This blog post was contributed by Fadi, who works in FoEME’s Bethlehem office.
On the 17th of October 2010, Friends of the Earth Middle East celebrated the first official day for its Al Auja Eco Center. A great celebration marked the opening of the center and coincided with the celebration of ´Jericho 10,000´, the celebration of the oldest city in the world.
The opening was attended by many important people – governmental and public representatives. Also citizens from Al Auja community, which counts more than 350 people, joined the ceremony.Mrs. Kholoud Debbie’s, the Minister of Tourism and the representation of the Palestinian Government, cut the ribbon to open the center.
The opening program began with a welcoming speech from Al Auja Chairman of the Board, followed by Mrs. Kholoud Debbie’s talk about the importance of FoEME’s Eco Center and mentioned that there should be more places like this, places that care about the environment and raise awareness in the communities. Next was Mr. Nader Al Khatib, FoEME’s Palestinian director, who speeched in which he welcomed the guests and gave a short introduction about the center and FoEME’s plans in supporting the community and raising environmental awareness. After that, a beautiful environmental poem was read by a girl from Al Auja community, followed by a small play from a group of students from Al Auja. The play talked about the environment and how we should take care of it, keeping it clean and safe from damage. Finally, the program finished with the voice of the Palestinian super star George Thaljeye.
After the ribbon was cut the guests made a small tour in the center. In the meeting room there was an exhibition of some of the traditional handmade crafts from banana leafs and embroidery, as well as some environmental models from papers and cardboard made by groups of students from different places in Palestine. The models showed some of the problems that the students face in their country, like pollution, cutting of trees, lack of water and more.
The tour ended with a visit to the roof of the Eco Center, where some refreshments and drinks were served, and to give the guests the opportunity to see the nice view. The day ended with saying goodbye to all guests.