Summer Fun Weeks: Children develop their creativity using materials from their environment

02 August 2016
Israa Al Halabi and her twin sister Nadeen participate in a recycling workshop with visiting artist Michèle Vanvlasselaer at Asmaa Preparatory Girls School (A) in Gaza. © 2016 UNRWA Photo by Hiba Kreizim

On 23 July 2016, UNRWA launched its Summer Fun Weeks (SFWs) Programme. For three weeks, almost 165,000 registered Palestine refugee children are being given the chance to participate in different activities such as football, drawing, playing games and handicraft workshops including recycling.

Summer Fun Weeks provide temporary job opportunities to 2,300 people at a time when 60 per cent of the youth in Gaza are unemployed. It’s also a chance to boost local markets; through purchasing large quantities of food and drink from Gaza suppliers for the students participating in the Summer Fun Weeks.

The initiative is also conscious of environmental issues. Waste materials such as plastic bottles, tires, ropes and sponges available at Karni warehouse are used for recycling workshops at different locations across Gaza.

Ms. Michèle Vanvlasselaer is a visiting Belgian artist who is experienced in working with glass and light. Through the theme of recycling, she volunteered her time to share her experience in this field with the children participating in the SFWs. She helped them to produce beautiful pieces of art out of the interplay between transparent plastic materials and light. Each piece of art will represent a small scene.

“I want to stimulate the imagination of young people by letting them play with light and their creativity by using unusual materials, that we would normally throw away,” Michèle said.

The students in the SFWs will participate in recycling workshops with the artist to play and share fun as well as helping to keep the environment clean.

Israa Al Halabi, a student in seventh grade participating in SFWs, said: “I participated in different activities, but I found the recycling workshop very interesting. I never imagined I could make beautiful handicrafts from things that I thought are rubbish”.

The best works created during the Summer Fun Weeks will be selected to travel to Belgium. In autumn, young people in Brussels will participate in the same type of art workshop as in Gaza. Following this, a joint exhibition including both the artworks of children and youth in Gaza and Belgium will connect the smaller scenes to each other in order to create one large story.

Background Information: 

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, 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 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

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