truck pull up to the school in mid-July with more than a dozen 30-year-old olive trees. It was the final, joyful touch to ANERA’s renovation of the Al-Hussein Bin Ali Secondary School for Boys before it reopens in the fall.
Abu Sneinih is the principal of the Hebron high school that prepares more than 780 boys for university. The school’s first floor was built during the British Mandate in 1947. A second floor was added a year later when Jordan ruled over the West Bank and was inaugurated by the late King Hussein. “Most of Hebron’s leaders today graduated from this school,” Abu Sneinih said with great pride.
When decades-old olive trees were at risk, ANERA had them replanted as part of school repairs and upgrades.
But the 63-year-old institution was in dire need of repairs. With USAID funding, ANERA tackled the problem – replacing the dilapidated wooden auditorium stage with reinforced concrete and attractive tiles, rewiring the room and adding lighting fixtures and a proper emergency exit. “The auditorium serves more than just the students,” explained Principal Abu Sneinih. “Many community organizations hold their meetings here too.”
Palestine olive trees complete school infrastructure project
The $120,000 school renovation project also included upgrading the kitchen and bathroom facilities and playground area in the back of the school. But, ANERA engineer Mohamed Abu-Rajab wanted to improve the front courtyard too and came up with an ingenious plan. He knew of a nearby landowner who was selling his property for development. Abu-Rajab had noticed the beautiful olive grove that would almost certainly be destroyed. So he asked the landowner if he would be willing to sell them at a reasonable price to relocate them to the schoolyard to provide much-needed shade for the students. The answer was yes and ANERA purchased and transplanted the trees to enhance the school’s courtyard.
“You know, in Palestine olive trees are a symbol of peace,” said a smiling Abu Sneinih as he watched the first trees being lowered into the ground. “The trees provide a place of calm and relaxation for our students and visitors from the Palestinian community around us.”
Abu Sneinih said the renovation project serves more than just the school’s teenage students and faculty. “This project benefits all of Hebron because when we talk about improving conditions for nearly 800 students, we have to include their families and friends too and the community around them.”