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Source: USAID West Bank & Gaza
24 February 2005

OPT: USAID unveils girls' school in Artas and garden for senior citizens in Beit Jala, West Bank

ARTAS, West Bank – American aid officials unveiled Thursday a beautiful new primary school for girls and a recreational park for senior citizens in nearby Beit Jala.

Working through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID, the American people donated $286,000 for the construction of the Artas Elementary School for Girls. The community also contributed to the project, donating land worth $61,000. The construction generated 2,950 person days of employment over eight months.

The brand new, two-story, 750 square meter school, was built using local stone. It will serve 11 teachers and 226 students in grades 1-5 in eight classrooms.

The new school replaces a facility that had been located in the basement of the 140-year-old village mosque. The classrooms were overcrowded and inadequately ventilated and illuminated creating an unhealthy environment.

In Beit Jala, USAID constructed a 600 square meter flower garden and park to give the 1,000 elderly Palestinians who attend activities at the Senior Citizen Society a place to relax and visit with their friends and families.

The American people contributed $90,000 to the project and the local community donated another $6,000. Producing the park generated 1,069 person days of employment as workers constructed retaining walls, new sanitation units, a cafeteria, a stone stage, ramps and a wooden pergola.

The installation of a lighting system, tables and chairs and landscaping including flowers, trees and lawn completed the project.
The Beit Jala Senior Citizens Society was founded in 1984 to meet the health and social needs of elderly people in the community. The society provides a unique day care center and health service for older people in Bethlehem District. It operates a pastry bakery to help cover running expenses.

Both the Artas school project and the Beit Jala park construction were implemented for USAID by Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

USAID administers the U.S. foreign assistance program and provides economic and humanitarian aid in more than 80 countries worldwide.

Since 1993, Palestinians have received more than $1.5 billion in U.S. economic assistance via USAID projects – more than from any other donor country.

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