Mural Painting at Amary Camp

The kids were fantastic: excited to transform sparse grey walls to a rainbow of images.
An elephant, sheep of varying sizes, giant birds and butterflies, flowers bursting with colour…These animals, stenciled by R, an international volunteer with artistic flair and little discretion for scale, gained bright fur and clothes by kids who handled their responsibility very well.

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The Amary refugee camp play centre hosts about 50 children aged 5 years every day from 7:30-12:00, working with them to teach them language skills and play games, but moreover to provide a place where in the unpredictability and difficulty of life under Occupation, they receive the patient attention vital to traumatized children.

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The effects of the stress of children’s lives was epitomized by one hyperactive little boy who ran about expressing himself noisily and none-too-gently with the other kids. He was a pipsqueak bully with a huge smile demanding attention. From the headmistress, he was treated fairly but without hostility, catering to his desire for attention but not further playing on his emotional traumas.

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Three teachers work daily at the play centre, one of whom has been there for 20 years. Funded by both the Friends schools and UN funding, this Amary Camp play centre began in 1975. The centre is modest but the attention great, making up for where finances fall short. Nonetheless, the teachers try to provide milk for the kids 2 or 3 times per week and, the morning we were there, laid out a snack of the makings of a falafel sandwich.

The Friends schools serve approximately 1,100 students, from elementary to high school age.

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