The Child Centre - Gaza (CCG) of the A. M. Qattan Foundation (AMQF) concluded Summer 2017 events. Titled Beit Byout (playing house), Summer 2017 activities were designed to create an enabling and supportive environment for children and contribute to providing spaces for innovation and creation during the summer break.
Organised between 27 May and 25 August 2017, Summer 2017 events included a variety of art and culture activities and courses, targeting parents, children under six years of age, and lion cubs and young adults up to the age of 15 years. The CCG implemented a series of programmes and courses, which stimulated creation and instilled in children the appreciation of culture and arts.
A large number of children and parents visited the CCG Library and participated in Summer 2017 activities. Between May and August 2017, a total of 44,833 participants visited the CCG. More than 42,131 books were lent by the CCG Library. New subscribers totalled 3,198 boys and girls.
On her experience in the summer break, Sabah Alwan, a 13-year-old girl, said: “I have benefited a lot during the summer break at the CCG. I found all that I needed - culture, arts, technology, entertainment, everything… When I am old, I wish I can create a place like the CCG, which is fit for children”.
Children Observe a Remarkable Ceremony
Celebrating the end of the summer break and culminating the Beit Byout activities, the CCG organised a closing ceremony of Summer 2017 events at the Rashad Shawwa Cultural Centre on 16 August 2017. Dozens of children participated in the ceremony, which involved a large number of parents. The ceremony also brought together a number of local organisations with an interest in childhood and culture in Gaza.
Crowning children’s achievements during the summer break, the CCG curated an exhibition of the products, which children contributed to making and producing in science, art and technology courses. The exhibition featured the outputs of several courses, including Design Your Scientific Project, Doll Making, Graphics. It also includes products made by children of the CCG Little Painters’ Club and Robot Engineers Programme. The Animation course was concluded by screening films, which children contributed to making. Art products of children of Child Friendly Spaces were also presented.
The ceremony was initiated with songs performed by children of the Qattan Choir, including O, you sweet. Roses are beautiful. How sweet the world is. Greetings to Gaza. These were followed by a performance by the Keffiyeh Group of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music. Children who participated in the Ballet and Aerobics courses made remarkable performances that thrilled the audience. Children of the Theatre course presented The Little Lamp, a theatrical performance that proved their distinction. The closing ceremony was concluded with a popular Dabke performance by children of the Qattan Performing Arts Club. The ceremony also featured literary contributions and reading poems of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.
Describing her impression about the ceremony, Arij Hirzallah said: “It was a distinctive ceremony. We thank the CCG for its efforts and care for our children. I was so happy when I saw my children participating in performances in most activities”.
The CCG celebrated the conclusion of the Kung Fu for Boys and Girls, A Circus Tent, Aerobics, Ballet, and Tharif al-Toul - Popular Dabke courses. With the encouraging presence of their parents, children presented exquisite performances on the CCG stage. Performances earned the admiration of the audience.
Two Literary Evenings
Proceeding from the CCG effort to encourage children to read, write and create, children of the Literature Club participated in a literary evening organised by the CCG in conclusion of the Summer 2017 activities. Children read literary texts and poems in the presence of their parents. While some read their own writings, other children recited poems by Tamim al-Barghouthi, Amal Dunqul and Omar Khalil Omar.
The literary evening also featured a song performed by the Qattan Choir. Titled Our Dreams are a Story, the song was composed by the choir members. In the evening, Ruwa’ Abdul Hadi also sang some songs and played the oud.
English language also received its fair share of attention in Summer 2017 activities. The CCG organised Rise Up, a literary evening presented by children of the English Language Club. Children read their works as well as critical reviews of books and stories, which they had already presented in the club encounters during the summer break. Children also curated an interactive Talk Show with the audience, talking about their life experiences and interests. The literary evening also featured English songs performed by children. The audience, including parents and interested organisations, actively interacted with these performance.
Reflecting on her participation in the Rise Up literary evening, Raghad Hussein, a 14-year-old girl and a member of the CCG English Language Club, said: “This was the first time I stand on the stage and participate in an event in English. I loved to stand on the stage. The audience interacted with the topic I raised. It was about positive energy. I was happy to have this experience, which was my first. I dream to be a translator in the future.”
Summer 2017 activities were not limited to the CCG premises only. Through the Child Friendly Spaces, the CCG Outreach Unit organised several activities and events which targeting children throughout Gaza governorates. These were implemented in six Child Friendly Spaces: Beit Lahiya; Al-Sammouni, Al-Zaytoun; Al-Mughraqa; Al-Maghazi; Ma’an, Khan Yunis; and Al-Karama, Rafah. In addition, the CCG sponsored a Doll Making course for children, using raw materials from the local environment.
Co-funded by the Bank of Palestine, the Mobile Library Bus project also implemented a variety of activities. These included free reading, reading stories aloud, shadow theatre, popular games, cultural competitions, film screenings, open microphone, reading activities, painting and colouring, storytelling in drama, thinking games, and chess.
Additionally, the CCG implemented project activities of the Mobile Library Bus - Goethe Institut during the period 1-22 August 2017.
For the second year, the CCG has launched the Sports Week for Boys. Organised over five days from 16 to 20 July 2017, this year’s sports week - A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body - was held at the Dolphin Resort, Sheikh Ijlin, Gaza. Children participated in a number of activities, mainly swimming, free reading, storytelling, popular games, and chess.
The First Chess Tournament
In the context of Summer 2017 activities, the CCG organised the first chess tournament in cooperation with the Palestine Chess Federation and Christian Youth Association. The tournament brought together 62 male and female children, aged 9 to 15 years. At the end of the chess tournament, results were announced in the presence of the participating children and their parents. Certificates were distributed to all participants. Cups, medals and chessboards were awarded to the five winners.
In late September 2017, the CCG will launch a set of new cultural and artistic activities and courses for the autumn season.