7 March 2012
Jabalia, Gaza Strip
With no birth certificate, ten-year-old Nour Defallah used to be stuck. The youngest of seven children, her family was too poor to afford this most basic document. With no proof of birth, she couldn’t go to school with her friends.
“I felt so sad when I saw my cousins go to school,” said Nour. “I was at home doing nothing but playing in the street all the time.”
On an annual visit to Nour’s home in the Gaza Strip, a social worker from UNRWA’s relief and social services programme was surprised to see the young girl who wasn’t listed in any of her family’s official documents. Although she couldn’t read or write, Nour was curious to see what the social worker had been writing down.
A piece of paper that changed her future
Seeing her desire to learn more, the social worker helped raise a small amount of money with the community in Jabalia refugee camp. The funds allowed Nour’s father to purchase a birth certificate for his daughter.
Nour was thrilled to see her name on an official document. Knowing it could enrol her in school with her friends made her overjoyed.
As the main provider of primary education for Palestine refugee children, UNRWA created a space for Nour in one of its schools, with special education classes in Arabic and mathematics.
“She wants to learn everything”
“She was thirsty to learn,” said one of the teachers assigned to Nour. “She wants to learn everything, and to read everything. She will face no problem when mainstreamed in a regular class with other students.”
After completing her special education classes, Nour passed an evaluation test and will soon start attending regular classes in the second grade. Already, she is giving thought to her career after school.
“I want to be a doctor,” she said. And she already knows what it will take. “I will work hard, and I will study.”
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