1985-1994: Pioneering Agricultural Development in Palestine
First step: reclaiming the land
Three-year-old Hoda sits on the floor totally engrossed in the large colorful book in her lap. She and her 80 classmates at Najdeh preschool in Ein El Helweh refugee camp had just received a supply of new books, delivered by ANERA. Hoda couldn’t wait to ask her teacher about all the new things she saw in the book: “Is the blue whale big as big as our kindergarten?”
A Tough Winter in Gaza
Life in Al Sawarha, Gaza reflects the simplicity and pride of its residents. Kids growing up in the rural community walk through green fields planted with cactuses, olive trees, and vegetables. But families of Al Sawarha are poor and can’t afford many of the most basic necessities, including shoes for their children.
The lack of proper footwear presents challenges for the 50 preschoolers who have to walk to and from the Atfal Mustaqbal Preschool each day, especially in cold, winter weather.
Nestled within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Spafford Children’s Center has served Palestinians in East Jerusalem for over 100 years. The center has experienced many changes throughout the years and managed to withstand political challenges and ongoing turbulence.
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In the small West Bank town of Beit Jala, a new Al Bayyara park breathes life into a community that’s been devastated by conflict and poverty. This community playground is the most recent of three West Bank playgrounds built in 2014 as part of the Al Bayyara project, which has produced nine parks since its inception.
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When Kifayah Abu-Hasheesh spotted a small red mass on her four-year-old son’s right foot, she took him to Gaza’s Palestine Medical Relief Society (PMRS) Clinic. “I explained to the doctor that he was playing with other kids in the neighborhood and came home, crying in pain. I wasn’t that worried until I noticed the red mass swelling. He didn’t sleep that night because of the pain,” Kifayah added. At the Gaza clinic, she learned that her child had an abscess and needed immediate treatment.
Sabra Abu Naseer has been a farmer for 30 years. The 55-year-old divorced mother of three owns two dunums (half an acre) of land next to her house in Gaza. Sabra is well known in the neighborhood for sharing her fragrant tea and freshly baked bread with women who gather for her lively conversations. “I inherited this piece of land from my ancestors. I learned all about agriculture from my father and from working in flower gardens for nine years in Israel,” says Sabra. “Life on the land isn’t just a choice we make.
Amineh Sharawneh finally entered an eye clinic in Hebron, West Bank after suffering for a long time from blurred vision. At 67, Amineh has had diabetes for 10 years and it has been badly affecting her vision for the past two.
Amineh reported seeing floating objects accompanying the blurriness. After a thorough examination of her eyes, a doctor diagnosed Amineh with cataracts – a clouding of the eye lens.
Winter has hit Lebanon full force with its freezing temperatures, bone-chilling wind and snow. Refugee camp residents across Lebanon face the harsh conditions with little heat or proper clothing. Palestinian families fled their homes in Syria, leaving everything behind except a few articles of clothing and a pair or two of summer shoes.
In two of Lebanon’s refugee camps, where residents have grown accustomed to the sounds of violence and despair, there is a new and welcome noise: the giggles of children in a newly renovated preschool.
When Principal Reem El-Bohesy opened the new pink door of her Gaza preschool to welcome her 67 students, she noticed that they were unusually excited. “I wasn’t sure what was happening. I asked myself, is this because of the new pink door or do my wonderful children have a surprise waiting for me?” For Reem, little jokes provide a small break from the toughness of life in Gaza. “I love children. When I see them in the morning my spirits are lifted. I wish I could stay with them for the rest of my life,” she added.
“Children represent life, love and innocence,” she said.
In 2002, Manale Hamid Abdel Al Aal, joined a women’s program in Nahr El Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon. Like other women in the camp, she wanted to take sewing classes to earn some income and help support her family.
Right from the start it was clear that Manale had a great talent for designing sophisticated clothing and for teaching. Her newly uncovered talents quickly opened up opportunities for her to teach at Nahr El Bared’s Women’s Program Center. “As women, sewing is the best thing to learn, if we want to support our families and make a living,” says Manale.
ANERA is proud to announce its partnership with the UN's Children Agency UNICEF to implement a one-year emergency development program for refugee youth affected by the Syrian crisis in Lebanon.
The $1.5 million program, funded by Germany, entitled "Quick Impact Skills Development for Adolescents Affected by the Syrian Crisis," is part of UNICEF's humanitarian assistance for Lebanon as the country copes with the influx of refugees from the Syrian civil war.
Siham Jundiya and her mother-in-law hang up children’s clothes on a rope they tied between two trees in front of their family’s tent, which they set up a few miles from their destroyed house in Gaza. The family has been living in the makeshift shelter since they left their shelter at a UN school this past summer. They could not affaord to fix up or rent a safer place for the family. “This is what we were able to salvage from the rubble of our house, explains Syham. Pointing to the clothes on the line, she adds, “They never really dry.”
Washington, DC - ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) honored Reach Out to Asia at its Annual Dinner for ROTA's generous support and partnership in youth programs and vocational training in Lebanon..
The 2014 bombing destroyed many homes and farmland in Gaza. But it also damaged or destroyed several preschools and other education facilities. For some, it was not the first time.
In the 2009 bombings, the staff at the Tufulah Hadeetha preschool in Zaytoon area of Gaza City had to leave the area and rent another building in order to welcome back their students after the bombings stopped. The building had been damaged almost beyond repair.
$7,000,000: total so far of what ANERA has spent on relief and development programming in Gaza since the beginning of the war.
Identified a vendor for the clothing and shoe vouchers for women and children from the Shejaeya and Zaytoon neighborhoods. The distribution is planned for the week after Eid, mid-October.
For two years, 65-year-old Ata Zidat has been a regular visitor to a charitable clinic in his town of Bani Na’im, in the southern West Bank. Zidat is a father of 11 now grown up children and the grandfather of 22 kids. He suffers from chronic ulcers.
Like many people in his village, he is unemployed and lives in poverty. “Before coming here to consult with the doctor, I used to buy the medication from a private drug store and it cost me $6.50, which is a heavy burden for a chronic ulcer patient like me,” he explained.
by ANERA President Bill Corcoran
With the buzz of drones overhead I was processed through Erez Crossing into Gaza. My baggage comprised two backpacks full of gifts from HQ staff for Gaza co-workers and water bottles for me. On the other side, the Hamas terminal had been obliterated by bombing, along with the luggage scanners and banks of computers for data processing. It was all replaced by a small trailer and some note takers with pad and pen. No bags were checked.
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ANERA’s Gaza office is made up of seasoned education, health and development professionals. For 51 days in July and August, they – like everyone else in Gaza – feared for their lives as bombs rained down on their tiny strip of land. No one felt safe. And yet, despite the bombs and the fear, ANERA’s staff set aside their professional duties and responded to the crisis in whatever way they could be most useful. They took on a variety of emergency relief roles because they wanted to help the neediest in the devastated communities around them.