After hours of picking ripe olives on her small, inherited plot of land, Aamna Al-Jadaa was restless for days on end. She’d been advised by her family doctor not to overwork herself after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis four years ago. But even with chronic pain, this vivacious 72-year-old does not want to rest.

“Every joint in my body hurts,” said Aamna with a smile. This mother of six and grandmother of 20 youngsters laughs to make light of the situation. It’s just been made better because the new charitable hospital in town finally has the right medication for her.

ANERA delivered the medicine Diclofenac Potassium to her West Bank village of Halhoul, thanks to a donation from Direct Relief. “It is used as a painkiller, anti-inflammatory drug and antibiotic. It is simply fundamental,” said Aamna’s doctor, Dr. Yousef Al-Nawaj’a.   

Dr. Al-Nawaj'a works at a Palestine clinic and cares for patients like Aamna.

“In our society, women bear a heavy burden upon their shoulders: giving birth and raising children, doing endless household chores, tending to the land and earning a living.,” said Dr. Al-Nawaj’a.

Dr. Al-Nawaj’a is careful when prescribing medication to older patients like Aamna. “For seniors, and especially chronic patients, we make sure the dosage is not too high so we can avoid any side effects.”

“This great woman has dedicated her entire life to serving her family, and I am glad I can give back to women like her,” said Dr. Al-Nawaj’a.

Like many of her neighbors, Aamna lives in poverty and would not be able to afford medicine on her own. The dreadful economic situation in Halhoul has left most residents impoverished and jobless. Families often have many children to feed, clothe and educate. So it’s a blessing when expensive medicines are available free of charge. Halhoul’s lone hospital depends on ANERA’s donations of medicines and medical supplies as it serves all 30,000 residents of the city.

“This great woman has dedicated her entire life to serving her family, and I am glad I can give back to women like her,” said Dr. Al-Nawaj’a. “In our society, women bear a heavy burden upon their shoulders: giving birth and raising children, doing endless household chores, tending to the land and earning a living. This can certainly drain their health.”

Seasonal Illnesses Strain Palestine Clinics

Palestine clinic in Dura survives on donated medicines like Augmentin.

“With the donated medicine I’ve prescribed, they will be back to their playful selves in no time,” said Dr. Dudeen.

Not far from Halhoul, the city of Dura deals with many of the same struggles with about the same population. Yet Dura has no hospital and depends largely on a small charitable clinic for everyday health matters. The clinic keeps a steady stock of vital medications that are entirely provided by ANERA.

“Our partnership with ANERA is as invaluable as medicine for a patient in need,” said Dr. Dudeen.

“Our partnership with ANERA is as invaluable as medicine for a patient in need,” said Dr. Salem Dudeen.”We have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for ANERA and its dedicated donors. Without their help, we wouldn’t be able to continue serving the poor.”

At this small clinic in the heart of Dura, doctors and nurses have seen a lot of sick children and adults this season. They treat around 50 – 60 patients a day, and most suffer from upper respiratory infections, which spread rapidly during the changing seasons. ANERA’s recent shipment also included Augmentin, a medicine that combats the spread of bacteria and infections.

Palestine clinics survive on donated medicines like Augmentin.

Augmentin combats the spread of infection and is invaluable to Palestine clinics like the one in Dura.

Two of those patients are three-year-old Mariam and 10-year-old Arafat, who lay side by side on hospital beds. Their worried mothers waited beside them, waiting their turn to be examined. It turned out that both children had tonsillitis and throat infections. “There is nothing to worry about,” he said, reassuring them. “With the donated medicine I’ve prescribed, they will be back to their playful selves in no time.”

Vital donations by committed partners have helped these medical facilities function efficiently, allowing them to develop, grow and reach more people in need. ANERA’s shipment of medicines from Direct Relief bring peace of mind to restless grandmothers like Aamna and the worried mothers of Mariam and Arafat.

 

ANERA offers vocational and literacy courses to refugee youth who can’t attend school in Lebanon. Many of the youth in ANERA’s program live in vulnerable circumstances and had to drop out of school to support their families. Through the courses, some them are redirected to formal education, while others are provided with more technical job skills that support their future careers. Below, we’ve highlighted some stories from recent graduates. Their incomes may be modest but have a big impact on improving their livelihoods.

