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Writing for Influence: Bethlehem students’ success in writing competition
Hala and Razan are two 14-year-old Palestine refugee students at the UNRWA Dheisheh Basic Girls’ School, in Bethlehem, West Bank. Both have a passion for writing and were encouraged to join the “I am the Narrator” Writing Competition, an UNRWA school initiative. The pairs original stories made it through nine rounds, eventually reaching the finals and ranking amongst the top twenty in the competition!
“Reaching the final stage of the competition shows that with hard work and determination, you can succeed. This achievement brought me a lot of happiness and I set a slogan for myself, ‘I can win!’” Hala exclaimed.
The “I am the Narrator” Competition saw over 2,000 students from across the West Bank write short stories about a range of different themes. Razan wrote about a group of friends sitting in a café recalling old memories. Hala chose to write a story about the words that changed her life. “I chose this theme because I believe that words have great influence on the emotions of others,” Hala said.
Continued support provided by the UNRWA Dheisheh Basic Girls’ School, through its wide range of extracurricular activities, encouraged both Hala and Razan to pursue story writing. “We have a readers’ club, a mathematics club, a chess club and a library,” Razan says, adding, “The school always pushes us to work hard. They encourage us to take part in many of these activities so that we gain more and more skills and reach our goals.”
Education empowers young refugee girls to become confident, innovative, inquisitive and open-minded individuals who uphold human rights and contribute positively to the development of society and the global community. It also makes a marked impact on the future of young Palestine refugee girls, equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to succeed. European Union support to the UNRWA education programme is providing children the capacity to play a role in social change and development.
Ms. Kifaya, an Arabic teacher at the UNRWA Dheisheh Girls’ school, is the founder of the readers’ club that Hala and Razan are part of. Ms. Kifaya believes that active learning approaches and extracurricular activities like the readers’ club are essential to enhance the girls’ creativity, knowledge and critical thinking. At the club, Miss Kifaya encourages her students to read books and work together through group discussions and story writing. It was Ms. Kifaya who encouraged Hala and Razan to take part in the “I am the Narrator” competition. “I always try emphasis the importance of taking part in and winning these competitions, so that girls can continue learning and enhancing their skills.”
For young Palestine refugee girls living in Dheisheh refugee camp, who are often at risk of violence, dropping out and unemployment - education is a lifeline. Quality and inclusive education provided by UNRWA Education Programme and supported by the European Union, can serve as a tool in bridging the gaps in gender equality, participation, and access to opportunities. As a result of their partnership, The EU and UNRWA are determined to jointly contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4, quality education (SDG4) which aims to ensure that by 2030 all girls and boys around the world receive inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities to help break the cycle of poverty. “Through this experience, I learned that to succeed, we must trust our abilities to overcome obstacles. If we believe in ourselves and our abilities and take advantage of the available opportunities, we can achieve our dreams,” Razan happily concluded.
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