Khaled Almaeena
Khaled Almaeena

Hanan Al-Hroub winner of the Global Teacher Prize award – an initiative of the Varkey Foundation –  said that she wants the children of Palestine to live in love and peace like the rest of the children of the world. Al-Hroub who teaches Arabic at Samiha Khalil High School in Al-Bireh, Palestine added that it is teachers who have the power to change not only the educational scene but also the world. New curricula and technology in education are all good but mean nothing if the teacher is not put first.

Al-Hroub pledged to use the one million dollar prize, the awarding of which was announced by Pope Francis, for the university tuition of students who wish to become educators.

Living in a harsh environment and occupied land where misery prevails and where neither schools, churches nor mosques are spared the almost daily attacks by vicious gangs of Israeli “settlers” aided by tear gas and live bullets fired by trigger-happy Israeli army soldiers, Hanan Al-Hroub is determined to survive. “I cannot control their environment or protect them outside school. So I try to at least provide them with a happy and safe environment inside.”

She sees the suffering of young children as they enter school many with swollen faces as they come in after being slapped by “settlers” or Israeli army soldiers who take sadistic delight in punching them.

She calms and teaches them offering love, care and empathy. She herself has been subjected to violence but that has not deterred her from her mission.

Her triumph in the face of repression and tyranny mirrors the Palestinian resolve to overcome a dark and tragic phase in Palestine’s history. Growing up in a Palestinian refugee camp and a victim herself, she did not wallow in self-pity but remained strong and determined to face the challenges.

Her main concern was the children who were traumatized by the constant murders of their colleagues on the way to school.  In the last three months, over 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and occupiers.

This has caused pain and anguish for many children as they witness these daily occurrences. Under Israel’s draconian occupation laws, children as young as eight are now in jail.

Yet hope lives and Hanan Al-Hroub continues to “set out on a journey to help children who have grown up in the face of violence.”

The Palestinian people are suffering because of a weak and helpless Arab world, the rabid Zionist control of US Congress, the hypocrisy of  Europeans and the absence of morality at the United Nations whose secretary general has made only lukewarm statements about the challenges that Palestinians face.

Palestinians have now mastered the art of improvisation in the face of Israel’s inhumane and repressive policies that are systematically dismantling Palestinian institutions.

Hanan Al-Hroub is one of them. She will continue to teach and inspire to raise the level of education and be a role model for teachers, not only in Palestine but the world over.

— Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena