Photo of the Day: Interns 2009!

TYO is thrilled to launch its second Summer Program, including international interns! The first 5 (of 7) have arrived, and enjoyed a wonderful evening at a new restaurant in Nablus’s Old City last night. The highlights included fresh lemon-mint juice, Arabic coffee and an extended ice-breaking game of Apples-to-Apples!

Interns will be blogging here soon – keep your eyes out for more!

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Photo of the Day: Happy Birthday Imad!

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Imad is the TYO Volunteer Coordinator. Happy Birthday Imad!! Thanks for being such a great team member.

Photo of the Day: Teachers Continue Training

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This week the Core Program Teachers created orginial art pieces for their classrooms out of the recycled materials they collected during the previous week. Above is the stadium TYO Sports Teacher Haitham created this week.

Next step in cooperation with Cherie Blair Foundation

Following Mrs. Cherie Blair’s visit last week (May 3), TYO has moved to the next step of cooperation, submitting a proposal for a joint project with the Cherie Blair Foundation in honor of Mother’s Day yesterday. We suggested an eight-month pilot project that would train members of TYO’s community (university volunteers and mothers of our participants) in life skills and design and marketing techniques. The outcome of the project would be to produce modern items reflecting traditional Palestinian embroidery skills for international sale. The larger goal would be to empower women as creative and productive community members, promoting financial security for themselves and their families.

CBF staff are reviewing the proposal so that we can continue our discussion about working together in the coming days. In the meantime, we wanted to share the following information about CBF’s work:

The mission of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women is to provide the business skills and tools that will enable women across the world to realise their potential and achieve economic independence and success.

Women with economic security and independence have greater control over their own and their children’s lives. Economic empowerment also gives women an influential voice in tackling injustice and discrimination in their own communities and in wider society.

“I am passionate about championing the cause of women. Whenever I can, I do so through my professional life as a human rights lawyer.
And I also have used my higher personal profile over the last few years to take the message out to any audience which will listen to me.
So I have spoken to audiences about the importance of women’s rights here across Europe and North America but also in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. And wherever I have been, I always tried to grab the chance to meet with women to discuss the challenges they face in their own societies.
I have always found these meetings fascinating and frequently inspiring. When you hear first-hand, for example, of the role women are playing in healing the scars of Rwanda, you leave humbled by their courage but also determined to do what you can to help.
What has also struck me is the widespread desire of women in the developing world for advice and support from those of us who live in the more developed countries. They feel such help would not only have a real practical benefit – whether with advice on how best to tackle discrimination or, for example, expand their businesses – but would also play a major role in boosting morale in their fight to improve their lives.
I have also been encouraged by the fact that, whenever I have mentioned this to women in countries like our own, there has been a real enthusiasm to provide this help and support.
That is the reason I have set up the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. Its aim is to help women across the world to realize their potential by promoting and supporting their economic independence and empowerment. In particular, it seeks to promote women’s role and leadership in the global economy by enhancing the growth of women-owned small and medium enterprises in the developing world.
Women with economic security and independence have much greater control over the lives of themselves and their children. It also, importantly, gives women a more influential voice in their communities and wider society to tackle injustice and discrimination.” – Cherie Blair

About the Foundation
Given the prevalence of informal self employment in many African and Asian economies, the expansion of successful micro enterprises into employment-generating small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is of great importance for economic growth. As women are the primary participants in micro finance programmes, the growth and further expansion of these women-owned enterprises is essential.

Evidence shows that the enterprise gender gap widens for established business owners (enterprises existing beyond 42 months), suggesting that women face specific barriers to establishing and expanding vibrant businesses. Although no single barrier explains the gap, studies find that women entrepreneurs are less likely to have knowledge and experience in financial management and are less likely to have and utilize business networks – two critical areas for successful business.

While micro finance programmes often provide a basic level of training in financing, women looking to grow their businesses will require a much higher skill level in finance and management. The market currently lacks training and networking programmes to support women in this expansion and micro finance providers have expressed great interest in linking their most successful clients (approximately 1-3%) to a more advanced business development programmes. The CBFW will do just that, partnering with micro finance organizations and business service providers to develop a new programme to support women entrepreneurs grow into and thrive at the SME level.

Final Parents Survey, Spring 2009 Session

The Core Program Teachers conducted a Final Parent Survey following the end of the Spring 2009 Session. The teachers contacted forty-six parents over the phone and asked them questions designed by Suhad. TYO compares Initial and Final Parent Surveys to determine the impact of its program on each child and identify which children could benefit from further services either from TYO or by referral.

