|wall painting at Jeel al-Amal|
At the school we hear a ten minute talk from Najwa, the daughter of Alice and Basil Sahhar, Christian Palestinians who founded the school and home in 1972. And she asks those questions: In what language does a child cry? Isn’t a smile the same in any language?
This home and school was originally for boys, but now there are girls as well. After the talk we have a tour of the building. We see the colorful dormitories and school rooms, the playground and even the laundry! We watch some children painting in the playground and hear a group singing to us with such joy and energy. Many of the children seem very happy; others are quiet and withdrawn. The pain I could see in the eyes of one of the little girls was to haunt me for days afterwards, and I don’t think any of us leave with dry eyes. I have to walk away, quite overcome by it all.
The running costs of this beacon of light in an otherwise troubled land are found by the Educational Trust formed by McCabe, our pilgrimage tour operators. The school is affiliated to the Palestinian Education Authority which pays the teachers’ salaries. One hundred boys live in the Home and three hundred children are educated in the school, coming from Jerusalem and from towns and villages in the Palestinian territories. We learn that many of these children are orphans or have endured terrible domestic problems. Several of us have brought gifts with us, which are hugely appreciated. This explains why one person in our group struggled with a guitar in their luggage all the way over here! I had wondered. Now I know. What a wonderfully inspirational place to support; what a splendid way to demonstrate the love and compassion of Christ.
|painting in the Chapel of the Angels|