Key Points about Hope Flowers - Hope Flowers School

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Key Points about Hope Flowers

Key Points about Hope Flowers
and how our educational methods developed

If you need to find out in one page what's special about our work, this is it.

Hope Flowers Foundation has three main activities, based in in Bethlehem: 
  • it provides a school for young people aged 4-14,
  • an adult education center for education and community development,
  • and Radio Zohoor al Amal, broadcasting balanced information, encouraging tolerance and understanding around Palestine.
War Trauma. The unique methods developed by Hope Flowers have evolved over 30 years, pushed by the pressure of need in a war-traumatised, occupied country. It is fuelled by the dedication of its staff and the imagination and brilliance of its founder and those who carry on his work.

How it started. The school started out as a kindergarten in the 1980s providing enlightened education to disadvantaged children.

It was soon discovered that not only the children but also the teachers were psychologically affected by conflict. The founder, Hussein Issa, himself a refugee, realised he needed to develop special techniques for transforming harm to advantage.

Counselling and special modalities were introduced to help children share their experiences and understand them. This was introduced into all parts of the curriculum, whether art and drama or gardening, science and languages.

Teachers were also given special care, to help them overcome burn-out and personal frustrations arising from the stress of living in a conflict, so that they could better avoid passing on tensions and problems to the children. No matter how well motivated, teachers were still under strain.

Parents. Then it was realised that it was no good helping kids if their trauma-based patterns were reinforced back at home. So parents were given counselling, discussion groups, parenting and community-building classes. Women were seen as a key area for attention.

Community. Then it became clear that the wider community plays an influence, so community-development groups were started where people could learn how to deal with social stress and complex issues and change their lives.

Key questions here were the development of independent thinking, compassionate listening, how to express one's feelings without causing damage, articulating oneself at meetings, learning how to handle difficult situations and manage conflict situations.

Peace education. This is peace-building and democracy in action - teaching for real-life survival and developing social skills. This is built into the curriculum and the daily operation of the school, without separate peace lessons. It concerns building up how children and families believe in themselves and learn relevant knowledge for the real-life situation they live in.
Adult Education & Community Development. Work with adults became really important. So the Hope Flowers Centre was started in 2004, following the second intifada with its curfews, shortages, impositions and violations.

Teacher Training - and not just for Hope Flowers' teachers. Teachers and counsellors in schools around Palestine are being trained in dealing with trauma-recovery and learning difficulties. UNRWA and the Palestine Authority have asked Hope Flowers to train their teachers, and this work is ongoing.

Women's empowerment. Women from deprived backgrounds are taught how to work in cooperatives to produce marketable crafts and foodstuffs or how to start businesses. They are taught computer use, given counselling, training in running a business, how to manage their families in this context, and given an all-round group-support framework. We also work with teenagers, problem families and the disadvantaged in similar ways.

Professionals such as teachers, police, social workers and nurses are trained in dealing with difficult social circumstances resulting from violence and hardship, and also in handling threatening situations. Such professionals stand at the frontline in peace-building.

This is what we mean by peace and democracy education. It applies to children and adults alike, and its effects spread beyond those who attend classes at Hope Flowers. Often graduates become community leaders or catalysts of change in their own right, helping others.

Hope Flowers has been an incubator of ideas and techniques which will spread around the Middle East and to other conflict zones worldwide.

We have experience in survival and in making the best out of a bad situation. We've grown and developed through challenging circumstances on a low budget, through trial and error, propelled by the pressure of real need.

We thank all of you who have supported Hope Flowers over the last 30 years. Please follow our progress and tell your friends and contacts about us, helping us to bring hope to the wider world.
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