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Amari Today

By Muna Khleifi, Amari Play Center supervisor

The Amari Play Center is located in the United National Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) School for Girls in the Amari Refugee Camp, Ramallah, Palestine. Since its establishment in 1974, the Amari Play Center still serves the kids of the refugee camps by providing a preschool education for five-year olds.

For the scholastic year 2009-10, 36 children were enrolled. All of them live in Amari Refugee Camp.

One main teacher and two assistant teachers take care of the children daily from 7:30 in the morning until 1:30 in the afternoon, five days a week from Sunday–Thursday. The main teacher has been working here for about 30 years. The two assistant teachers have worked here for six years.

Cooperation with UNRWA

All activities are well communicated to the camp leader and well advertised through the UNRWA Camp Leader office. Starting in January 2009, a program was implemented with the Social and Welfare office at UNRWA, in which a social worker from UNRWA comes to the Play Center two or more times in order to conduct awareness sessions with the kids on issues like self-esteem, self-protection, communication with teachers and parents and peers. All skills are developed through arts activities. The social worker meets with parents (mainly mothers) to give awareness sessions on child behavior and conduct.

Most of the daily needs of the Play Center — from cleaning supplies, bread, stationery, sugar, tea, coffee and sandwiches — are bought from the small shops in the Refugee Camp. By doing this, we help the small shops to keep running in the Refugee Camp and we contribute to the ongoing economy of the Camp.

Sandwiches and milk are still provided for the students. They receive sandwiches twice a week and milk three times a week. In addition, we ensure that bread and some Zeit (olive oil) and Za’atar (herbs that are added to spices and dipped in olive oil for sandwiches) are available at the Play Center in case there are children who come without sandwiches.

Certificates are given to the students at the end of the school year. The certificates are presented to the schools where the children will enroll. Most of them go to UNRWA School for Girls and UNRWA School for Boys.