1. Geo-Historical Context:
- Zababdeh is a Palestinian village one and one-half hours north of Jerusalem in the West Bank North Region.
- The village is located in the poor, under-developed, often overlooked Northern Region of Occupied Palestine. The nothern region is considered one of the poorest sectors in the West Bank.
- It s population includes 2,500.
- Zababdeh is a “Christian” village; 75% of its resident population, or 1,875 people, are Christian. In the area and in the region.
- The people of Zababdeh are many times forced to leave home to pursue better life opportunities elsewhere (currently 2,000 former residents or “exiles” live outside of Palestine); Many long to return home
2. The Latin Patriarchate School
- Zababdeh Latin School built by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 1883.
- It was founded by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem on the precept of strengthening the community of Zababdeh Christians through education and upon principles of social-conscientiousness (community minded citizenship). Since then thousands of Christians and growing numbers of Muslim children have taken, and are continuing to take their Pre-School, kindergarten, Elementary and Primary (up to grade nine) instruction there.
- The School is the largest and direct employer resource for the townspeople, offering the highest standard of education in the region.
- The Latin School provides the strongest base for community/area relations.
- From weekly Boy and Girl Scout meetings, to civil discussions on the ad-hoc judiciary, to Parent-Teacher sessions, the very existence of these facilities continues to promote public access and interchange, and keeps alive many integral forms of community expression and development in Zababdeh.
- From Zababdeh Schools current school roster of 550 students, 300 are Christian and 250 are Muslim.
- From inception thousands of graduates have entered into the wider Palestinian society.
- Over the years Zababdeh School has been renovated and new construction added on to keep pace with growth and demands. This latest incarnation, specifically the free-standing complex adjacent to the church, was built in 1984 to receive an influx of more students than what available space could then handle, raising school enrollment capacity to a new total of 380 students.
3. Zababdeh Economy:
Zababdeh’s resource is rich fertile land, yet inaccessibility to enough water makes it virtually impossible to tap the potential of the area. Because of this, land has little bearing on Zababdeh’s economic and social struggle. Agricultural output is derived principally from olives through a local abundance of oliv6 trees, but these only bear fruit every two years. There is some local small industry9 such as farm produce for sale, and a sewing shop serving Israeli clientele. The most successful developed industry in Zababdeh is “advance standard” education, produced solely by Zababdeh Latin School. 4. Employment:
The majority of Zababdeh citizens are unskilled. Unskilled employment opportunities come mainly in the agricultural sector, primarily at planting and harvest times. A small number of skilled men and women work in the nursing profession in the larger centers of Jinen, 15 km away, and Nablus, 45 km away. Trained elementary and primary school instructors are employed by Zababdeh Latin school, and in other area schools. Most Zababdeh-ians fortunate enough to be employed in the workplace work outside of Zababdeh, again, generally as unskilled and low wage laborers.
Zababdeh School is the single largest steady employer in Zababdeh, currently with a total of thirty teachers and workers on staff. Zababdeh School is most arguably the largest indirect employer in town: for instance, the Zababdeh Bus Company1 with eight full-time drivers during the school year1 ferries 275 students daily in and out of Zababdeh from the surrounding and outlying areas; while a number of local village shops and trades owe their existence and prosperity to the residual benefits Zababdeh Latin School provides.
5. Social Life:
The average Zababdeh family has eight members. Average family income is less than 400 NIS per month ($130 U.S.) Zababdeh is easily classified as a poor village. Surprisingly, perhaps, most residents are educated and literate, many having received their “Tauwjihi” high-school graduation certification. This is due to the fact that the Latin Patriarchate has in the past and today continues to wave tuition fees for Zababdeh’s poorest families.
6. The Exudus:
A tragic reality of the second half of this century is the uprooting and encouraged exodus due to imposed hardships, of many Palestinians off traditional lands. This is true of Zababdeh and its people. Sadly, many Zababdeh-ians leave home after finishing their schooling (in Zababdeh School) for better continuing education and life opportunities elsewhere, across Palestine and beyond. According to reports, many of the now estimated 2,000 exiles would like to return to the village, but shifting politics have yet to improve existing conditions to a point where former residents inside and outside of Palestine feel confident that they can come home again.
7. Hope for Peace
the hope for peace is already bearing fruitful promise in Zababdeh. More townspeople and others from the commuting vicinity are seeking to enroll their children in Zababdeh School that they might later profit from the advance-standard education and instruction it offers in a free (or at least more open) society. Satisfying rising enrollment pleas and other emerging needs in the north requires an expanded base, and construction of ‘the New Zababdeh School & Resource Center’ supplies the base needed to effectively marshal plans of response to all varied village-to-regional educational, social, and cultural needs currently not being met anywhere in the North Region on the scale now warranted.
Zababdeh is an ideal location in the North Region at this time for an education based, multi-use facility offering flexible capacity designed on foundational themes of social- renewal, social-integration, and social-progress. A new Combined School/Resource Center for Zababdeh is sure to have powerful, positive, and long lasting impact on the lives of thousands of North Region Palestinians who presently are at a loss and in need of hopeful opportunities Th these areas.
Parish priest: Fr. Ibrahim Nino
Telephone: 059 232 3797 – 054 970 6478