Operation Smile Screening at the TYO Center

On Sunday, November 28, 2010, the Tomorrow’s Youth Organization hosted a medical screening session for Operation Smile. This international medical NGO provides cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries for children in need around the world, including children in Palestine. The objective of the screening session was to find eligible children from the northern West Bank to travel to Jordan in early December for surgery with Operation Smile doctors. (Another screening session was recently held in Hebron for children in the southern West Bank.) Of the 43 cases that were screened at the TYO Center on Sunday, 19 children were chosen for surgery in Jordan.

Operation Smile staff present a gift to TYO Center Director Humaira as a token of their appreciation

For the third year in a row, TYO Health Teacher and Volunteer Coordinator Ahmad Hanani has worked hand-in-hand with Operation Smile to publicize and execute a screening session. Publicity efforts leading up to the event included advertisements in local radio, TV, and newspapers; banners hung in public places in various cities; and brochures distributed around the cities. This is the second year that the screening took place at the TYO Center in Nablus. Families traveling from all over the northern West Bank to have their children screened expressed their appreciation and thanks to TYO for assisting with this event.

Intern Journal: Conversing and Corresponding in English

In addition to the dance and aerobics classes that I teach on-site at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization, I recently started leading English conversation classes at An-Najah National University for second-year medical students.  Most of my students have studied English for ten or more years, and they are all eager to put what they’ve studied to practical use in order to communicate effectively with native English speakers.  In our most recent class session, my students worked with a partner to develop appropriate dialogues to accompany the medical and social scenarios I assigned them, which ranged from communicating with a patient at the doctor’s office to inviting fellow classmates to form a study group.  I also arranged for my students to write a joint letter to an American peer: a fellow alumnus of Georgetown University who is now studying at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  My students described their experiences studying medicine in a Palestinian context, and they were curious to learn about the opportunities and challenges that present themselves to medical students in the United States.  A few of them shared their motivations for pursuing a career in medicine, describing a doctor as “a servant to heal other’s wounds” and the medical profession as “the best way to help people,” and they asked their American “pen-pal” why he had chosen to study medicine.  We expect to hear back from him before our next class session, and his response should provide some interesting material for a class discussion!

– Julie

Julie is an intern at TYO Nablus and a participant in the Kalimatna Initiative.

The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and The Portland Trust Visit FWEN at TYO

Nicola samples FWEN participant Nehaya’s homemade Palestinian cuisine

Martin Kaye, a trustee of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women (CBFW) and Nicola Cobbold, Managing Director of The Portland Trust visited the Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in Nablus (FWEN) project at TYO on Wednesday, November 24, 2010. Their visit came at the height of the project’s first phase as the women behind the ten leading business plans work diligently to advance their proposals and determine the support (financial, in-kind and supervisory) required for their successful development and implementation as pilot businesses.

The FWEN participants created booths displaying their business concepts and sample products to the visitors and received personalized feedback and suggestions. Several invited guests took the opportunity to purchase jars of specialty coffee from Rima and Afnan and clothing from H2 Fashion Design. The Portland Trust contracted Sahar to design a flyer for an upcoming event.

Mr. Kaye and Ms. Cobbold also met with the FWEN Steering Committee, comprised of leaders from diverse areas of the public and private sectors in the West Bank, who provide guidance and expertise within the context of the Nablus economy to the young businesswomen. Katie Highet, Client Outreach and Account Manager at long-time partner SoukTel, also joined the meeting. They shared a stimulating session on the possibilities and challenges of securing funding for the innovative business plans.

Mrs. Blair and Hani Masri, a Palestinian American businessman and founder of Tomorrow’s Youth Organization, launched the FWEN project as a 2009 Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action. The Small Enterprise Center (SEC) in Ramallah, the technical partner for this project, provides invaluable and ongoing training and mentoring support. At the 2010 CGI conference, TYO signed a new three-way CGI commitment with CBFW and SoukTel to offer FWEN participants and their mentors cutting-edge mobile technologies to launch and advance their businesses.

Cocktails and Cultures of Friendship

If one wishes to bond with a young Nabulsi, “going out for cocktails” is bound to be the chosen means.

However, once one actually tries a Nablus cocktail, it becomes readily apparent that cocktails here are far beyond any kind available in the United States.  A cocktail in Nablus is a heavenly blend of ice cream, milk, nuts, and fresh fruit on top.  Favorite variations often include dates or honey as well.  A sweet, filling and fresh treat, cocktails are equally popular with families as well as groups of friends.

