A Play About Shells for Gaza Children - NYTimes.com

A Play About Shells for Gaza Children - NYTimes.com

A Play About Shells for Gaza Children

Published: January 24, 2009

GAZA — The boys clapped and sang to pulsating music. They played games and shouted. It could have been a group activity at any school in any place, but this was the middle school in the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza, near where the United Nations says some 40 people were killed by Israeli mortar fire earlier this month.

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Tyler Hicks/The New York TimesRuins and Resumption Residents returned to their homes around Gaza City on Friday.
Tyler Hicks/The New York TimesOn Saturday, children were back in school in the Jabaliya camp.

Saturday was the first day of school since before the war, and 1,000 homeless people had been removed from the building so that classes could begin.

Even then, normal schoolwork had to wait. A team trained in trauma and group activities was running the assembly, and after the singing and clapping, there was a play devoted to how to handle dangerous materials, like shell parts, still in or near homes. Later, each pupil described what had happened to him and to his friends and family in Israel's 23-day war aimed at stopping Hamas's rockets.

"They are not ready to learn yet," said Asem Bajah, an English teacher, as he watched the singing. "And I am not ready to teach."

One week after the war with Israel and Hamas stopped — each side declaring a unilateral cease-fire — Gaza remains in a kind of stupor. There are numbers, of course, to describe its misery — 4,000 homes destroyed, 21,000 badly damaged, 100,000 people homeless, according to several aid agencies — but they do not tell the full story.

full article here: A Play About Shells for Gaza Children - NYTimes.com

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