Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Thursday, 27 June 2024

Fr. Ibrahim Faltas reflects on Gaza schoolchildren’s future

Fr. Ibrahim Faltas ofm/ Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land/ :

These days, around 39,000 pupils in Gaza would have had to take their school-leaving exams. Like many other Palestinian students, like many other Israeli students, like many other students around the world. The graduation exam is important, it marks a stage in life, it is the transition to adulthood.

There would have been 39,000 students, but nobody can know who didn't show up for the exam because they are no longer there or because their body is still under the rubble.

How many of them have suffered injuries and trauma? How many have lost their parents and are suddenly responsible for the family that previously supported and protected them? How many have lost friends and schoolmates with whom they shared the good years of their youth?

Through my experience as director of the schools of the Custody of the Holy Land, I have come to know the children and young people of this country well. I see them enter the kindergarten rooms anxiously, first clinging to their mothers and then smiling and running joyfully into the arms of the teachers. I see them grow and hear how they overcome insecurities and difficulties with commitment and determination. I accompany them in their fears and worries, which, together with the teachers and parents, I try to transform into an awareness of their abilities and into confidence and hope for the future, the future that begins with the Abitur exam and the first decisions in life. These are the days when students complete fifteen years of education, often in the same school and with the same friends, and these are the days when the closeness of a look, a smile and encouragement is needed.

There will be no high school exams in Gaza this year: They have already been canceled with the destruction of so many schools, and there will be none next year either, interrupting the growth and development of these generations.

Schools, like hospitals and places of worship, are sacred places, places that have fundamental functions for the healing of body, mind and soul. Respect for these places means respect for the lives they protect.

After 260 days, violence and hatred are still the main actors in the Holy Land, and as always, they are the cause of all wars. Even in the West Bank, the clashes do not stop, causing deaths, injuries, destruction and arrests.

The past is withheld from the children and young people of this country, the present is obstructed, the future is obscured.

The children of this land are denied the past, the present is hindered, the future is obscured.

Children need the strength of the trees planted by their ancestors on this earth, they need their firm roots and branches full of new leaves.

Roots do not only represent the past and the strength of the family bond, they are the history of every human being. The branches are a sign of rebirth and new life, a visible sign of spring that pushes the branches towards the sky and, for our children, they represent the hope of a better future.