Nursery School of Peace

The ‘Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of Rehov Ayin Het’ school, in the Jewish quarter of Morasha, or Musrara in Arabic, is a place run by the ‘Salesian’ nuns since 1906. Two world wars and internal conflicts in 1948 and 1967 had almost destroyed the school, but the sisters always reopened their doors. “Like an Arab phoenix,” Milka Zadravec explains. “Here, the candlestick, the cross and the crescent together form an ecumenical circle for freedom and respect for each other.” 


Since 2001 she has been head of the nursery, which welcomes more than 100 children between three and six years old. Most of them are Muslims who come from far away to attend. “I was reluctant to come at first. It’s a very different mission to my previous place in Lebanon, ” she admits. But she adds that she then realized something important: “In my hands I have a treasure more precious than gold: the future fate of an entire people, the minds to nurture and to develop a foundation for building.”


Peace is built with perseverence, as Milka knows well. She tells how, after the war of ’48, the Salesian school of theoretical and practical administration, languages and commerce in Musrara was finally reformed. The students included about 70 Muslims, Jews and Christians. “But arrogant people threw stones and shouted ‘goyim’ at the girls.”


There are still problems today. “It’s not always possible to create a bridge of friendship between the children with ringlets at the nursery within walking distance from us,” says Milka. “We have noticed, however, some progress,” she admits


Milka doesn’t give up. 


How can you build peace from a nursery? “At every festival, both Christian and Muslim, we prepare properly, with songs and free activities for the festivities. We are all relatives, but all different,” she explains.


You can also learn respect and tolerance by playing football. “One day I saw almost all the children arriving with trainers,” she recalls. “They examined each other’s shoes and argued about the brand and color. Neither I nor the teachers knew about this – the children had agreed by themselves to play football.” Since then football has become part of their activities and it has turned out to be a great exercise for peace: “Learning to enjoy victory, even that of others, by cheering and applauding those who know more than you or who are more capable than you – that is an achievement,” says Milka. She concludes saying: “As long as the child’s life is the focus of our work, as long as development and not profit enrich the child’s growth, then the dawn is already near and peace will renew our Earth.”