Real Lives

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Life is different

© UNICEF-oPt/2006/Steve Sabella

By Ibtisam Abu Shammala

Al-Mawasi, GAZA, May 2006 - Life has changed dramatically for 14-year-old Zainab since the Gaza disengagement in August last year.

Before the Israeli pull-out, Zainab, her parents and eight siblings lived under harsh conditions in the northern town of Al-Mawasi, a site of frequent and violent clashes. There were no televisions, electricity was available for only five hours a day, and most importantly, her father was not able to work.

Constant insecurity and frequent restrictions on movement impacted her studies as well. On average, she said, she missed about three days of school each month. Teachers also had difficulty getting to school. And while volunteers helped substitute for missing teachers, education quality suffered.

The Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip has made all the difference in Zainab’s world.

© UNICEF-oPt/2006/Steve Sabella

As part of a UNICEF programme to deliver comprehensive support to 10 schools in enclaves in Gaza that had been isolated for years until then, Zainab’s school received a computer lab, a library, text books, a television and a video recorder, sports equipment, uniforms, electricity generators and plenty of school supplies. UNICEF also provided training for around 40 teachers.

“I am doing much better in my school,” said Zainab.  “I have improved in Arabic and English as well as Math.” Her brother was also seeing improvements, she said.

She now enjoys watching television like other children her age.  “My favorite programme is on child rights,” she said. “I like it the most since it shows the importance of educating children on their rights so that they can help build their countries.”

She hopes to become a lawyer, she said. “When I grow up, I want to be like my Aunt Taghreed, who helps solve people’s problems.” 

UNICEF’s work in education in occupied Palestinian territory focuses on enabling students to continue studying, despite the ongoing conflict and restrictions on movement. UNICEF provides remedial education kits and a wide array of other education supplies, supports teacher training in child-friendly methodologies, and extra-curricular activities including art and sports.

Support to Zainab’s school was made possible by UK Committee for UNICEF




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