A Profile in Passion for Gaza’s Children
Anera’s Early Childhood Development Program Feeds Preschoolers and Fuels Their Development
Suad Lubbad’s personal mission is to help encourage young Palestinian children to grow, learn and develop the skills they will need to build their future. As a program officer with Anera’s Farms to Fosool (“classrooms” in Arabic) project, her priority for preschoolers is a nourishing, well-balanced meal. Here is her story in her own words.
The importance of children having a healthy lunch every day cannot be underestimated. The meal provides the energy they need to focus and learn. Well-developed children can grow into stronger, intelligent young adults who are able to contribute to their families and their communities. And, for me, the smiles on their young faces warm my heart.
But, here in Gaza, it’s a challenge to sustain a proper learning experience, in part because of the shortage of learning materials and containers for those healthy meals. That’s due mainly to the closure that has isolated Gaza for more than a decade. We never seem to have enough sturdy food containers or learning materials to go around.
But we have a saying in Arabic that says every bad thing holds something good inside.
We have found some creative ways to deal with the shortages. Our program is simple: “It’s not just a meal” relies on wise conservation and recycling. For example, we give our preschoolers something to eat as soon as the food arrives at the kindergarten so the meals don’t need to be stored for long. And, we make sure the food containers are recyclable. Why? Because the metallic inside wrapping can also be turned into learning materials themselves – to write or draw on, from learning the alphabet to making fun designs. The preschoolers also can use cleaned recycled containers to plant seeds and learn about healthy vegetables their families can grow at home. They get so excited watching the seeds sprout and grow.
My next challenge is to get children away from unhealthy foods such as candies, chips, marshmallows and more. And, I want to interact more with parents and farmers as part of an overall nutrition program, from farm production to consumption. Encouraging them to recycle food and supplies is also part of the cooperative effort.
Our priority now is to help combat child malnutrition and anemia. I feel so strongly about overcoming our challenges here in Gaza so I can help protect our children’s health and well-being and give them the tools they need to learn and grow and build a future.”
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