Sunday 23 November 2014

Travel Brochures

Today the boys at Abu Dis Boys School the children designed a travel brochure. They had to persuade people to come and visit Palestine.

Many of them discussed Palestine's hot weather, famous landmarks (like Al-Aqsa Mosque) and the friendly nature of all of the people.

They all also mentioned Palestine's food, one of my favourite aspects of the country. They said how the food was delicious and encouraged people to come and try things like mansaf, maqlouba, knafeh and falafel.

Friday 21 November 2014

This week at Abu Dis Boys School, the students wrote letters to children in England about their lives in Abu Dis. The pupils brought up the usual topics of sport, food and games - and, naturally, a lot of them mentioned the hardships that the Israeli occupation has on their lives and education.

Each of the children then read out the favourite thing that they wrote down.

My favourite was 14 year-old Kalam's, who wrote: I am happy resisting the occupation by knowledge and education.

The children had free reign on how to present their letters and Mohammad wrote his inside a heart. It was particularly nice to read his, as just a few weeks before Israeli soldiers had invaded the school and fired tear gas canisters on the playground - one of which struck his shoulder.

14 year-old Mohammad (right) who was struck by an Israeli tear gas canister whilst playing on the playground.

Saturday 18 October 2014

Qais and Adam from Abu Dis Boys' School visit Camden

In early October,  school students from Abu Dis Boys' School and from the Arab Institute were part of a CADFA group of visitors to London and the north of England.  It was a great visit for them and for us in London. 

Their project blog is HERE.

As part of their visit they went to schools and youth clubs. This is a picture of them and school students at a school in Pendle, Lancashire.

In Camden, they met many young people and several students from LSU took part in the visit.  

Their visit included 

a lunchtime visit to LSU!

and an assembly at Camden School for Girls. The young people made a presentation about their lives in Palestine. After that they had a tour of the school and were really impressed.

Friday 18 April 2014

Tear Gas

Week 4. At the start of the week our session at Abu Dis Boys school was cancelled. The school had been tear gassed by Israeli soldiers. Apparently this is not a rare occurrence here, the school strongly resembles a prison due to a combination of security needs and lack of funding. This means there is nowhere for kids to escape when the air turns to poison. About 4% of the Abu dis boys are currently incarcerated in Israeli jails. Human rights violations are commonplace in these overcrowded underdungeons. Physical and mental torture, sometimes resulting In death, is utilised to punish the prisoners and coerce confessions. Stories are told of prisoners being beaten to death or having their families brought in, so their screams can be heard.The boys are there for petty crimes such as throwing stones at heavily armed soldiers. 

In an area rife with complex social and economic problems including the occupation I would argue a child's access to a decent education is more vital than back in the UK. How would you feel if your son's education was being routinely hampered by soldiers? This generations' education is a corner stone in the future peace of the region and if the soldiers here are working for peace they would also be working to protect a child's right to education.

The teachers are keen to improve the school however it is massively underfunded and evidence of this can be seen everywhere. Classrooms are somewhat bare and supplies are minimal if even available. This is the equivalent of working class but with none of the luxuries working class people in England generally receive, like stationary, uniforms and the opportunity of freedom. We've met boys who have come through this school and are now adults. None of them like the school, nor do they have positive things to say about the reputation of the school. It seems painfully obvious that they have come to realise that they could've had more. They could've worked harder. Their education could've been better if the occupation had not drained their land of opportunity. This is the most they are given, when we live in a world where people can buy islands, the young men of Abu Dis must find their own way.

Tuesday 17 December 2013


Today was the last day for me at Abu Dis Boys School. For the past three months I have really enjoyed working with the students here who are full of ideas and have been so welcoming. I would have liked to have had more sessions with them, but due a combination of the teachers strike, clashes and storm Alexa last week, I have not been there for a while. Now the school must catch up on work that has been missed and prepare for exams now until the end of January. Instead we will try to organise extra classes in Darasadaqa.

Whilst saying "goodbye" to Abu Dis Boys, it was also a time to say "hello" to the new volunteers in Abu Dis. I'm sure that Lawson and Robert will do great work at this school and be welcomed too.

Sunday 17 November 2013


Today the Boys made menus for a Palestinian restaurant. First they thought of a name for their restaurant and then they chose food they wanted to serve at the restaurant. They restaurant had choice between a starter, main course and a desert, followed by a selection of drinks. They also put the price of the food. 

Tuesday 5 November 2013


Today the boys from grade 7 were asked what they knew about London. Some of them thought that London had 6,000 people, so they were very surprised to find that London is a big city of over 8,000,000 people. That is more than the whole population of Palestine in one city! The boys had heard of Big Ben and knew about the Olympics. During the 2012 Games they watched swimming, javelin, running, basketball and tennis. When I showed them a picture of 'my house' they were very surprised at how big it is. This is because in actual fact I showed them a picture of Buckingham Palace. I told them that if I ever become King they will all be invited to stay there. Then the bell rang and it was the end of class. Their homework is to look at this blog... lets see if they remember.

Maybe the classes in London can tell us what they think about Palestine?