Rashidieh camp is located 5 km south of Tyre, on the coast. The older part of the camp was built by the French government in 1936 to accommodate Armenian refugees who fled to Lebanon. The new part was established by UNRWA in 1963 to accommodate Palestine refugees evacuated from Gouraud camp in the Baalbek area of Lebanon. Most of the inhabitants of Rashidieh camp originally come from Deir al-Qassi, Alma an-Naher and other villages in northern Palestine.
Rashidieh camp accommodates today more than 31,478 registered refugees
Mona Abdel Ghani is the current supervisor of GKCF Early Childhood Center in Rashidieh camp for Palestinian Refugees, Tyre. She was recruited in 1991. At that time – she remembers – the kindergarten building was under construction as the old one was destroyed during the Israeli invasion.
While waiting for the new construction to be ready, GKCF kept on building the team. Mona underwent an intensive 2 year training in Beirut. She was not easy to recruit as it took some time to convince her grandfather to let her outside the camp!
The camp is approximately 267,000 meter square – says Mona – and in 1978 GKCF kindergarten was the first and only one to receive children for preschool education. The old building consisted of 2 small classrooms with low ceilings and outside bathroom and kitchen. It got totally reshaped after its destruction. Today, it is a welcoming kindergarten provided with 2 big classrooms which can accommodate 3 groups of children, a small library, a small playground, children-friendly toilets, an art room, a storage room, and beautiful corners for reading and storytelling.
The kindergarten can accommodate around 50 children, and it is known in the camp for its very active Youth Club, involved in summer activities, and in initiatives engaging both parents and children.
The kindergarten strongly support the integration of children with disabilities, mostly thanks to the commitment of its staff. Indeed, the kindergarten staff received many awards for the outstanding job they perform every day. The kindergarten used to accommodate 2-3 disabled children: today, it accommodates 5 children. The current team is composed of 1 supervisor, 3 teachers, 1 art teacher, 2 assistants and 1 caretaker.
When you are in Rashidieh camp, close your eyes, listen the joyful singing voices of children. When you feel a charming atmosphere surrounding you, open your eyes. You are where you want to be, inside GKCF kindergarten!” Mona Abdel Ghani, Supervisor
How we are supporting Rashidieh GKCF kindergarten:
We will build a third floor to accomodate a large library, and a terrace, as well as to convert a small room used as a library into a computer room. We will also realize rehabilitation works to make the environments healthy and functional. Finally, we will offer refresher and training courses for GKCF teachers, as well as art workshop and summer camps for children.