Bethlehem - Palestine – ActionAid Palestine (AAP) supports community initiatives to promote the leadership roles of young men and women in many areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, through its Project of “Strengthening Palestinian young people, Particularly Young Women’s Leadership and Influence for Resilient, Just and Green Societies” Within Strategic Partnership 2 with ActionAid Denmark and funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).
Haya Abu Srour (19 years old) and Halima Abu Ryalah (22 years old) are young refugee activists and volunteers in community work. They perform their community duties and volunteerism through the Aida Youth Center in the Aida camp for Palestinian refugees located in the Bethlehem governorate in the south of West Bank. Haya and Halima are designing and leading community initiatives that respond to the needs of their community in the camp. They received a specialized training in designing and leading community initiatives through the Global Platform Palestine of ActionAid-Palestine. This training encouraged Halima and Haya to start designing a community initiative aiming to enhance community resilience and support marginalized groups in the camp. The two young women found that the elderly women need the support of young men and women. Hence, they decided to design an initiative titled with “Elderly People are Our Blessing " and they implemented it through the Aida Youth Center and with the support of AAP. The two young women showed an inspiring example of youth leadership, which motivated other young women to join this initiative and participate in its activities.
This initiative aimed to shed light on elderly women and engage them in the activities and events organized by community organizations based in Aida Refugee camp and gave the chance to meet with other community groups including women and youth so they can exchange view and experiences and could find young advocates who could advocate for their rights.
This initiative which targeted more than 23 elderly women from Aida camp included many activities lasted for 6 days. Women enjoyed various activities as field visits by general practitioner to women's homes to provide health information about self-care, healthy nutrition, and how to deal with chronic diseases. Women were given psychological support sessions by psycho-social counselor to release psychological stresses. There was health activity including distribution of kits containing health items to women.
This initiative demonstrated the leadership skills and ability to take initiative the refugee youth have. It also reflects refugee youth's sense of social responsibility towards their community. Those skills were employed in identifying the needs of society and the needs of marginalized groups and responding to them. The initiative also contributed to strengthening community cohesion between the different groups of society and enhancing the spirit of cooperation among youth and competition for leading community work.
Haya Abu Srour recognizes the impact of this initiative on her personality: "this initiative provided me with opportunities for public participation due to the lack of public spaces and community activities in the refugee camps. We suffer in Aida camp from the separation wall surrounding the camp. The camp is subjected to Israeli military incursions, shooting and tear gas causing psychological stress and tension for us and camp residents. Therefore, this initiative was breathing space for us that helped me to learn about the mechanisms and means of leading community work. Working with marginalized groups improved my communication skills with community groups and community organizations and deepened our knowledge of community needs and ownership of the reins Initiative and decision-making mechanisms and processes.
Halima Abu Ryala who participated in implementing the activities of this initiative highlights how this initiative impacts her character and community: "it enhanced our community presence and public participation in serving community issues and marginalized groups. This initiative strengthened my self-confidence and my personality. It also broke the barrier of fear of attending and participating in public and open activities attended by community members and institutions. This initiative came at the right time, especially in the light of recent Israeli escalation against refugee camps in the West Bank and lack of opportunities of public and community participation for young refugee women”.
Refugee camps, like other areas in the West Bank, suffer from Israeli escalation of military actions and practices, which include military incursions, storming and searching Palestinian homes, and arrests of young men, women and children. These conditions affect women and members of Palestinian families by increasing their stress and anxiety. They are worry all the time about the lives and safety of their sons, daughters and husbands. They cannot feel secure under military night raids to their camps.
ActionAid ‘s Project of “Strengthening Palestinian young people, Particularly Young Women’s Leadership and Influence for Resilient, Just and Green Societies” seeks to enhance the role of young men and women and actors in the field of environment and climate and enable them to lead and implement actions and initiatives that seek to build green societies. The project also aims to promote environmental practices among Palestinian youth and enhance their role in preserving the Palestinian environment and protecting the land”.
This project provides Palestinian youth with sufficient space to implement their green initiatives and find environmental solutions to climate issues. It also supports and enhances the role of young women, especially in marginalized areas, by empowering them to find sustainable sources of livelihood and enhancing their role in holding the relevant authorities accountable to play their role in the matter of climate.
ActionAid in Palestine (AAP) is a part of global federation working for social justice and gender equality and eradicate poverty in more than 45 countries around the world. AAP started its work in Palestine in 2007 to strengthen the resilience of Palestinian People as ActionAid believes that they should enjoy their rights to freedom, justice and self-determination. AAP implements a number of programs through its engagement with communities and women and youth groups seeking to empower them and enhance their influential civil and political participation to understand their rights and undertake collective activism to address the protracted rights violations resulting from the prolonged occupation of Palestine. AAP works simultaneously to enhance their leadership capacity and knowledge to practice their citizenship in holding authorities and other duty bearers to account.
For more information, please contact
Coordinator of Advocacy and Communication in Palestine
+972 (0) 595242890
+972 (0) (2) 22 13 137