Nour is a sassy, confident little girl in New Askar Preschool in New Askar refugee camp in Nablus.
She and her best friend, Abdallah, run into their school all smiles and enthusiasm, ready to learn and have fun.
Last year, Nour wasn’t happy with the paint that, in her words, was falling apart in her preschool’s hallway. “The swings were no good to play on and the toys looked old.”
“The mold suffocated us,” explained Headteacher Najwa Basha. “The drinking taps were old and broken, and out of children’s reach. The playground was just unsafe. The walls and tiles were very dirty. The preschool just felt tiny and like it was falling apart.”
According to Suleiman Mleahat, ANERA’s education program manager, the preschool was “in desperate need for quality space, essential for optimum learning.”
ANERA has transformed the school. Now, Nour, Abdallah and their friends enjoy freshly painted walls, an upgraded playground, new tables and chairs, playful curtains, interesting story books, art materials, thought-provoking toys and learning games, and other classroom equipment. The children also have clean bathrooms that are especially designed for them. New carpets, light fixtures, cubbies, shelves, and even easels and art-drying racks adorn the rooms. And the windows have been fixed to keep out the cold in winter.
The lobby is painted in waves of light pink, blue and green and the classrooms are painted with pink, green, yellow and blue. “I like these nice colors,” says Abdallah. They create a comfortable and energetic atmosphere to learn better and interact more with his friends and teachers. “I am much happier this year,” reports Abdallah.
“The playground’s nicer too,” Nour points out. “They took the old swings and gave us new ones. When I used to play on the old swings, the teacher had to sit two other kids on my left and right and I did all the work,” says Nour. “Now I can enjoy the swing all by myself. And we don’t have to go down the slide slowly anymore.”
Three other preschools located in Nablus and Bethlehem were also upgraded under ANERA’s Early Childhood Development program, but New Askar, being part of a refugee camp, was most disadvantaged and in desperate need of help.
According to the headteacher, the children have been surprising her and other teachers with their vast creativity. “The renovation and resources have unleashed their talents and gifts. The surprises never end!”