Alumni Spotlight: Fatima Yahia
In February 2017, Hand in Hand Alumni Fatima Yahia and Bar Itamari stood together in front of thousands at a gathering for Jewish-Arab cooperation and said:
Bar and Fatima became friends in 1st grade when they started in Hand in Hand’s Wadi Ara School, Gesher al HaWadi, in 2004. After they graduated 6th grade in 2009, they went to different schools, but stayed in touch as they grew up and kept the values they learned in school alive in their daily lives.
“We are here to assure all of you that
living together is possible.”
I grew up in the village of Kfar Qara. I’m the oldest of two, and both me and my younger sister Zeina went to Hand in Hand. I live close to my mother’s family in the village, and my cousins and I would always go straight to my grandparent’s house when we can home from school. Kfar Qara will always be my home, I will always come back here
I joined Hand in Hand in first grade, in the first year of the school. My parents really believe in shared living and in equality and they thought that it would be empowering for me to be in a shared school, to give me something that they didn’t have. It was important for my family that we are successful academically, my parents always pushed us to do well in school. They know that as an Arab citizen in Israel, it’s harder to succeed and they wanted to give us the best. They also always wanted us to be rooted in our Palestinian identity and to be aware of our history and of current events. At the same time, I also learned from them that we need to understand the other side, to know both narratives. I remember that before I started in Hand in Hand, they debated whether they wanted to send me – it was a big decision, because it was a new school, and they were worried that i would lose my identity. What they didn’t know then was that the opposite would happen.