This Valentine's Day, we asked the students of the ELCJHL, "Why do you love the environment?"
“I love the environment because of the community it creates with people, plants, and animals...I love all the vivid colors that are in the environment around me. Some of the best memories I have as a kid come from playing outside with my family and friends. The environment is beautiful, and we need to protect it, so other people can also experience amazing memories too.”
Sherin Shibli, 8th grader at Dar Al-Kalima Lutheran School
“I love the environment because it gives you a beautiful view of the world. If we keep it clean, we will all be happier.”
– Batool Al-Atrash, 8th-grader at the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour
The Environmental Education Center as a Program of the ELCJHL
As a program of the ELCJHL, the Environmental Education Center (EEC) works for reconciliation, justice, and wellbeing for all members of the community. Located at the Talitha Kumi campus in Beit Jala, the EEC has worked to raise environmental awareness and provide environmental education, societal capacity building, and resources to many different groups within Palestinian society for the past 34 years. To accomplish these goals, the EEC continues to educate students, college age youth, and women about topics including Palestinian identity, civic education, peace building and tolerance, environmental awareness, climate change mitigation, biodiversity promotion, waste management, water conservation, health, and organic foods. The EEC includes the botanical gardens featuring native plants from Biblical as well as modern times. The center’s campus has established walking trails for bird watching and to educate visitors on native species of flora and fauna. An outdoor classroom is used for teaching visiting groups and classes about the Palestinian environment.
The EEC receives visitors from local schools, community members, and international groups every year, who come to the center to learn about the environment in Palestine and issues regarding its protection. The center operates environmental clubs in schools throughout the West Bank in order to provide additional environmental education, foster creative thinking, inspire leadership skills, mitigate climate change, and create opportunities for outdoor recreation. Educators from the center visit classrooms to discuss waste management, water conservation, and biodiversity.
The EEC’s vision for a healthy environment and environmentally-conscious population has led to the expansion of programs to a wide range of people from various religious, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds. As a program for all people, the EEC seeks to:
Empower individuals and communities to take action for sustainable change.
Support the community (particularly students, teachers, women, and graduate students) in developing a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between humans and their environment.
Promote local and global awareness of the economic, scientific, and cultural value of specific natural resources, ecosystems, and habitats.
Provide a dynamic meeting place for students, teachers, and the public.
Care for creation and work to be the best environmental stewards we can be.
Did you know that the day after Valentine's Day, Feburary 15, marks the start of the bird migration?
The Talitha Kumi Bird Ringing and Monitoring Station at the EEC, the Arab world’s first ringing station, has been in operation since 2000, observing bird migration trends through Palestine. The station provides a vital research location, as well as an opportunity for visitors to the center to observe and learn about birds in Palestine up close.
“The environment gives me positive energy. When I’m in nature I feel comfortable and relieved.”
“I love the environment of Palestine because it has beautiful and colorful birds and it contains animals such as the Palestinian ghazal and eagles.”
—Rama Hadad, 7th-grader at Beit Jala Governmental School
Did you know that the EEC hosts groups from many different schools across Palestine, not just the Lutheran schools?
On January 12, the worshipers of Christ Lutheran Church in Ferndale, WA enjoyed beautiful Arabic Christian music sung by California Lutheran University student Tamar Haddad. At adult education hour, Tamar shared her experiences growing up in Palestine and attending Lutheran schools there. Also that day, CLC members had opportunity to support students of Lutheran schools and education programs run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land, through scholarships provided by Opportunity Palestine. A total of $850 was raised. Many thanks to all who gave so generously!
Tamar with Nancy Tupper, who took the initiative to set up this fundraiser at Christ Lutheran Church in Ferndale, WA in which she donated flower arrangements in vases that she had collected and asked people to take an arrangement and leave a donation for the ELCJHL Schools. Nancy was moved after visiting ELCJHL schools during a Holy Land Tour last year. We're thankful for these two inspiring women leaders of the ELCA and ELCJHL.
Do you have an idea for a fundraiser? Get in touch with us so we can support you!