Last week, after a morning making mud bricks we got our first look at two of the tent schools which operate in the valley. We have since visited the schools several times, usually equipped with lollies and always of course spending lots of time taking photos of beautiful children. Both are in the northern pa rt of the valley, north of the Hamra checkpoint.

Ein El Hilwe is a small community of about 70 – 80 people, situated near the roadside and directly below the Maskyott settlement. We arrived just as school had finished and two of the teachers were walking the children back to their homes. Fifteen 5-6 year olds attend the school, coming here from the homes beside the school and other families who live in the surounding hills and valleys. The school itself is a tent constructed of tarpaulin, and even in March it seemed to me to be unbearably hot inside. Outside the boundary of the school is designated by brightly coloured tyres, although there is no play equipment.

Our second school is at Mak-hul, a tiny community of a few tent homes, which is situated on the road which goes up to the army base near Hemdat settlement. The tent school here has been sewn using old hessian bags (humanitarian aid bags) which are stretched over a simple metal structure, and is tiny, currently serving about 5 to 6 children.

Jordan Valley Solidarity has supported the building of 7 schools up to now, and last week was the first time for the teachers from the schools have been brought together to discuss their work and plans at the Jordan Valley Friends Meeting House. The teachers, all female, are all volunteers and this is their individual and collective act of resistance – asserting the right of their communities and the children in the valley to an education.

So far we have only had limited time to talk to the teachers, but two of them wrote a short piece for us about themselves, which we’ve included here:

My name is Ghadeer Fuqha and I’m studying nursing in Ramallah and my home is in Ein El Beida. I love to travel all over the world – it is my favourite thing, and I love the children in this country. I am 23 years old and my family is two brothers and six sisters and my father work as a farmer and there is a supermarket there. My home is three storeys and my mother is very good and I love her. I hope to work in my job in future and I hope to visit your city. Good bye.
Yours sincerely,

My name is Lena and I study marketing in Tubas and I hope to work in my job and I like writing. I live in Ein El Beida and my brother study IT in university, my sister study Arabic (teacher). I come to the school every day except Friday and Saturday and there are fifteen children in this school.
Yours sincerely,

Next week, we plan to have an education day, when the Jordan Valley Solidarity volunteers will go to each of the schools to organise some activities with the children, interview the teachers, and find out about the local area. We hope to visit the schools in Ein El Hilwe, Mak-hul, Koursilyya, Al Auja, and Ka’abne.

The other two schools that Jordan Valley Solidarity helped to establish, in Al Jiftlik and Fasayil Fouqa are now well established and thriving.