Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to see the impact of our projects in the West Bank, including visiting this community development centre in the village of Emreha.
When we arrived at the community centre, we met Rana, one of more than 140 health care workers that have been trained by World Vision Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza through its Community Health Worker (CHW) programme. One of the many tasks of Rana and the other Community Health Workers is to provide pre-and-post natal counselling for pregnant woman and young mothers. Rana knows many of her clients intimately since she works with them throughout their pregnancies and until their newborns are at least 1-year-old. During this time, she visits each family twice per month to check on each child’s growth and the nutrition situation in the home.
“We are really urging women to breastfeed their babies to ensure they grow up strong and healthy,” Rana said. “Mothers giving their babies formula used to be very common here, but this is changing now as more and more women are made aware of the benefits of breastfeeding.”
The community centre also houses remedial education classes for 45 children in the community from grades three to nine. The classes, which are supported by World Vision, focus on Arabic and mathematics, and plans are underway to add English to the curriculum. The children go through 30 classroom sessions that last two hours each, using approved textbooks and a teacher certified by the Ministry of Education. Testing is done prior to the start of classes and each child is re-tested after the sessions are completed to measure his or her learning progress.
But there’s more to these classes than simply learning from textbooks. The children are also taught the importance of good hygiene and the need to keep as clean as possible, despite a lack of water and other essential items, such as soap in many of their homes. Despite these shortages, World Vision staff say teachers at the local school where the children attend on a full-time basis have noticed improvements in the hygiene of children who attend the remedial classes.
The kids in the classroom that I visited were enthusiastic in their praise for their teacher and the work they’re doing. Most of them say Arabic is their favourite subject, although there were a few who said they prefer math. They’re looking forward to the possibility of learning English as well, and are grateful for the support of World Vision and its sponsors to allow these classes to happen.