Thousands of people lost their families, houses, livelihood, and jobs due to the Israeli air raid in May 2021 (Gaza).

Program Background

Women in East Jerusalem often face difficulties such as domestic violence and constraints on activities outside the home because of the Israeli occupation and the closed tribal society. JVC provides vocational trainings and gender equality trainings to enable these women to make decisions on their own and become socially and economically independent.

It is already 15 years since the blockade started in Gaza. While the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic still remain strong, people once again suffered a major air raid in May 2021. It made them feel that death is more imminent than ever before and caused great psychological damage. Amidst these worsening social situations, we continued our activities to protect the healthy growth of children together with the community.

Silwan, Al Thouri district, our activity area (East Jerusalem)

The refugee camp, where our activities take place, has become like a town after a long period of displacement (Gaza).

Stories from Our Activities

“This is the first time I can use a sewing machine in my life,” Ms. Ullah said on the first day of the sewing and fashion design training, showing a handmade bag with a shy smile on her face. On the last day of the 120-hour training course, she proudly showed us her handmade trousers with a confident smile. Other women who completed vocational training or soft-skills training said “I couldn’t speak in public before. But now, I can sell what I made in a bazaar. It’s incredible!”, “The certificate of completion gave me confidence.” The trainees in the vocational training said that they not only acquired skills but also renewed their self-awareness. Their outlook in life became more positive through the conversations with the trainers and other trainees. Their family members also noticed the changes and became supportive of them. Through the accumulation of these changes, we can create a society in which women can play an active role.

Ms. Ullah is happily showing the trousers she made in the dressmaking training.

Improvement of livelihood and empowerment of women (East Jerusalem)

Outline of Activities

In order to improve the self-esteem of women by providing them with a means of earning an income, we offered training in vocational skills and human rights and organized an experience exchange tour. 49 females, 51 males, and 50 youth participants joined the program. Through each training, the women gained knowledge and skills, and put them into practice at the bazaar. In addition, the training helped the people, including men and youth, understand basic human rights, promoting their understanding of women’s opinions and social advancement in the community. Based on these achievements and challenges, we have started the second year of the project.

Youths are doing group work on communication skills (East Jerusalem).

Observed Changes

Our survey before and after the training revealed that most of the participants noticed their misconceptions about human rights and gender equality. Now, they try to change their behavior. It can be said that the participants were able to listen to others’ opinions through participatory training and deepen their own ideas through a lively exchange of opinions. Many of the women made time to attend the vocational training despite their busy schedules. So, when they completed the training, they became confident in themselves. The experience of learning new things with their peers has become a valuable asset for them in addition to the knowledge and skills they acquired. Some women even got a grant and started preparing small businesses.

A woman is selling her homemade bread in the bazaar (East Jerusalem).

Malnutrition prevention and health improvement of children (Gaza)

Outline of Activities

In the central Gaza strip, the activities we conducted with public health nurses from AEI, our local partner NGO, and twenty women volunteers are the following: medical checkups for children under 5 years old, the re-examination of children who were found to be malnourished or developmentally disabled or have other diseases, referrals to specialized institutions, parenting counseling to caregivers, and various lectures to caregivers and expectant and nursing mothers.

There were massive air raids in Gaza in May 2021, and in addition to our regular activities, we provided emergency assistance by distributing food and sanitary goods to those who had been in distress and whose houses were damaged by the air raids. We also provided a rehabilitation hospital with medical goods and equipment and conducted mental care training for the staff and volunteers of AEI.

In addition to physical measurement, children’s developmental stages are checked in a medical checkup through plays and conversations (Gaza).

Observed Changes

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection, we were unable to hold training sessions in large numbers as in the past, but we found that the beneficiaries showed increased and widespread interest. For example, parents who had taken a lecture advised those who were worried about how to raise their children. Some parents asked the volunteers and held lectures. Several mothers have commented that they are now more dependable due to the knowledge they have acquired and that they are happy that their families now call them “doktoras” (meaning “women doctors”), which has boosted the mothers’ confidence.

Our Partner Organizations

Al Thouri Silwan Women’s Center (AWC), East Jerusalem

The organization was established in 2007, aiming at realizing a society without discrimination against women. It provides vocational trainings and soft-skills trainings including topics on gender equality and leadership trainings for women and adolescents in Silwan and Al Thouri districts.

Ard El Insan (AEI), Gaza

The organization became independent from a Swiss NGO in 1997 and became the first organization in Gaza that specializes in supporting maternal and child health. It has its own clinic and provides health services, health education, and mental support, aiming at reducing common childhood diseases.

[Source: JVC Annual Report 2021]

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