Ramallah is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank located 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Jerusalem, adjacent to al-Bireh. It currently serves as the administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority. With a population of nearly 25,500.
Ramallah was historically a Christian town, but today Muslims form the majority of the population.. Before 1967, it was called the Pearl of Palestine. The first residents of Ramallah came there about 400 years ago. Until 1948, the city was totally Christian. Muslims driven out of their homes along the coastal region fled to the mountains and have stayed on in the area.
Distinctive Social Cliaracteristics: Ramallah was founded by Christians. The schools located there are among the earliest providing education for the poor and for girls. High degree respect for education among the populace. People in the area have been heavily influenced by the West.
Distinctive Political Characteristics: Palestinian governing ministries are being established in Ramallah. Distinctive Characteristics of Al-Ahliyyah College: Founded in 1857. Grades: K-12 with 466 students. Half of the students are Muslim
The city still has a Christian ambiance with churches located here and there about the town. One can find Baptists, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Quakers, Catholics and Orthodox living congenially side by side with their Muslims neighbors in the city. Since 1948, there has been a mass migration of Christians of Ramallah to the West and particularly to the States. Those left behind are determined, despite their minority status, to maintain their faith and live in the land of their ancestors.
The Ramallah area is surrounded by hilly farmland whose small patches for farming can be quite productive in the rainy season. The town is destined to be the major location of government ministries. Many are hopeful that it will blossom even more into the permanent commercial center as well. There are a number of colleges and technical schools in the area. Many of them are for refugees only and are run by the United Nations. Higher education provides many jobs in the area. Despite high expectations, until a means for shipping goods out of the West Bank to other countries is worked out, the economy will not grow if there is limited access to markets, which is the current situation.
As in other areas of the West Bank unemployment is quite high. Currently, there is a building boom, which is providing jobs. When tills temporary phase passes the area will have to begin the task of job creation that is stable and at a level that prohibits poverty. There are a number of factories in the town’s industrial area and a large number of shops, banks and insurance offices. The area still is far from the point of being able to provide jobs for the town residents much less the surrounding villages.
Many of the people of Ramallah have dual passports and have traveled abroad. They have had considerable contact with Westerners because of the contribution of the West in establishing schools in the area beginning in the last century. Despite the affluence of some, the whole area does have considerable number of people below the poverty line. Ramallah suffered considerably during the Intifada. Strikes and curfews were abnormally high in the town. Businesses suffered and many closed their doors permanently. The violence during the past has had its effects on the social well being of the family.
Children and teenagers have known only a life described by psychologist as that resembling the experience of children in war zones. The schools have become the social institution for repairing the lives of the young. They are challenged in a way not know in the past when families were strongly close knit and protective of their children. This breakdown of the family, which has been experienced in the West, has resulted in schools having to shoulder the task of caring for children in a way that in the past was the duty of the family.
Al-Ahliyya College of Ramallah
The Latin Patriarchate school in Ramallah was begun in 1858 and is in the heart of the town. The Christian schools in this era were the first to become the educators of the poor and for girls. These schools were very important in that they included religious training an area which had been long neglected. The schools were a source of strengthening the faith from their beginning. These Latin schools were open to all Christians and from the early days of their founding there was present a mixture of Christians from different backgrounds. Today, half of the students in the school are Muslim.
Schools like Al-Ahliyya became part of the heart of life in the towns and cities where they were located. Even today, the schools and activities there and at the adjacent churches make up much of the social and cultural life of the people.
Private schools educate 18% of the students in the country. These schools receive many children from very poor families since their policy is to reach out to the needy and not just those who have funds. The schools receive so many underprivileged children that they must seek support from sources outside the country to carry on their work. The government has never supported private schools in the West Bank.
Holy Family Parish, Ramallah
Telephone: (02) 295 6026
Fax: (02) 295 7998
Mobile: 00972.54.970.64.97 / 00970.59.976.22.20