Jenan Al-Syad Ahmad (23 years old) is a young Palestinian woman activist living in the town of Dura in the south of West Bank where youth lack public spaces and suffer from marginalization. Jenan has started her journey of voluntary work and community activism after she finished her university education by becoming a member in the youth council of her town. This membership opened the door for Jenan to participate in the activities and trainings of ActionAid Palestine (AAP) programe of “Civil and Democratic Participation of Palestinian Youth” (CIV) that includes life and professional skills trainings as training of trainers, communication, participatory facilitation and internships. With those trainings, Jenan was able to build her professional skills and expand her networks saying: “those trainings allowed me find a new source of income by working as a trainer with some organizations and encouraged me to continue my voluntary work and community initiatives in public institutions as the department of youth and culture in Hebron municipality”.
Jenan leads and participates in community and voluntary initiatives that aim to develop her environment and the lives of her people under different conditions they pass through. One of those initiatives was installing recycling bins in the streets of her city to keep its cleanliness.
COVID-19 was a great opportunity for Jenan who used it to participate in different voluntary works aiming to respond to the needs of the marginalized groups and strengthen the community resilience and cohesion. Through AAP’s response to COVID-19 in Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt), Jenan participated in packaging food parcels and hygiene kits provided to marginalized families and families in health quarantine. In addition, Jenan visited patients with COVID-19 to provide them with psychological support and joined emergency committees and worked with them to prepare food meals to patients in health quarantine centers. She led advocacy campaign on social media to encourage businessmen and organizations to support Dura hospital in her town for COVID-19 cases. Jenan was volunteered to help AAP in delivering hygiene and health kits and personal protective equipment provided by AAP to medical staff.
Voluntary work is very useful for Jenan saying: “it increased my knowledge about the concerns and needs of my community and the details of its daily life. Thanks for AAP for giving me those opportunities that allow me to exchange experience and knowledge with others and become a community youth activist”.
Jenan joined Palestinian police to support their mission in distributing masks and imposing wearing them because she believes that youth can play a role in strengthening police’s role in enforcing the law related to adherence to safety and health measures during COVID-19 crisis.
Jenan said: “engaging in those activities during the past few years in general and COVID-19 strengthened my personality and my feelings of community affiliation. I feel happy when I serve my community during COVID-19 because it is important for youth to have a role under these difficult conditions. Voluntary work opens new horizons in civil, political, and democratic participation for youth”.
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.
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Coordinator of Advocacy and Communication in Palestine
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