RAMALLAH – Al Ahliyyah School in the latin parish of the Holy Family will open a new cooking school in the fall.  This facility is for 16-18 year-olds, and will offer new job opportunities to young people in Palestine. The province of Hainaut in Belgium, has long been associated with the region and has committed to support this project of the Latin Patriarchate Project Development Office.

A future partnership between the gastronomic school and the Province of Hainaut

On Wednesday, April 12, 2017, Serge Hustache, President of the Provincial College of Hainaut, David Bricoult, Director of the International Cooperation Service and a delegation from various political sectors in the Province of Hainaut came to visit the future cooking school in Ramallah. At the initiative of Father Ibrahim Shomali, director of the Holy Family parish school, this training facility will teach cooking to young high school students who do not have the means. The new school intends to provide a high-class restaurant set in a spacious room adjacent to the school.

Tourists and locals will have the opportunity to enjoy delicious meals cooked by the students. “Here in Ramallah, there is a lack of this type of training. After two years, the students will be able to join Bethlehem University, which also offers culinary classes.” The school which will open in autumn has already obtained the accreditation of the Palestinian government which sees in it a wonderful initiative to highlight the culinary heritage of the region.  Kitchen, restaurant, work plans; majority of the work has already been carried out.  To welcome the new students, Father Shomali expects  more specific materials for the learning kitchen.  

Palestinian cuisine or the taste of living together

If excellent  cuisine is an investment, the new school stands out in its desire to pass on to the young people a Palestinian legacy.  Various options will be considered: in addition to the regular courses given to apprentice cooks, the school will offer  a weekly lesson for all the students of the Holy Family School, from elementary to high school, to raise awareness to the foundations of cooking. “One of the objectives of this training is also to continue to encourage dialogue between Christians and Muslims, one of the pillars of the school,” added Father Shomali. “Many parents are sending their children here for coexistence education, specific to the institution”  In this region, where Christians represent only 2% of the population, the Church plays a major social and educational role.

In the long term, the new school also plans to offer simpler dishes affordable to all students and prepare meals in collaboration with the St. Vincent de Paul Society in order to offer them to the poor. The Province of Hainaut, which supports numerous initiatives in the social field, education and training in Palestine, will be part of the project with the financial support of Wallonia-Brussels International, for the purpose of creating a lasting link between the two regions.  To provide the best education, partnership projects are built to bring in renowned teachers and create exchanges between students.  This partnership should soon see the light of day with the hotel schools of Hainaut. This significant support should give this new facility in Ramallah an international dimension.

Claire Guigou

Photo: © Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem