This programming season, which kicked off last month, PPI – ME is reaching 150 new kids! Some of these children have joined in existing PPI communities, like Jerusalem and Jaffa, but others are joining us from totally new communities. One of the new communities where PPI – ME has begun working is Tamra, a working-class Muslim-Arab town in the Lower Galilee region of Israel, located 15 miles from the ancient port city of Acre. Tamra is a city of about 28,000 inhabitants. Tamra is a very young city, with around 70 percent of the population under the age of 30. For all of those young people, you need a lot of schools; that’s why this relatively small municipality has 13 of them.
We decided to start working there after meeting basketball players and coach Ferial Sakran Khattib, a Tamra native. Ferial is a phenomenal basketball player and a sport for social change trailblazer known for being the first Arab woman ever to play for the Israeli Premiere League team and for representing the country around the world. These days, Ferial is focusing on the educational side of basketball and is coaching girls’ basketball players in her hometown.
We first met Ferial last year, when she came to run a workshop with Palestinian young women of the MEPI Leadership Development Program. As one of the few, although the numbers are growing, Arab women basketball players in the region, Ferial offers inspiration as a woman and as an Arab, showing that with determination and hard work, anything is possible.
Starting this year, we will have two girls’ teams in Tamra: one team of Minis and one team of 11-13-year olds. Tamra’s “twin” team is Zichron Yaakov, a Jewish town about half an hour to its south. The two new communities of Tamra and Zichron Yaakov constitute an important step for PPI, because they mark our first expansion into the north of Israel, where many Arab and Jewish towns exist side by side, but with almost no contact between each other’s inhabitants. Through basketball, we’re now helping Arab and Jewish children in the north finally get to know their neighbors and have fun in the process. Welcome to PPI, Tamra!