We are grateful to be in the presence of so many talented, vivacious, intelligent children. Wi’am provides a safe environment for their own growth, as well as to express and channel feelings and frustrations into educational and creative endeavors. In the children’s program, children find their voice, engage in critical thinking, and use their stories to enact social change.
Creative Arts and Education:
For children, art and educational pursuits are the best avenues for expressing one’s struggles, joys, thoughts, and emotions. We create safe space for children to express themselves through visual arts and craft projects involving drawing, painting, clay-shaping, and mosaics. Children also participate in Dabkeh (traditional Palestinian folk dancing) and other dances. We guide children in the performing arts of instrumental and vocal music, and acting. Wi’am offers courses in multiple languages, exposing children to new and exciting cultures. Children explore their specific interests by attending and participating in workshops on the topics of democracy, national independence, responsibility, and communication.
Our children not only inherit stress due to the political situation, but they also experience worry and anxiety from strenuous academic requirements and family responsibilities. At Wi’am, children can be children: their time here is an opportunity for release from the many ways in which they are forced to grow up prematurely. We engage them in games and physical activities that encourage teamwork, sharing, and community.
Environmental and Health Awareness
At Wi’am, we believe people are responsible for preserving the health of the land and the health of their bodies. Through workshops and discussion groups on environmental health, physical activity, and nutrition, they learn about the many needs of the land and the human body. Through volunteer activities such as cleaning and planting trees, the children restore health to the land and to their own bodies through physical activity.
Each summer, our children gather for three months, five days per week, to celebrate summertime. This is a time for Wi’am to offer games and creative educational activities, and travel to surrounding cities for educational and recreational excursions. The summer camp culminates each year with an End of Camp Celebration, during which the children display their artwork and perform dramas, Dabkeh, and musical pieces for family and friends. The Summer Camp is a special time of year that brings a great deal of joy to the children, Wi’am staff and volunteers.
Excursions and Field Trips
It can be quite a challenge to learn about your own country if you have no access to it. Thus, Wi’am takes every opportunity to expose young people to life outside of Bethlehem. With trips to Ramallah and Jericho, children can experience the culture of larger cities in Palestine. By visiting the nearby villages of Beit Sahour and Artas, the children can also experience the diversity of lifestyles in the land. Though the route is often long and arduous because of checkpoints and terminals, it is always an exciting experience for the kids to travel outside the walls of little Bethlehem.
Christmas Smiles Program
Christmastime in the Wi’am office brings with it not only hope, joy, and peace, but also a recognition of the great stresses of life in Palestine. Parents and children are often in a difficult position financially, spiritually, and emotionally, and the stresses can feel even more burdensome at this time of year. Through our annual Christmas Smile Program, Wi’am offers various opportunities to bring smiles to the children and community members in Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jerusalem by reminding them of the good things in life: love, family, and friends. With clown shows, music, arts, crafts and food, children can participate in exciting activities and Christmas joy.