  • 93% of parents reported that their child likes coming to TYO
  • 96% of parents reported that their child learned new things as a result of attending the TYO Core Program
  • 83% of parents reported that their child formed new friendships as a result of attending the TYO Core Program
  • 93% of parents reported that there is progress in their children’s familial interactions and 91% reported progress in their child’s peer interactions
  • 89% of parents reported that their child had a better understanding of safety
  • 83% of parents reported that their child is less shy as a results of attending the TYO Core Program
  • 81% of parents reported positives changes in their child’s sleep patterns
  • 89% of parents reported improvement in their child’s self-expression
  • 76% of parents reported improvement in their child’s control of his temper

Click Read More to view comments from parents here or visit the TYO hompage and view our Results page which highlights our impact over the last year.

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Photo of the Day: Teacher Training!

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On Tuesday, 5 May and Wednesday, 6 May TYO teachers and staff participated in their second week of an intensive four-month training program.  The TYO staff is participating in an important training on the Holistic Integrated Approach to early childhood education. The training is led by MaDad, founded by Jacqueline Sfeir, former Dean of the Faculty of Education at Bethlehem University and 2007 Ashoka Fellow. Jacqueline and her team will work alongside the TYO team before and during TYO’s summer session to provide a theoretical insight into the value of a child-centered, reflective approach to teaching, as well as extensive practical examples of ways to apply this approach in the classroom.

Another important outcome of the MaDad training will be renovation of TYO’s classrooms and shared spaces as enriching, safe and familiar spaces. This renovation will use recycled and other found materials to the greatest extent possible—turning other peoples trash into childhood treasures.

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Mrs. Cherie Blair visits TYO Nablus

TYO was honored to receive Mrs. Cherie Blair in Nablus on Sunday, 3 May 2009 along with Henriette Kolb, a colleague from the recently founded Cherie Blair Foundation. The visit was Mrs. Blair’s first stop on a 3-day trip to the West Bank. Her time in Nablus included a luncheon with a range of accomplished artisans and businesswomen from Nablus, a tour of the TYO Center, and focus group discussions with TYO volunteers and mothers of TYO participants. The day’s activities were designed to identify needs in Nablus that could be addressed through cooperation between TYO and the Cherie Blair Foundation.

The discussions revealed a great deal about the challenges to doing business in Nablus, as well as the aspirations of the members of each group. Several volunteers presented Mrs. Blair with examples of their handicrafts while explaining how the economic situation in Nablus prevents them from creating viable business ventures here. “There is an appreciation for embroidered handicrafts in our culture, but they cost too much to make and most local women cannot afford to purchase them for their homes,” said Economics major Rawand, 23, from Khallet al-Amood neighborhood in Nablus. “The purchasing power must come from the outside. However, we struggle with how to package and sell our crafts to a foreign market.” Mrs. Blair engaged in a rapid-fire brainstorming session about ways that the volunteers could apply their very advanced handiwork skills to products that would be sought after internationally. The volunteers responded in kind with great enthusiasm about the opportunity to benefit from such guidance.

Other young women spoke of the importance of practical experiences and personal development. “Before volunteering at TYO, I did not have any hope in the future. Here, I found that I have worth. TYO showed me that in order to use my degree and my skills, I must first appreciate myself,” said Aya, 21, from Beit Furik village near Nablus. “Volunteering at TYO showed me that I need more exposure to children in order to better implement my degree.” Aya is currently studying Sociology at An Najah University and hopes to become a social worker for child prisoners in Palestine.

Athare, 22, a Management Information Systems major from Nablus city echoed her peers’ sentiments. “Soon after I started volunteering at TYO, I came to understand the importance of personal development and diverse experiences. If I don’t have practical experiences, I won’t get a job. Opportunities in Nablus are extremely limited and even opportunities abroad, which culturally are seen as only for men, have significantly decreased due to the financial crisis. Now, the majority of the people who graduated in my field last semester are unemployed.”

While the young women were not shy to share the somber economic realities in Nablus with Mrs. Blair, no one present displayed the slightest hint of discouragement. They affirmed the importance of the opportunities that TYO has presented them with to gain practical experience, and the potential of a business incubator or other training program as proposed by the Cherie Blair Foundation. The volunteers emphasized their eagerness to engage their skills to improve their family’s well-being and stability, and that of the community at large.

TYO staff are already hard at work on developing a proposal about ways to operationalize the day’s discussions into a collaborative project between TYO and the Cherie Blair Foundation. We are very grateful for Mrs. Blair’s dedication to the cause of women’s economic empowerment around the world, and her commitment to and interest in the West Bank and Nablus in particular.