Advancing Women Leadership and Empowerment Through Infrastructure in Palestine
Anera with support from USAID is currently building an additional floor at the Rosary Sister's School in Gaza City. The new floor will provide five new classrooms which will each accommodate 25 students. The project also includes new administration rooms.
Waheba’s name means ‘giving.’ And that’s exactly what Ms. Waheba Abu Motlek does for a living and for the people of Gaza. Born and raised in Algeria, Waheba moved to the Gaza Strip in 2000 and considers Palestine to be ‘her home away from home.’ However, transitioning from Algeria to Palestine was no easy feat. She has been working at the Rosary Sister’s School in Gaza City since 2001. She worked hard to become their director of the English and French Department and the training director for the school’s Model United Nations Program.
Being a woman in a male-dominated society has made life challenging. There was also the language barrier she had to knock down. But she quickly proved herself.
“I was a fish thrown into an ocean and forced to learn how to swim. It wasn’t easy. It was really hard for me. But thank God, I say, ‘look at what I have accomplished.’ I could have easily given up if it weren’t for my inner strong woman telling me to keep going.”
Two years ago, the school added a scientific track for the Palestinian college entrance exams and this year, the school will add a humanities track. Offering both tracks removes previous experiences of heartache and sorrow, says Waheba.
“Most of our students are with us from kindergarten. We work so hard on them and we build a bond with them throughout the years. It’s sad for me to see these students who grew up right before my eyes then hit tenth or eleventh grade and have to leave, not because we don’t have the skills, but because we didn’t have the capacity."
Anera with support from USAID is currently building an additional floor at the Rosary School. The new floor will provide five new classrooms which will each accommodate 25 students. The project also includes new administration rooms. All told, the additional space will provide learning opportunities to 125 girls and boys per year.
One of Waheba’s projects that will greatly benefit from the new space is her Model UN, which allows children from Gaza to learn about the United Nations, world issues, international relations and ways to promote peace through cooperation and diplomacy. “We do Model UN each year but struggle because of the lack of space. Now, with the expanded building, I have the space to develop my ideas, host other schools, and expand the program.”
In the meantime, Waheba finds herself daydreaming about next year’s graduation as a result of the two new study tracks and additional space. “I can imagine next year’s graduation is going to be a special one for everyone.”
Aside from getting through life by being a proud and hardworking woman, Waheba lives by these words of the thought leader Roy T. Bennett and hopes others will too: “Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
Waheba’s work at the school has gained her great admiration from the Gaza community. “People respect me because I proved myself and was able to change the mindset of many people. It is important to prove your existence wherever you are and the way you want people to see you.”
This program is part of Anera’s USAID-funded Palestinian Community Infrastructure Development Program, which has built a strong reputation throughout Palestine by providing essential education, water, health, and community infrastructure projects.