Good morning dear children, dear Mrs Huth, dear colleagues, dear friends,
Welcome to our kindergarten. As you can imagine, this moment is very exciting for all of us. Therefore I am very happy to see some familiar faces, but also some new faces that hopefully I`ll get to know better during our work here in Shatila. We are looking forward to meeting everyone of you. For us as a team it was the first time to build a project like this (so be indulgent with us if things are not all perfect from the beginning), the more lovely it is to see that what started as an idea has materialised now. As you could see when walking up the stairs, we have come quite a long way. One of our main concerns while building was to have everything made in the camp. So almost everything you see is made in Shatila, the doors, the furniture and so on. This gives me the opportunity to say a big thank you to our carpenter Nasser, who has been dedicating almost all year to work for us . Now the building is almost – ready and waiting to be filled with life and laughter on Monday.
Just shortly for those that are not yet familiar with us: We, this is: our educators Ms Samah Rmieh, Mrs. Nivine Saber, Ms. Layal Haj Ali, Mrs. Inas Alajouz, Mrs. Fadia Mohammed, our kindergarten coordinator Ms. Mariam Wali, and the General Manager Mr. Rabieh el Tayeh. And myself.
But the most important detail in this we is the children. We would like to especially welcome them and their parents who trust their children into our care. For the first year we will have three groups, consisting of 12 children each. One of the things I`d like to mention is that we will have age-mixed groups. That means our groups consist of children between 3 and 6 years old. In the first year however we receive three and four year olds and w`ll be filling up the exisiting groups next year and the years to follow with three year olds.
Like all kindergartens, our concern is the children and how they learn. We are following as much as possible the Waldorf school of education, which some of you might be familiar with. It is an educational concept that starts with Early Childhood Education and continues all over high school. For the kindergarten it means for example that play is not a luxury, but fundamental. At play, children learn the most important of life`s lessons, the ones that cannot be taught in school. Unscheduled playtime is one of the most valuable educational opportunities we give our children. It is fertile ground; the place where children strengthen social bonds, build emotional maturity, develop cognitive skills, and shore up their physical health. We want to give our children the opportunity to learn not only with their minds, but with their hands and their hearts.
Children are beautiful individuals who develop and, with their talents, inclinations, interests, and also children with disabilities, want to go their own ways. In Waldorf education we see the educators as role models who help in facilitating this process in the best possible way.
This, of course, does not mean that we do not have rules or a schedule! We have. And we have a structured daily curriculum. Still we will focus on play, movement, daily rhythms, music and art. And surely here the Palestinian identity and culture will be visible, touchable and hearable at all times in everything we do. The educators have been working for the past months on writing their own songs and rhymes as well as remembering traditional ones to be included in their daily work.
Now you might wonder how this curriculum I am talking about will look like? You can see parts of the things we do during our daily routine today as the educators have prepared some small things for you in the bigger classroom one floor down.
But before that this is the time to thank many many people and express our sincere gratitude. Building this kindergarten was on of the most beautiful experiences (most of the time). This kindergarten was built with a lot of help from different people who gave their hearts and hands to support us. Many of them are here today. I want to say a big thank you to the trainers who prepare and come in their free time and volunteer here with us in training our educators. I want to thank you for your support and motivation, especially Bernhard Merzenich who is just not getting tired at all. And also I would like to thank our wonderful team for all the love and surely sweat – they put into this.
Thank you Samir Farah for your patience and your help to find my way in Lebanon.
Thank you Post Pro for Media Production represented by Maher Shehahdeh for the communications work, Abdul Rahman Katanani for all the voluntary work you have done and the beautiful art work. Nazih Yacoub for answering about a million questions and always having some calming words. Thank you Saado Shishniyeh for renting out your building and giving us the opportunity to build our KG here. Thank you everyone, who has been working on the building.
And thank you Lina Khoury and the kahkaha project team who spent their weekends on building the playground on the roof. Thank you, German Embassy in Beirut, dear donors in Germany for your trust in supporting a new and very small project. Thank you dear parents for your wonderful children. We are so much looking forward to working with you all!
If you go down now one floor to the bigger room next to the kitchen you will see a short story telling by Inas and Layal, an example of simple handicraft by Nivine and some information about an activity called felting by Mariam.
After that we`d be happy to meet you up here again for some snacks and juice and talk if you like.