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This year the Palestinian Bedouin children of Jahalin have a new school building built of bamboo. The new ‘desert school’ of the Wadi Abu Hindi community is the latest project of the Italian NGO Vento Di Terra and the Arcò group of architects.
The community was displaced from the Negev in 1948 and re-established in the West Bank, the community falls into the ‘Zone C’ area of Israeli civilian and military control. In 1997 the community resolved to build a school, but Israel demolished both the school and the homes twice.
Finally an Israeli court ruled the demolitions illegal and granted a temporary reconstruction permit. Like most of the constructions in Bedouin villages in area C, the school was a sheet metal structure which becomes unbearably hot. Despite the harsh conditions the school served 120 children. Vento di Terra has now improved the conditions with the use of special materials.
The ‘Desert School’ project faced specific restrictions imposed by the Israeli military authorities. Vento di Terra was able to respond to all of the challenges with the use of bamboo, earth and straw. The project moved forward with the community playing an active role in its planning, organization and realization. Local labor was utilized in retrofitting the buildings with improved climatic and acoustic insulation.
Respecting the centuries old history that has seen the Bedouins crossing the deserts of the Middle East, which continues to this day, dozens of kids cross the mountains by foot or with their inseparable mule to go from home to school. As soon as the bell announces the end of the school, a long line of children and mules disappear into the Palestinian desert.