Gaza’s children parachute into record books for third year in a row
30 June 2011
30 June 2011
Keeping their feet firmly on the ground, Gaza’s children stormed into the Guinness Book of World Records for the third year straight today, as they broke the record for the world’s biggest parachute game.
Schoolchildren from across the Gaza Strip gathered at Khan Younis stadium late this afternoon for the first of four world records they will attempt to break in Gaza this summer.
The attempt, comprising 3,520 children playing with 176 parachutes, more than doubled the record set by pupils at Plymstock School in Plymouth, England on 4 April 2006, when 1,547 children played with 58 parachutes.
International witnesses were on hand to count, including two judges in charge of signing the official statement on behalf of Guinness.
Best in the world
Sebastien Trives, UNRWA’s deputy director of programmes in Gaza, said: “The children of Gaza have shown again that they can be the best in the world. These events raise the spirits and aspirations of the children and give them a real sense of accomplishment and hope. They can achieve special things when given the opportunity.”
Each multi-coloured parachute was carried by 20 children. To aid counting, the stadium was divided into five areas, with each area further split into squares – one for each parachute.
Record-breaker Haitham El Ghoul, 12, said: “We have been training every day for more than 10 days. I’m so happy with what we have achieved today. And I am most happy because the children of Palestine get another mention in the Guinness book of records.
“I was confident that we would succeed, and feel so proud of our achievement,” he said.
Determined to succeed
“When we were raising the parachute up it felt like we were raising the name of Gaza and Palestine up to the sky,” Yumna Jarbou, 14, said.
“This is the first time I ever took part in breaking a world record – and it felt so good.”
Yumna’s team-mate Shayma Sihweel was equally excited: “I was trying to make the parachute go higher, but at the same time it was very crucial that we all do the exact movement at the exact time,” she said. “Our determination to succeed was behind our success today.”
In 2009, kids in Gaza broke the record of the most number of kites flown simultaneously, while last year they not only broke their own kites records, but set a new record for the number of basketballs bounced simultaneously.
World record glory
Their next tilt at world record glory will be on 14 July, when more than 2,000 children will set a brand-new record for the highest number of footballs dribbled simultaneously.
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UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions, and financial support has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees and deepening poverty. As a result, the UNRWA General Fund, which supports core essential services and most staffing costs, operates with a large deficit. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large deficits, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.