As the first families’ children began to grow they established their own pre-school. This naturally led, in turn, to the creation of the Primary School and the development of the concept for a unique, bilingual, bicultural curriculum, which has since been a model for other schools.
Father Bruno and other residents also quickly established the School for Peace, even before there was a building for it. The programmes still bring together Palestinian Arab and Jewish Israeli young people for joint activities to get to know one another, and through dialogue to explore issues that both groups experience as Israeli citizens.
Bruno wanted the community to have a place where people could explore their spirituality, but did not want there to be individual places of worship – Synagogue, Church or Mosque. Instead, the Doumia / Sakinah / House of Silence was created as a place for meditation, prayer and reflection. Since his death, the Pluralistic Spiritual Centre has been built in his memory. Its activities draw inspiration from the resources and spiritual traditions of the Middle East and the world at large. Today, under the leadership of Director Hezzi Schouster, it is one of the most important interfaith centres in Israel. Followers of faith come together to share religious teachings and commentaries, and to celebrate their festivals. It also does outreach work within Israel to create better understanding between communities.
Led by the outstanding Carmella Ferber (Principal) and Reem Nashef (Vice-Principal), The Primary School & pre-school have bilingual, bicultural education and therefore need a higher teacher/pupil ratio than in most other schools. We assist by contributing to teachers’ salaries, and have a particular interest in the role of the homeroom teacher who has an important pastoral role in the care of the children. Through a generous grant from a family trust Oasis of Peace UK was able to fund the building of a beautiful, state-of-the-art library.
Some other examples of how our donors have contributed to educational resources are: books for the library in English, Hebrew and Arabic; science and playground equipment; IT and computers; synthetic lawn and shade canopy for a large sport/recreation area; children’s summer camps; teachers’ language courses.
The outreach work of the School for Peace (SfP) is particularly relevant to young people who will be tomorrow’s leaders. The Youth Encounter Programme was the SfP’s first venture into the field of conflict transformation. It has been developed as a residential workshop at NSWaS for up to 60 high school students, 30 from a Jewish school and 30 from a Palestinian Arab school. A large number of schools from all over Israel take part in this programme, which has run successfully for over 30 years, and has become one of the major projects we support.
Social Science students at Tel Aviv, Haifa and Ben Gurion universities also benefit from the SfP's work, with academic courses designed specifically for this discipline. After graduation, many choose careers where they can put into practice the expertise and awareness they have gained through the SfP course.
In order to have a direct, long-term social and community impact, the SfP and its visionary Director, Dr Nava Sonnenschein, have developed change-agent courses for professional groups. These include human rights lawyers, up-and-coming politicians, mental health workers, environmentalists, urban planners and literature teachers, to name just a few. We fund some of these courses, together with USAID and the EU, through grants from UK Trusts.
Oasis of Peace UK supports many of these vital courses through building and maintaining relationships with individual donors and Trusts, and organising wide-ranging events.