Paul Calvert spoke with George Saadeh from the Shepherd's High School in Beit Sahour, about the challenges and trauma the children face and the importance of teaching them about peace.

George Saadeh
George Saadeh

Paul: When was the school started?

George: The school started in 1993.

Paul: What are the Shepherds' Fields famous for?

George: The Shepherds' Fields are in the city of Beit Sahour. It is when the angels came and acknowledged to the shepherds that there is a child born in Bethlehem and they stared singing and announcing the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ in Bethlehem.

Paul: So the school could be on the site where the angel Gabriel spoke about the birth of Jesus?

George: Yes that is right. It is built on the lands of the Shepherds' Fields, the Orthodox Shepherds' Fields, which belong to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Paul: How many students do you have at the school?

George: We have 600 students, boys and girls, Christians and Muslims. It is from kindergarten, three years old, up to high school 18 years old.

Paul: You say you are Muslim and Christian together. Is that a very good relationship that you have within the school?

George: That is right. We have a good relationship and the school is open for everybody. We have staff that consists of 54 teachers. Also we have Christian and Muslim and we are servicing in education and in raising our children the right way, in democracy, accepting others, living together and sharing life together and the most important thing is working for emphasising tolerance and our belief in God, no matter whether you are Christian or Muslim, or if you are a Christian from a different denomination. We are servicing all the people that we can service.

Paul: Do the children come from all kinds of different backgrounds?

George: They come from different backgrounds in the surrounding area. First of all we are servicing the area of Beit Sahour and then the area of the Governorate of Bethlehem.

Paul: What sort of needs do the children have?

George: There are many needs when you live under occupation. With many limitations there is a lot of need and there is much stress in our life. There is economical stress, and political stress, so you have to live a special life; you have to teach the special way. You have to deal with children that are limited with borders. They cannot go to the Mediterranean Sea unless we have permission. So we are trying to live in a not normal atmosphere like other countries. We are trying our best to deal with these issues as much as we can.