My day began with a visit to a large preparatory school for boys run by the UNRWA inside the Jabalia Refugee Camp. The school has nearly 2000 students, split into two sessions throughout the day. Gaza is so overpopulated that its infrastructure can't accommodate the sheer volume of children living within its borders. With no resources to build more schools, the only alternative is to provide children essentially half of an education. Unless a child is fortunate enough to have parents able to afford one of the few private schools, he or she is only in classes for a few hours a day, either in the morning or afternoon. Around 11:30am there is a flood of uniformed children in the streets, some leaving for the day and others just arriving.
The school's staff graciously opened their doors and arranged for a group of over twenty boys to participate in an art-based interview for WAR-TOYS. The results were astonishing. Some boys focused on shared fears and sentiments that are prevalent throughout the territory.
While others chose to relay personal accounts.
The boy above is sharing a before and after view of his neighbor's home, hit in an airstrike. Two people who he witnessed die are shown in the foreground of his drawing.
The few hours that I spent at the school were educational, productive, and humbling. Bringing these accounts to life while respecting the children's memories will be a real challenge, but I'm honored to have so much material to draw upon. Thanks again to the UNRWA, Shareef Sarhan, the staff of Jabalia Boys' Preparatory School, and its students. Additional thanks goes my translator Mazen Naim.
Tomorrow the work continues with children at more schools throughout Gaza.