The Qalqilya administrative area, in which Seir sits, is surrounded by the Israeli West Bank barrier, with a narrow gap in the east controlled by the Israeli military and a tunnel to Hableh.
US President Donald Trump’s actions since taking office have included recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and slashing US financial support to Palestinian refugees. Released in January 2020, his peace plan for the region includes proposals to give Israel security control in much of the West Bank and an undivided capital in Jerusalem. The plan, which was developed without consulting the Palestinian National Authority, gives the Palestinians nothing.
The plan was emphatically rejected by Palestinian President Mahmoud, and tensions in the region are once again increasing. Many fear the outcome may be a third Intifada, or uprising.
Its school is central to the social health and well being of the small Palestine village of Seir, providing a hub for community events such as summer schools, Eid celebrations and sporting activities – indeed, the school playground is the only space in which villagers can play football and basketball.
Members of the Britain–Palestine Friendship and Twinning Network, Journeymen Theatre has developed a close relationship with the village school over a number of years, as well as with Leena Zaroor, Chair of the Seir Women’s Cooperative, who works closely with the school’s head teacher. Funding has enabled the school to reestablish the kindergarten and create an outdoor play area, and to provide a special needs facility, an English Language laboratory and, most recently, a functioning school library.
The school library project – supported by the British poet, writer and musician Benjamin Zephaniah – included refurbishing a large room with furniture and bookshelves. However, the book stock was patchy and, in particular, lacked up-to-date encyclopedias, Arabic–English dictionaries and other text books. With a grant from the Mandala Trust, these gaps on the shelves have now been filled.