Hope Flowers School is for children, located in Al Khader on the western edge of Bethlehem.
Hope Flowers Centre is for adults, located in Deheisheh, closer in to Bethlehem - more about it below.
The Hope Flowers project was started by the late Hussein Issa in 1984 as a kindergarten in Beit Jala. This was extended into a school, which then moved to its current premises in the early 1990s during a time when peace was coming. It didn't.
The school was founded for the children of refugees and disadvantaged people in the area. It started as a peace school - the first of its kind in Palestine. As time went on it built up a body of knowledge and methods in treating war-related trauma in children, tried and tested by the rigours of conflict.
Every act of violence begins with an unhealed wound. If early-life psycho-emotional wounding is untreated, it later develops into a propensity for violence.
The school evolved ways of training teachers to deal with their own tensions. It started working with parents too so that the home environment didn't reintroduce patterns the school was trying to change in the children. Child and family counselling and a complete method of education for the whole being were developed over the years, often guided by necessity.
Nowadays the school is a leader in special needs education and it trains teachers from other schools. It's a beacon school for conflict-damaged societies.
In the second intifada, starting in 2000, adult education in trauma recovery and community development emerged as a new focus. By 2004 the Hope Flowers Centre was started. It set out to train teachers and social workers in dealing with trauma-related situations and to help parents reconstruct their families' and communities' lives.
Over time it developed women's empowerment courses, also run in other places such as Yatta and Tuwani south of Hebron, helping them work with personal issues, giving them work training and the knowhow to start women's cooperatives, and helping them take greater control of their lives.
It has also developed micro-enterprise and language training as means by which parents, refugees, budding professionals and others may make a new start and contribute to the development of Palestine.
All this concerns post-conflict reconstruction and strengthening society, as a way of constructively dealing with the challenging circumstances of life in Palestine.
Educating future generations and working with current adult generations is Hope Flowers' mission. By dint of its methods and experience, Hope Flowers now engages in training professionals from around Palestine and the Middle East, sharing these techniques and the ethos of non-violence education.
I have been working with Hope Flowers since 2004, mainly on English-language outreach materials (website and printed) and on problem-solving and advising the management of the school.
© Text and pictures copyright Palden Jenkins 2011. This is online material supplementing the book Pictures of Palestine by Palden Jenkins. You may print it out in single copies for your own non-commercial use or forward it by e-mail as long as the piece is unaltered and properly attributed to the author. The book's website is at www.palden.co.uk/pop