About 80 Bedouin children from the villages of Ka’abiye and Bir el-Maksur in the north of Israel joined a group of soldier-teachers in a clean-up operation in the Hanaton forest.

August 16, 2010 10:32
4 minute read.

KKL-JNF. (photo credit: KKL-JNF)

Bedouin children clean up a forest together with the army and KKL-JNF

“The forest was very dirty, and now it’s clean.  It makes me really happy that thanks to us our country is prettier,” says Reem Hajerat, age 8, from the Bedouin village of Bir el-Maksur.

About 80 Bedouin children from the villages of Ka’abiye and Bir el-Maksur in the north of Israel joined a group of soldier-teachers in a clean-up operation in the Hanaton forest.  The children are at present taking part in a summer camp for families of security forces personnel, and one day in the program was given to improving the environment with KKL-JNF.The kids managed to reach every corner of the forest, picking up plastic bags, bottles and garbage left behind by picnickers.  All the rubbish was collected in dozens of large, environmentally-friendly garbage bags, and after several hours of intensive work the forest was litter-free.

This was a joint activity of KKL-JNF, the Israel Defense Forces and the Ministry of Defense.  It was the brainchild of Major Guy Gadir, commander of the northern Bedouin district, who said, “The Bedouin, KKL-JNF and the IDF all have a connection to nature.  However there is not enough awareness of ecology and the environment.  In the same way as we in the IDF both serve the country and volunteer on behalf of the community, we also seek to pass on the value of protecting the environment to the younger generation.  After all, this world is shared by all of us, and we have to look after it together.”

Etti Azoulai, a KKL-JNF worker in the Galilee, noted that this cooperation with the Bedouin community in the north constitutes a significant addition to KKL-JNF’s efforts to strengthen the human relationship to nature. “What we have created here is a wonderful combination of a clean-up campaign and a values-based activity in ecology.  At the start of the day some of the kids said, ‘Why should we have to clean it? We weren’t the ones who made it dirty.’ But now they understand that it behooves each and every one of them to care for and preserve our world, for our own sakes as well as for those in the next generations.”

Pini Ganon, coordinator for Bedouin activities in the Ministry of Defense, explained that the aim is to strengthen the links with the Bedouin community by educating toward love of the country.  “KKL-JNF is our natural partner in everything relating to nature and the environment,” he said.

So, it transpires that a children’s summer camp can include much more than the usual sea, swimming pool and games.  And don’t be deluded for a minute that such pleasurable activities were not also part of the Bedouin children’s summer camp this year.  They had them, and in abundance, but together with all the fun, there was also an emphasis on education to values.  

Ayat Amir, age 11 from Ka’abiye, testifies that the combination of learning and enjoyment was a definite success.  “It was fun in the forest, and we also learned that it’s important to look after our land and keep it clean,” he said.

After their clean-up work finished, the children enjoyed games, quizzes and activities relating to nature, led by the camp counselors.

Mohammed Gadir, age 9 from Bir el-Maksur said, “The games we played taught us about nature and made us realize that it’s important to protect the environment.  They teach us the same stuff at school, but it’s much better to go outdoors and do it with your own hands.”

Razi Harib, age 11 from Bir el-Maksur, heard about KKL-JNF even before he took part in the forest clean-up.  “My father told me that KKL-JNF takes care of forests, and it was really great having the chance to work with KKL-JNF, to help make the country beautiful and clean.”

Also participating in the clean-up campaign were soldier-teachers, some of whom are Bedouin and Arabs from the north, as well as Jews.  These young soldiers, who have chosen to devote their regular military service to boosting the education of the younger generation, attach great importance to this activity with the children.

One of these is Abed al-Hakim, a teacher-soldier from Ka’abiye, who said that the aim of the activity was to forge links between the children and the state, so that they would learn to love it and wish to look after it.  “We engage in a lot of activities with youngsters, and quite often we work in cooperation with KKL-JNF.  It’s a real thrill when I see a kid who’s out with his family on a trip on Saturday instructing his parents about the importance of keeping the site clean. For me, that’s the ultimate proof that our work is actually bringing about change.”

For Articles, comments or use please contact
 Ahuva Bar-Lev
KKL-JNF – Information and Publications
 Phone: 972-2-6583354 Fax:972-2-6583493

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