The hands up project: connecting with the children of Gaza

The hands up project is a true example of how technology can actually be used to connect people from all over the world but at the same time enhances creativity

joanna British School Pisa Group

di Joanna Paolinelli

Many of us have heard about the Gaza strip and know that the people of Gaza are forced to live in situations with no freedom of movement and in isolation due to border restrictions surrounding it. The siege makes learning English very difficult, and the economic situation means children lack access to effective teaching materials. However, only this year, after watching an inspiring talk by Nick Bilbrough, did I discover an organisation that makes it possible for the children in Gaza to connect with the outside world. Nick is the founder of the Hands Up Project who started connecting online with a small group of children in Gaza for weekly storytelling sessions 3 years ago. Since then, the Hands Up Project now works with over thirty different groups in Gaza, in the Occupied West Bank, and in Zaatari refugee camp for Syrian children in Jordan. Now as many as 500 kids a week connect to volunteers around the world who work in collaboration with the local teacher to tell stories to each other, to play games and to do other activities to help them bring the English to life.

hands up project

The stories that these children create are so inspiring that when asked to be a judge in a play competition for the project with over 180 entries, I jumped at the chance. The plays that the children of Gaza created were very moving as many of them describe the realities of their situation. However, they end with strong positive messages that show us how important it is to fight for what we believe in life and no matter how difficult, never give up that hope or stop trying to follow your dreams. We all have a lot to learn from them and watching these plays has put many things in my life into perspective.

Just before Xmas, a group of 9-year-old students from the British School Pisa Mopi Campus did a short remote play live for different groups of children around Gaza who also did a remote play for them. It was an amazing experience, as despite all the difficulties these kids face, they were so happy and enthusiastic to watch and talk to our students and the whole experience was inspiring.

For more information on the project, please go to the project website.

Here is a video about the hands up project which shows just how inspiring it really is:

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Joanna Paolinelli

Responsabile didattica British School MOPI
"I’m from Scotland and love living in Italy and love what I do. I believe that if a child finds it hard to learn in class then it is up to us to facilitate learning by teaching in ways that can help them to learn. I love technology and using it as a learning and motivational tool. I totally believe that creating the right atmosphere is so important, not only in the classroom but also in the workplace. I also work as a singer-songwriter and I’m always singing, even when I teach!"

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