By Mary Witherspoon and Abla Nasir
The girls in their white blouses and blue pleated skirts with black hair, mostly in neat thick braids and boys standing tall in their dark trousers and starched white shirts welcomed with warm smiles a group of middle-aged women from the United States who had come to visit Rawdat El Zuhur School.
They proudly demonstrated skill with the computers in the lab and led us through the lower school where yoin love and unger students were hard at work with brightly colored blocks, colored markers, and story books in Arabic. We passed the “Virtue” tree, where each week a student chooses a “virtue”—goodness, kindness, truthfulness, creativity ,honesty, etc., which will be the focus of the school for that week.
From there we were invited into a large room with sound equipment and musical instruments on the stage at one end. These young people demonstrated typical Palestinian music and dance in a performance which they had perfected over many weeks. We were inspired.
Inspiration is really what the school does best.
Abla Nasir – president of the school’s board – says the staff strives to maintain a haven of peace in the midst of social and political injustice.
“Easter,” she says, “is the celebration of life and hope. We at Rawdat El Zuhur, strive to keep hope alive in our children through good quality education that will help for them a better life. We provide many opportunities for growth in love and dignity and lead by example.
“I don’t have to describe the difficulties and challenges that our children face just to have a “normal” life. Our life under military occupation is like a daily “way of the cross.” Such a life can drag us down toward despair and hopelessness. But as the resurrection is God’s promise of life, we, at Rawdat El Zuhur, hold onto the light that one day justice will prevail and the truth will set us free.”
Such hope is tangible.
The memory which lingers and still brings tears to my eyes and a lump into my throat occurred in a classroom where the students joined hands with each other and with us to sing, in English, “We shall overcome,” from the American Civil Rights Movement. As I looked into their confident faces, I prayed that it would be so and soon.
Martin Luther King said that the arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Rawdat is part of a great movement to direct that arc toward justice.
Educating both Christian and Muslim boys and girls together, honoring the heritage of all their students, teaching Christian values, emphasizing the universal value of the arts, Rawdat moves on in the face of all the obstacles that make life difficult for Palestinians.
I am making a tax-deductible donation to Pal Craftaid designated for the Rawdat School, and I hope that you will be able to do so too.
Each year, the Pal Craftaid Board runs a campaign to support a humanitarian effort in Palestine. The Rawdat School is a longtime friend of Pal Craftaid. To send donations to the school, mail your contributions to: Virginia Priest, 3520 N. 30TH St., Tacoma, WA 98407.
Please designate each check for the Rawdat campaign.