Rawdat El-Zuhur was established as a charitable organization in 1952 as a home for destitute girls. It was founded by the late Elizabeth Nasir, known to her friends as Lizzy. But as director of the social welfare department in Jerusalem, Jordan at the time, she was Miss Nasir, and the first woman to hold that post. A graduate of the American University of Beirut (1933), she was avante-garde for her generation.
Upon the dispossession of the Palestinians, and the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 on Palestinian land, East Jerusalem was part of the Palestinian area which did not fall under Israeli control. That area was annexed to Jordan until a solution to the Palestine question is found. The area was affected by the influx of refugees from the coastal towns of Palestine who depended on relief and United Nations rations.
Under those circumstances, Elizabeth Nasir was on one of her inspection tours during a very wet and cold day in February 1952, when she ran across two little girls around six and five years old, hanging around on one of the streets of Ramallah north of Jerusalem at a late hour in the afternoon.
Elizabeth Nasir writes:
"The girls came up to me begging and when I asked them why they were doing that, they explained that they were supporting their parents who lived in a nearby village. They also told me that the taxi drivers had pity on them and gave them free lifts back to their village. My conscience pricked me and I accompanied them to their home, and to my horror, I found out that they lived in a bare hovel with torn sack cloth on the floor. The mother was blind, and the father was sick and shivering as it was bitterly cold, and with no food whatsoever around. I could not hold back my tears and I was determined to put an end to their misery and humiliation. There were hardly any orphanages at that time, so I appealed to the Judge to allow me to put the girls up temporarily in the Reformatory. I realized that the Reformatory was not the ideal place for those young girls, but at least they would have shelter and food. So I was very glad when my appeal was granted esspecially when the medical examination showed that those two girls had been molested and they had venereal disease."
A Haven for Palestinian Children