Entsar Abu Jahal reports in Al-Monitor:
A group of young artists and activists in the Gaza Strip launched an initiative in early December in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Gaza municipality and the Iwan Center for Cultural Heritage in Gaza to rehabilitate Kamalaia School in the old part of Gaza City.
The initiative dubbed “Baytkom Amer” (roughly translated as “Your home will always be happy”) is part of the Culture, Arts and Community Participation project promoting the preservation of the cultural heritage of the old city, with a focus on enhancing community dialogue and raising awareness of the importance of culture, which is conducive to such a dialogue.
The project is funded by the Abdul Mohsin al-Qattan Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
The initiative’s coordinator, Abdullah al-Razi, told Al-Monitor that Kamalaia School, which is located in the heart of the old city and was closed in the 1970s, is nearly 800 years old, dating back to the Mamluk era; it was built of ancient limestone on an area of 800 square meters (0.2 acres). He explained that the school had been abandoned for a long time and turned into a dumpster for the neighborhood, while many parties were seeking to take advantage of the building and turn it into a residential or commercial compound given its vital location.
Razi said that the initiative comes within the framework of preserving the cultural heritage of the old city, which is rich in antiquities and historical landmarks, in a bid to activate community dialogue, adopt a cultural heritage and strengthen community ties. He added that the initiative involves a group of artists and educated activists, as well as several volunteers from the area. “Kamalaia School is considered part of the work on marginalized architectural heritage, as a national and a central issue, and part of individual and collective responsibility, aimed at enhancing awareness of the importance of heritage preservation in the old city,” he noted.