Maria Fidelis Catholic School FCJ

Abu Dis

A visit to the Holy City      

During the Easter holidays, I had the privilege to be one of nine camden teachers to spend a week visiting schools in Abu Dis, a suburb of East Jerusalem in Palestine. The trip was organised by the British Council and the Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association (CADFA). The purpose of the visit was to strengthen liks already established by Camden schools and especially the link Maria Fidelis has with the UNWRA School, (United Nations Relief and Works Agency). A UN agency set up to work with Palestinain refugees. A lot of work has already been done by Ms Millar and Ms Boon in setting up this link and they both continue to do as much as possible. Ms Boon has just completed a three month placement, working in the UNWRA school and other schools in Abu Dis, helping to teach English.

Since 2003, Abu Dis has been cut off from Jerusalem by ahuge and ugly concrete security wall, put in place by the Israeli Government, who has illegally occupied Palestine since 1967. This wall dominates the lives of the people of Abu Dis. It has divided families and prevents the residents from accessing their lands, places of work and even their homes on the other side of the wall.

I spent the day with the teachers and students at the UNWRA School and brought them a beautiful book on St Pancras International Station, as apresent from Maria Fidelis. I also brought written and beautifully decorated greetings from both staff and my Year 7 and Year 13 groups. Whilst at the UNWRA School, I had the privilege ot help teach four different groups of students, all of whom produced beautifully decorated greetings to be given to Maria Fidelis students on my return to London.

It was Holy Week whilst I was in Palestine and although Abu Dis is cut off from Jerusalem and the people of the suburb are unable to visit the Holy Places, I was able to see this great city and its many Holy Places, so important to Jews, Christians and Muslims. On Good Friday, I joined many thousands of Christians, following the Stations of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem and finished my journey in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, with many other pilgrims, climbing the steep stairs to Calvary, where Jesus was crucified. As I stood in front of the Rock where Christ's wooden cross once stood, I thought of the Muslim and Christian students, unable to visit the El-Aqsa Mosque or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Since returning to London, a blog has been established between the UNWRA School, South Camden Community School and Maria Fidelis School. A number of Maria Fidelis teachers are now examining ways to use the blog to share all that is good between the three schools.

Mr Fletcher
Art Department - Maria Fidelis Convent School FCJ