Yesterday morning was one absolutely glorious morning for Yanoun!

We had the great joy of hosting the Ministry of Education of the Palestinian Authority, and representatives of the Japanese government and UNICEF in Palestine, for the official launch of a new school year in Palestine.

As well, Yanoun received a long-awaited — and desperately needed — new  school bus to transport its senior students to Aqraba.  This new bus is thanks to the generosity of the people of Japan and UNICEF.

The bus is a very big deal in this rather poor village, where maybe half the families of the village have old, beat-up small cars.  It’s a nicer bus than I ever rode to school.  And it has seat belts.  Yahoo!

I admire the generosity of Japan, given the mess it has to clean-up in its own backyard following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

For what may be Palestine’s smallest surviving village, this event was awesome.  Our mayor, Rasjhid Marrar was in fine form.  And one bonus in all this, is that such a high profile international event helps keep Yanoun on the map of Palestine.  (It came close to being wiped-out by Israeli settler attacks 10 years ago.)

It is also somewhat political (Isn’t everything in Israel and Palestine?!) for the P.A. to hold the event here.  Because upper Yanoun sits in “Area C” — which is a military controlled area — surrounded by settlement outposts (and a military post) which still would like to see Yanoun fully in their control, with all the villagers long gone.

We hope there are no reprisals for this.  But that would not be unusual!

Girl and boy scouts were out in full force from Aqraba, providing color party, drums, and leading the national anthem.  Yanoun students were all looking their very best, rolling with all the media attention and UNICEF photographers.  Their tiny four room school was “under the microscope.”

The men and women of Yanoun had slaughtered a few sheep and prepared an abundance of traditional Palestinian food for the occasion.

We welcomed Jean Gough, Special Representative of UNICEF in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; Hideaki Yamamoto, deputy representative of Japan’s Representative Office to the P.A., Lamis Alami, Minister of Education for the P.A., and our own Pauline Nunu, Director of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

The theme for the event was “My Right To Education — My right to safe access to school and to a child-friendly learning environment.”  One of the posters for the event had a large picture of four children with backpacks going through a military-security check-point. 

Below the same photo, on the cover of the press kit., was printed, “Many Palestinian children encounter access restrictions on their way to school in the West Bank.”  How very true!

I am delighted to share with my readers this good news story. In the midst of the Occupation, there are still many moments of celebration and delight.

Grace and peace,

Jim

 

I have been sent by the United Church of Canada to participate in the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).  Should you wish to re-post, or publicize any of this content, I welcome your direct request via the comments section of this blog.  Thank you!