Over the past several weeks, I have had the chance to go out for cocktails with colleagues and friends at TYO.  One of TYO’s wonderful translators, Diana, invited Adrienne, Julie and me to have cocktails with her on Rafidia Street.  Long after finishing our delicious drinks, we continued to sit together in the restaurant and talk, engaging in topics both light and serious.  Diana asked us how we felt here, whether our assumptions about Palestine and its people had proven true.  We also talked about similarities and differences between American culture and Palestinian culture.  “There are good parts to both cultures, I think,” Diana stated.  Sitting together, four very different young women learning about each other, we all agreed.

Friendships forged over food always seem to last longer, at least in my experience.  Having cocktails seems to crystallize all of the aspects of Nabulsi life that I have come to treasure since arriving here—the need for building understanding, extending gifts of friendship, engaging in lively conversation…and of course, in Nablus none of this is possible unless one is well-fed.

– Ashwini

Ashwini is an intern at TYO Nablus and a participant in the Kalimatna Initiative.

FWEN Profile: Nehaya

Name: Nehaya
Age: 25 years old
Location: Nablus
Business Plan: Traditional Palestinian Cuisine Restaurant

How did you decide to participate in FWEN? What have you gained from the program?

As a student at An-Najah University (she graduated in 2007 with a degree in biotechnology), Nehaya noticed a problem that is universal to students around the world: Because they live far away from their families while at school, many students miss home-cooked meals and crave “comfort food.” Although there are some fast-food restaurants offering delivery on campus, there is no way for students to get the traditional Palestinian dishes their mothers would have made them at home. Continue reading

“Suwarna” Exhibitions A Success!

We are proud and delighted to have completed a two weeks’ traveling exhibition in the West Bank – featuring artwork by the children of Nablus! Photographs were taken by the participants in Triple Exposure, a TYO initiative that aims to develop identity, awareness, and vocational skills among adolescents through teaching photographic expression and the production of public art. These photos were displayed in three venues from October 29 to November 13, where hundreds of visitors were able to benefit from a photographic entryway into a city and people so rarely accessed by the outside world. We began with the Hashimiya School in El Bireh/Ramallah, where teachers, students, nonprofit professionals, and other education-oriented visitors to the World Education Forum were able to view and comment on our students’ photography of their homes, schools, friends, and hobbies.

"Suwarna" at the World Education Forum

The exhibition, named “Suwarna,” the Arabic word for “Our Pictures,” then moved to the Hamdi Munko Center in Nablus, where the participants and their families had the greatest opportunity to visit and show off their work to their friends and peers! The Hamdi Munko Center is a centrally-located municipal children’s center where the exhibition was visited by families, school groups, youth, professionals, and tourists originating from Jaffa to Japan.

"Suwarna" at the Hamdi Munko Center in Nablus

After a weekend in Nablus, “Suwarna” moved to the Ramallah Ottoman Court, a renovated Ottoman courthouse that is home to a beautiful exhibition space, filled with traditional stone archways and flanked by a wide balcony overlooking the Old City. Again a large number of students and professionals, young and old, visited the exhibition to appreciate the children’s artistic talents and to draw from their unique insights into life in Nablus.

Enthusiastic media coverage brought the exhibition to those who were not able to visit in person, furthering TYO’s continuing goal of teaching the young participants in “Triple Exposure” how to use their photography and art in order to connect with the world around them. See below for links to the online coverage of “Suwarna.”

Haaretz, “Nablus, through the photographic eyes of Palestinian children”

Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre, “‘Suwarna’ depicts Palestinian dreams through youth’s eyes”

Palestine Monitor, “Occupation Through A Child’s Eyes”

Nablus TV, “Tomorrow’s Youth Organization Opens the Suwarna Exhibition in Ramallah”

Nablus TV, “Tomorrow’s Youth Organization Opens the Suwarna Exhibition in Ramallah” [photo gallery]

Panet (Panorama Group), “Opening of the Suwarna Exhibition at the Hamdi Munko Center”

“Suwarna” would not have been possible without the tireless support of the Tomorrow’s Youth Organization staff and volunteers, the Ottoman Court staff, the Hamdi Munko staff, the Ramallah and Nablus Municipalities, Zoom Advertising, and the World Education Forum volunteers. We are sincerely grateful for their efforts.

FWEN Profile: Hayfa & Ayat

Name: Hayfa and Ayat
Age: 24 years old
Location: Balata refugee camp
Business Plan: Recycling Plant

How did you decide to participate in FWEN? What have you gained from the program?

When Hayfa and Ayat, two friends from Balata refugee camp, saw an advertisement for FWEN online, they knew it was the perfect opportunity for them to make their dream a reality. They had both graduated from An-Najah University in 2009 with degrees in chemical engineering, and their graduation project on recycling had won a scientific award from the Arab American University in Jenin. Hayfa and Ayat knew that they wanted to take the ideas from their award-winning project and turn it into a profitable and innovative business: to create the first recycling plant in Palestine. Continue reading