Amira Abu-Kaff has an MA in education from Bir Zeit University and a BA from Bethlehem. She comes from the nearby village of Beit Tzafafa, but came with her husband to live in his parents’ home in Tzur Baher. Not long ago, she and her husband separated. “Once, a woman like me would have gone back to her parents’ home, bruised and broken. I stayed here.”
Like many others who’ve started educational small business initiatives, she was motivated by the need to solve her own problem – what would she do with her three children? She turned her new status into a challenge.
“I am a single woman, divorced with children. I have a graduate degree, and so I developed a private business- a modern kindergarten. In my kindergarten, we offer are music lessons, science, nature and even Hebrew, beginning at age five. And I’m not satisfied with having only one kindergarten – I intend to establish a network of kindergartens, based on progressive educational pedagogy and independence.”
We went out to the small plot that Amira had planted next to the rented house where she established her first kindergarten. “I teach the children to love farming. I teach them to be tolerant of one another. To listen. I strive for excellence. I want to build up a special generation. I am happy to be part of this.”
The kindergarten opened in September 2012. “There are 40 children in the class. I have a municipal license, and the kindergarten meets all the necessary standards. I received 30,000 shekels from MATI. The Ministry of Education pays 700 shekel a month for each child, and the parents pay an additional 1500 shekels a year.”
Amira has opened a facebook page for the kindergarten, which is for both marketing purposes and to communicate with the mothers of the children. She knows her numbers well and understands that she has to treat the kindergarten like a business, if she wants to implement the educational theories that she has learned and if she wants to fulfill her dreams of building up a new society in Tzur Baher.
As we were saying goodbye, she added, “Dr. Fuad Abu Hamed was the guarantor for my first loan from MATI. You have to go see him. He’s an inspiration to us all.”