Boys from the neighborhood enjoy the new swing set!

In September, I had the pleasure of joining MECA partner Riwaq, the Beituniya Municipality, the Beituniya girls school, and the Indian Embassy to celebrate the opening of the Educational Garden in Beituniya! This garden will provide a playful and green space for the children to learn and enjoy their time under the sun  surrounded by different kinds of native plants. This garden came as the final touch for the project of rehabilitating Beituniya’s old city.

What’s unique about Beituniya’s old city that there isn’t an old city in itself centered in one location; you’ll be driving around in Beituniya witnessing modern cement houses and then scattered gorgeous old houses between every two or three blocks of modernity – connecting the old with the new. Riwaq worked for many years on renovating different buildings for families and community use.

Some of the native plants growing in the new garden

This new garden with funding from MECA is right next to the youth center that will open soon and the town’s girls school. Once the garden opened, the students swarmed in the place with excitement clearly visible on their faces. I heard one of them whisper to her friend, “I cannot believe this is the same garden we used to see a few weeks back. It’s perfect, so pretty!”

The girls weren’t the only ones who were excited. I saw the science, art, and PE teachers discussing the kinds of classes they’d like to conduct in the garden. The garden contains several sections with different kinds of plants: one is for aromatic plants, another is for evergreen ones, and a third for seasonal ones. All of the plants are native to Palestine giving the children the chance to play in the garden, enjoy the sun, and learn more about their homeland and how to take care of native plants and grow them while bringing life to what once were old abandoned spaces.

“This right here, the green space with children and even adults filling it, enjoying their time, and hopefully in the future use it for an educational experience is what we were hoping this place would represent,” Khuloud, supervisor from Riwaq, has stated. “It is not our aim to only renovate old buildings, but also to make them usable again and unabandoned, to re-populate them in a sense, and this garden comes as part of this aim that we’re extremely excited about.”