A generous donation from a philanthropist in Cairo funded the purchase of a new 19-passenger van for the Tomorrow’s Youth Organization center in Nablus! The van means a lot to TYO’s entire community, because they come to TYO from all over the city of Nablus and its refugee camps.
As a result of poverty, minimal public transportation infrastructure, and the safety risks of moving around the city, most Nabulsis with whom we work have never ventured beyond their immediate neighborhoods. Further, the large population of the three refugee camps within the city limits (about 1/3 of Nablus’s 120,000 people) is as isolated from residents of the ‘city’ of Nablus as those in the far-away city of Jerusalem.
Stereotypes and mistrust flourish as a result of this lack of exposure to residents of Nablus’s other camps and neighborhoods. Indeed, on the first days of each TYO session, we see a variety of name-calling, teasing, and occasional physical conflict among the children who live in different areas of the city. Tensions have even flared between mothers from different neighborhoods in aerobics and computer classes.
But these quickly subside as the participants get to know each other. This spring, one family said: “Our children have formed new friendships across Balata/Askar lines” [two refugee camps located next to each other on the edge of Nablus].
This summer, for the first time, we have opened registration for some of the summer camps run by international interns to families from the city of Nablus who do not live in the five at-risk areas where most of our beneficiaries live. With the incentive of enjoying a high-quality educational and fun summer program, both children and parents have put aside their stereotypes about people they don’t usually associate with and we’ve seen barriers tumble. Summer intern Doris reports that some of the new participants from the city request to visit other classes at TYO, eager to join in on the movie-making, photo-taking fun with the participants from the camps and our other primary target areas.
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