Efforts are underway to establish a non-profit education center in the Gaza Strip that will cater to some of the embattled region’s brightest young students. The project, entitled ‘The Voice of Gaza’ is the brainchild of South African educator, Barry Ackerman, now UK based, who has collaborated with Gazan counterpart, Abed Al Rahman Elderawi to assist youth in the troubled Middle Eastern state.
The planned center will seek to aid students in furthering their literary and writing abilities, as well as provide a chance for British and Palestinian students to interact. The facility will be aimed at students whose families are not by the means to afford an education, and who have been exemplary in their studies. They will be given the necessary skills needed to express themselves, and the trauma’s they have suffered under a constant state of war and oppression.
Ackerman, who was an educator at Harold Cressy High school for over a decade, serves as project coordinator. He had originally initiated contact with co-founder Elderawi following last year’s shocking assault on the region by Israeli forces. The duo had resolved to work together to try and provide better facilities and education, targeted at Gaza’s more talented and prodigious youth.
Their first notable challenge arose due to Gaza’s crippling electricity shortages, which effectively put a cork in plans to have their respective students interact via Skype. To work around this, they had resolved to communicate via video recordings instead.
“In that way our students have kind of got to know each other on a very basic level, and I’m kind of filling them in as we go along as to what the situation is actually like in Gaza,” he explained.
He said the ultimate goal would be to try and team up on some level, to have a center set-up within the conflict-ravaged coastal strip. His most immediate goal however was to raise $500, which would be sent to Elderawi so as to provide a more stable communication to start facilitating the project.
“It is extremely difficult to get anything in and out of Gaza, so you couldn’t exactly send a laptop in. You’d have to send the money and have them purchase one there; there are many restrictions as you know,” he noted.
Having used various social media platforms to promote their initiative, Ackerman said the response from the general public had thus far been underwhelming. He suspected this was down to the fact that there were already numerous campaigns already in place to address different aspects of the Gazan population’s needs. This made it difficult to pin individuals down for regular donations.
“I have however raised about $200 so far towards the laptop, but we’ve got a long way to go,” he said.
Funds for the campaign will go towards providing students with electronic facilities, a stable internet connection which will allow for lectures from foreign teachers to be streamed to students, a library for literary resources, and a website to share the student’s progress and achievements.
To provide assistance, you can interact with Ackerman via the Twitter handle @Bazzzonks. Alternatively you may call 0044 208 804 6945. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)