Today we went with Dr Mona El Farra to visit the Never Stop Dreaming childrens center in Khan Younis and the New Horizons childrens center in Nuseirat. Both of these projects are excellent facillities which provide a safe space for the children of these areas to play and learn in an environment which is happy and supportive. They both cater for children between the ages of 6 and 14 and have separate areas for play with toys provided, reading or being read to for the younger children with libraries, art rooms and cultural education teaching the children folk dance and folklore. When I was in Gaza in 2008 we also visited the New Horizons Center and the children performed a play and danced traditional dances for us.
I was very impressed by the energy and enthusiasim within the centers with the children engrossed in their activities and happily playing drawing, painting and being read stories. They seem to be havens for them, coming to meet their friends and spending time there even though today must have been a particularly difficult journey in with strong winds sweeping Gaza and heavy rain for much of the day. The children have to walk in from the surrounding area and when I was walking to our meeting place today I had to struggle against the wind with sand being driven by the wind into my face making it a cold and uncomfortable walk. Nobody was out today unless they had to be with the streets empty but many children had made their way to the centers and the volunteers who run them were all there. We had considered not making the journey due to the difficult conditions but were extremely pleased that we did.
Both of these centers are run mainly by volunteers and the obvious care and commitment by these adults is tremendous, they are working hard to give the children a happy and positive experience with very little facilities. They are also careful to have no political overtones within the centers, allowing the children to simply be children without the cares and worries of the outside world. Sheffield PSC are the main supporter of the Never Stop Dreaming Center and a contributor to the New Horizons Center, fundraising hard to provide the toys and books for the children to use. You can see pictures of the centers on the Sheffield PSC website.
By Theresa in Gaza