For the past five years, Inshirah has been offering motherly love to many children outside of her home in her work as a preschool teacher. She describes the world of children as inspirational and spontaneous and welcomes each day in which she can see the smiles on such young faces. "Children are the beauty and blessing of life. With them I feel happiness and excitement. They inspire me every day."
In the aftermath of the 2014 Gaza war, Inshirah is increasingly concerned about Gaza children losing their sense of security. She sees more signs of stress in the preschoolers: bed-wetting, clinging to parents, and fear of loud sounds or winter storms.
Like so many families in Gaza, Inshirah faces different levels of challenges, from poverty to war to crippling blockade. Her husband has been unemployed since he sustained wounds in the 2008 war. He used to work as a mechanic, but now Inshirah’s work is the family’s only source of income. The family depends on welfare and other assistance to survive since teachers only earn about $50 a month.
Inshirah says she is lucky because her house was not badly damaged, but the daily power outages and lack of reliable access to potable water make daily life a challenge. So do the economic strains and poverty that shape daily life in her community.
Despite her personal challenges, Inshirah has always wanted to serve her community as a teacher, a profession she has dreamed of since childhood. The graduate of Al Azhar University in Gaza also loves art and has found a way to combine both passions by applying her creative talent to designing games and art projects for her young students.
Helping Children Deal with Traumas of War
To help her preschoolers get through the traumas, she has intensified her connections with each child through storytelling and a persistence in keeping an eye open for those who need some extra support. She watches for signs of trauma: fear of the dark, lashing out or indications of violence at home. Through stories and active learning, she tries to help the children work through their emotions. She often involves parents and counselors in her efforts.
"Teachers are positively accepted in the community, but I wish our efforts could be a model for parents and other caregivers so we can unite around protecting our children’s rights.” To keep up to date with her teaching skills, Inshira participated in recent training classes through Anera's early childhood development program.
Inshirah explains that the first week of preschool is always the hardest. “The kids cry and don’t want to leave their mothers,” she says, and then adds with a smile,“In a few weeks, the same kids don’t want to leave school, even during vacations.”
For Inshirah, her favorite time of the day is when she can get down on her hands and knees and play with the children. She remembers when she was a child playtime was frowned upon as a waste of time. Parents and teachers focused on homework and more serious activities. Today, as a teacher, she wants her children to enjoy playtime. And, she laughs, she enjoys it too. “When I play with the little ones now I enjoy it as much as they do.”
Adventure and curiosity have been the driving force behind her endless enthusiasm to learn more about her children. Inshirah’s life is shaped by adversity, but she says working with children is her salvation. “I prefer to see challenges as life adventures,” she says. “Working with children, entering their world of curiosity and simple pleasures, gives me the strength to face any challenge."
“Every morning when school begins, the children are like my own and I do all I can to care for them and show them love and affection until they wave good-bye at the end of the day,” says Inshirah. “They also teach me so much, from patience to honesty and more.”
Inshirah dreams of opening her own preschool one day so she can put her knowledge and experience to work in the service of Gaza’s children.