A bridge to the future for Bethlehem’s children in difficulty

Giacomo Pizzi5 October 2012

Thanks to our collaboration with the Fondazione Onlus San Zeno in Verona, ATS Pro Terra Sancta can promote and take part in educational activities at the Terra Santa College, a Franciscan school in Bethlehem.

ATS pro Terra Sancta is in fact supporting 50 of the school’s students, between the ages of 10 and 17, who live in situations of social unrest or have academic difficulties. Our aim is to help them build “a bridge to the future”: to bring out and strengthen their independence, academic abilities and social skills, while developing their individual capabilities according to their difficulties and personal needs.

As a result of coordination between social workers and caretakers at the Terra Santa College, a number of extracurricular activities have been organised and are now in progress. The activities are held four times a week, in the afternoon time slot, for about four hours a day. The children’s participation has been constant from the start.

In between activities the children also benefit from a canteen, which is an important meeting place for their peers, teachers and social workers. And the very same children get to choose what’s on the menu under the supervision of the coordinators. The meal service is also of great educational value, as it provides an opportunity to foster healthy eating habits. The basic aim of school meals is therefore twofold: nutritional and educational.

The children involved in the project actively participate in all the remedial activities offered by afterschool club. A good relationship between the pupils and their teachers is gradually being established. All the students demonstrate that they have integrated well within the group, interacting positively with each other and with their educators.

The assistance of all the teaching staff, who are always helpful and attentive to the needs of the children, has been invaluable. Father Marwan’s guiding role as the Head of the School has also been indispensable and he has been directly involved in coordinating the daily activities. Social workers, together with Franciscan friars, have asked for the opinions of the families concerned. Parents have said that they are in fact very satisfied with the progress of their children’s academic performance and hope that this project can continue in the future.