Jericho Diary: Building up a new ‘Terra Santa’

Giacomo Pizzi6 February 2012

Some time ago ATS pro Terra Sancta launched a new project to support the small Christian community in Jericho, which is centered around the Good Shepherd Parish. For three months, Rosalie – a volunteer working with ATS pro Terra Sancta – has been in Jericho helping out with the needs of the community through the project “Jericho, aid to Christians in need“.

Here is what she writes:

“Within the safety of the cream coloured gates lies the humble- slightly run down existence of the Jericho School, Terra Santa. From the outside, it appears as most schools appear, with the bell sharply ringing at 7:45, the children orderly unite-with all school students within Palestine, hand on heart, to sing the Palestinian national anthem, and all proceed to enter into the 2 storied building to begin classes. Seemingly normal; what differentiates this school from others is not it’s appearance-but the beating heart of unity that lies within it.

Terra Santa school was founded in 1950 by the Franciscans, Custodians of the Holy Land, and promotes the values of religious equality. Since 1925 the Brothers have been constantly present in Jericho to serve the society- and to take care not only of the Christian community but all within the confines of Palestine. With the strong desire to be the ‘salt of the earth and light of the world,’ they perceived the essential need to create a center that would be the heart of where academia and morals joined hands and were delivered to the future children living within Jericho.

With 100 students in a rented building, the first school of Terra Santa (Holy land) was born. From that moment, the School has offered the highest level of spiritual, human and academic education, helping to form the forward thinking leaders of the future who will help to serve both their society and country.

Living out it’s mission for 60 years, the school helps to encourage and educate the students in the ability to live in harmony and peace; challenging them to enhance their respect of diversity. ‘With Christians only making a small 6.2 percent of the student body, it is important to remember that the mission of the school is to help all our children to grow together, offering them the highest level of academic education in union with the human and spiritual formation,’ said Fr. Ibrahim ofm, the director of Terra Santa in Jericho.

Catering to over 460 students, the current school looks to begin a brighter future-with the creation of new Terra Santa School. It will minister not only to these current students but will also open the door in forming double the amount of young minds within Jericho. ‘Building a new school in Jericho would cover all the current educational criteria,’ states Fr. Ibrahim. ‘An old dream was an old dream, but we must begin to look to changing the future’.

Regardless of the school being run on an already low budget, it continues to reflect the spirit of free charity-with low school fees, with a special care of the children living in greatest poverty..

The structure of the new school is near completion and it is expected to be finished in April of 2012, in the hope that by this September it could welcome between 850 and 900 students from kindergarten to the final 12th grade. Now the Franciscans are left with the pressure of completely furnishing the schools numerous and modern facilities that it needs to acquire to provide the students with the best possible teaching environment- with the hope of science, chemistry, art and computer labs to accommodate for the highest level of their education, helping to provide a brighter future within the Palestinian society.