In June of 2010, managed by our local community partners the Canaan Institute of Pedagogy, we built a play garden in Beit Lahiya, Northern Gaza. It serves an area where about 80% of the population is living below the poverty line.

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Beit Lahiya is in the North of Gaza, and suffers disproportionately from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (and that’s in comparison to Gaza, which is itself already racked by the violence of this conflict). In this area, parents have observed increasingly violent and delinquent behaviour in their children, primarly due to the harshness of their environment. Workshops between parents and local school staff identified the need for leisure facilities for the children in the area as a priority, as there were no safe play areas there.

On the back of this requirement, Hope and Play fundraising assisted local organisation, the Canaan Institute of Pedagogy, to work with a newly established “Heritage” association and site to build a play garden for children and parents. This heritage centre provides a handicraft centre, a childhood centre, and a children’s library (which will also be funded by Hope and Play).

We have been trying to get this built in Gaza for over a year. Complications with sourcing materials, as well as ensuring that the funding was effectively used made this no small task. In the end, a tremendously dedicated local organisation helped us to make it happen, and I take my hat off to their ability to remain enthused under fire. The total project took 4 months to complete.

Here’s to the children and families who will enjoy this new space…