Promising Environmental Initiatives away from Israeli Funding in the School of” Dar AlTefl AlArabi”
By: Ruba Anabtawi
Dar-el-Tifel-el-Arabi School with its green spaces has become more attractive to its students
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons:
It’s impossible to talk about Palestinian steadfastness, in light of the Judaization campaigns in occupied Jerusalem, without referring mainly to Dar Altefl AlArabi School. This school’s name was associated in the late 1940s with the activist “Hind al-Husseini”, who sheltered the female orphans of Deir Yassin massacre in her home and later established an orphanage for Palestinian female orphans which expanded into a primary and secondary school for thousands of female students since 1948 until this day. From there, where history and memories merge with green initiatives in the squares and corridors of this institution, our report started:
The most prominent feature of the school is that it’s "pure Palestinian”, said Mahira Dajani, the eighty year old chairman of the board of directors who lives in the house of Hind AlHusseini’s grandfather where she carries out all of her administrative work. She added, “we will not accept taking from our enemies in order to stay, everybody is proud that we are insisting on our position despite the financial difficulties and pressure we are facing, anyone who got hurt by the occupation will never forget”. The question that comes to the mind of a lot of people” how does the school survive with the high living cost and the humiliating occupation? Dajani answered “we face difficult financial problems because we are a charity that relies on the donations of Palestinians in Palestine and abroad, we also have two committees in Jordan and Saudi Arabia who work to provide us with part of the donation.” Dajani pointed out that they have 83 female orphans, of which 14 live in the residential housing of the school.
Dar AlTifel institution, which is the first orphanage for females in the West Bank and Gaza, has a school, a kindergarten, a museum and Is’af Al Nashashibi Research center. Prior to the installation of checkpoints and the prevention of Palestinians from entering Jerusalem; the orphans living in the residential housing were 300 but today the number has significantly decreased.
Education and Green initiatives
Dajani, who has been the school principal since 1995, is honored that she has contributed through her brother’s friend’s donation of 35 thousand dollars on behalf of his daughter Salwa, in establishing a green garden at the school entrance after it was a dry barren land. The garden is now used as a place for workshops and educational and cultural activities. The green school has different types of trees, some of which are seven decades old, such as the cypress and pine trees, and other fruitful trees such as almonds, lemons, walnuts, grapes, olives, in addition to flowers, rare trees and aromatic plants such as Jasmine.
Promoting environmental Awareness
The school seeks to promote environmental awareness through conducting several environmental activities. Although they are small beginnings, these activities contribute to deepening the student’s environmental concepts. These initiatives started from scientific and recreational trips to Palestinian nature spots in order to deepen the national bonds with historical Palestine, planting vegetables and herbs inside the school, educating the students on manufacturing organic fertilizers, recycling candles and wax, making soap and using solar panels for clean energy.
Generating electricity from solar panels
After reading an article in the newspaper a few years ago on supporting students projects using solar energy, the schools’ interest in solar energy was sparked with the help of the physics teacher” Mohammaed Saraj” and an engineer form the electricity company “Ihab Totah” to supervise the scientific research conducted by students.
After researching the possibility of using solar energy in the school and its need according to the available space, it turned out that the school requires 100 KW monthly, but the current available supply only covers 35 KW. We got support from the electricity company who provided us with 17 kW monthly and promised to give us the same quantity in the future.
Sarraj and a number of teachers are encouraging the students to supervise the energy project that was launched in 2016 under the slogan “our school uses environmentally friendly energy”. AlSarraj added that after the installment of the solar panels, the students who worked on the research and who are now in the university were invited to the school to see their achievement. The school, according to Saraj, plans to provide 60KB units by covering the school yard and parking with solar panels. He assured that using these cells will reduce one-third of the school's consumption of electricity especially during winter and might be reduced to zero during the summer and school holidays
Dar AlTifel is a well-known school for its history associated with AlNakba and the suffering of the Palestinians, in addition to its presence in the history books, and even in the film "Meral"; it is a school that is still struggling to survive. Dajani concluded, “the school is on its way to developing environmental aspects by its female students who have to apply the learned agricultural and environmental behaviors to influence their society, and this is what we hope for."
Translated by: Ghadeer Kamal Zaineh