Five years after the passing of former Anera president Dr. Peter Gubser, his daughters could not think of a better gift to honor the memory of their beloved father than a Palestinian school.
“The projects he worked on were very varied, but the ones that stood out to us were focused on education,” explained his daughter Sasha who lives in the United States. “He truly believed that education acts like a backbone to support a person’s potential.”
Sasha explained how so many friends and colleagues of her father had contributed to the special fund because they wanted to support his vision and what Anera could do with it. “Our family was overwhelmed by the generosity of all those who loved and respected him and chose to donate.”
Choosing a Palestinian School for the Project
After careful deliberation and research, Anera’s Education Committee chose a project that would help both children and teachers: a rehabilitation project at UNRWA’s Refugee Women Training Center (RWTC) preschool at Al Tireh, Ramallah. RWTC is the first institution in the Middle East to offer teacher training and vocational courses for refugee women. It was established in the 1960s. The center is at the heart of Ramallah, the most prosperous city in the West Bank that many consider an intellectual, educational and cultural incubator.
Anera undertook the center’s rehabilitation as part of its Early Childhood Development (ECD) program’s initiative “Right Start!” The program is designed to develop ECD in the West Bank and Gaza through school rehabilitation and teacher training.
The head teacher-trainer has also undertaken a teacher training course with Anera to guarantee the project’s long-term sustainability. “This program helps develop young children’s growing minds and also prepare young teachers for a changing world, it felt like a really good match to what was important to our father,” explained Peter Gubser’s second daughter Christie.
Celebration, Remembrance and a Trip to Palestine
Sasha and Christie Gubser were able to travel to Al Tireh to celebrated the successful rehabilitation. It was their first trip to the Middle East since childhood. And, it was their first trip to Palestine, which they both described as an emotional visit. Sasha told the audience gathered for the celebration, “It is very meaningful to both of us to be invited here today and to see something tangible to represent my father’s vision.”
After the ceremony, Sasha and Christie couldn’t wait to meet the children and joined a group that was busy playing with colorful building blocks. Both Christie and Sasha are young mothers whose youngest children are four years old. “They would be here at this school too. They are also in early childhood education,” said Christie with a smile. Christie is herself an elementary school teacher. Her sister Sasha is a doctor. Gathered in the rehabilitated outdoor playground, the Gubser sisters surprised the children with colored pencils and other gifts.
A plaque on the school’s wall honors Peter Gubser. “Our father would be thrilled to see this preschool rehabilitation completed,” expressed Sasha. “And seeing the plaque on the wall is the permanent reminder of his devotion to human rights and equality.”