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Helping children in Gaza get ready for school

Photo: / AFSC

 

Help buy school supplies for children in Gaza

In May 2021, Israeli air raids destroyed many homes and schools in the Gaza Strip. The attacks came as the COVID-19 pandemic was already preventing many students from attending school.  

“The school was targeted several times by Israeli forces,” she told us. “Some students were injured during the Israeli attack on Gaza in May 2021.” Despite the obstacles, she is among the many people working to ensure that as many Gazan children as possible have the opportunity to go to school.  

Mr. Maher Abdullah, Education Cluster Representative in Gaza, is working for greater access to education, too. He is all too aware of barriers families face. He recently shared some information from a Multisectoral Needs Assessment (MSNA). “In Gaza, 31% households reported having trouble meeting essential education needs,” he says. That includes tuition fees as well as basic supplies like stationery and books.  

The people of Gaza have been living under a brutal blockade for over 16 years. People cannot enter or exit Gaza freely. They are cut off from extended family. Traveling to work, study, or receive medical care is often impossible. Traveling to take a vacation is a distant dream. The blockade also bans both the import and export of goods. The economy has been devastated. Over 80% of the population now rely on international assistance to survive.   

Repeated attacks on Gaza have made matters even worse. At least 331 schools were damaged last year. Students’ studies were interrupted. Poverty deepened. Today over 425,000 Palestinian children in Gaza need humanitarian assistance to attend school.   

The educators and partners we’ve talked to have shared that there is a huge need to encourage student's enrollment in the education system, especially for primary school grades 1-3. That’s why AFSC is starting a new project in Gaza this year.  

Our Gaza team has conducted an assessment and is working with school administrators and partners to identify families who could especially benefit from assistance. In the months ahead, we will be raising funds, purchasing supplies, and putting together back-to-school kits. The kits will include items like book bags, paper, pencils, markers, textbooks, and school uniforms. Later in the summer, we will work with our partners to deliver the kits to those who need them. These supplies will be a big help to families and will help children attend school with dignity.  

We know that providing aid is a short-term solution. In the long term, families in Gaza need both the blockade and the occupation to end. That’s why I hope you will help make a difference in two ways: Join us in providing Palestinian children with back-to-school kits that their families cannot afford. And then join us as we demand an end to the blockade. Together we can help make people’s lives better in the present and push for sustainable changes that bring justice and peace.  

Thank you for your support. 

About the Author

Mike Merryman-Lotze is the American Friends Service Committee’s Middle East Program Director.  He coordinates AFSC’s Israel and Palestine focused advocacy and policy programming, working closely with AFSC’s offices in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and throughout the US.