The program was launched in partnership with UNICEF, German Cooperation, UK AID and the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

Meet Halima, 19 | Secretary

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Halimah, 19, is a Palestinian refugee from Ein El Hilweh camp in southern Lebanon. She dropped out of school in the 9th grade, and later joined non-formal literacy, math and skills training courses at the Women’s Program Association – ANERA’s local partner. Her hard work impressed the director of the association, who hired her as a secretary. She’s been been working at the association now for two and a half months.

“I started with a modest salary, but it’s enough for me to cover my own needs independently,” Halima said. “As soon as I complete my third month, I will get a raise.”

Meet Bashar, 16 | Pastry Chef

Syrian youth learn job skills like pastry-making in ANERA courses

Bashar, 16, fled from his hometown of Homs, Syria four years ago and took refuge in Fneidik, Akkar. His father couldn’t work because he suffered from recurrent strokes, so Bashar became the sole breadwinner of his family. This meant that he couldn’t go to school anymore, and instead worked in a local clothing shop for $3/day. He supports his ill father, his mother, and two younger siblings.

Last summer, Bashar enrolled in ANERA’s pastry-making course and his teacher helped him find a job at a local bakery that tripled is income to $10 per day.

“If I hadn’t heard about this course, I was going to work in construction, since the clothes shop I worked in closed down,” said Bashar. “Now I enjoy my work, and I plan to open my own bakery when I go back to Syria.”

Meet Khaled, 17 | Mobile Phone Maintenance

Syrian youth learn job skills like electronics in ANERA courses

Khaled, 17, dropped out of school in the 7th grade to help his electrician father in supporting their family of seven.  

Khaled joined one of ANERA’s mobile maintenance training courses. After graduation, his father helped him set up a small mobile shop inside Ein El Hilweh camp where they live. The shop opened last October, and Khaled now makes a net profit of $400 each month.

“I have to work to support my family, but this is much safer than working in electricity. I enjoy it much more too. I hope to have a larger shop outside the camp in the future,” Khaled said.

Meet Nariman, 16 | Embroidery

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Nariman, 16, dropped out of school in the 5th grade. She joined an ANERA embroidery course in Ein El Hilweh camp. The high quality of her work caught the attention of a local partner, who offered to buy her pieces and resell them at local fairs. Now Nariman sells seven to eight small pieces each month.

“My parents don’t want me to work outside the house,” said Nariman. “So embroidery is great since I can work from home and deliver the pieces as soon as they are ready.”

Meet Jana, 16,  and Huda, 20 | Decorating

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Jana, 16, and Huda, 20, met at ANERA’s chocolate decorating course in Ein El Hilweh Camp. Here, they are preparing a gift for Huda’s newborn niece.

“This decorated wreath is sold for around $13. Many of my friends and relatives have seen my work and placed an order for custom-made ones,” Huda said.

“I’ve already made wreaths for my aunt and another relative as gifts for newborns,” added Jana.

Meet Ghazi, 17  | Drywall Installation

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Ghazi, 17, dropped out of school in the 8th grade to support his father who works as a painter. When he heard of ANERA’s skills-based training course in Gypsum painting, he joined to develop his skills.

“I enjoy working with drywall more than wall painting, and I volunteered to work with my teacher to get more experience,” Ghazi said.

Now Ghazi installs drywall at homes, offices and shops. The first house he worked on was his brother’s. 

Meet Shady, 23 | Assistant Surveyor

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Shady, 23, from Fneidik, Akkar, dropped out of school in the 8th grade. Since then, he tried to get involved in different activities to learn a profession, but nothing stuck.

Shady joined the AutoCAD class offered as part of ANERA’s skills-based training courses. He liked it and he volunteered to assist the Fneidik Municipality in land surveying for local development projects.

Now, Shady works as an assistant to a surveyor engineer, and earns an income that helps him support his family.

“My father has passed away, and I am the only one working out of my 12 siblings.”

During the 2014 war in Gaza, the Shejaiya neighborhood in the eastern part of Gaza City was heavily bombed. The war damaged hundreds of buildings, leaving thousands of Palestinians homeless. The few preschools in Shejaiya that existed prior to the war were entirely destroyed.

Early childhood development (ECD) is essential to the cognitive, social and emotional growth of children, particularly in conflict zones. That’s why it’s so important for children in Gaza to have access to quality preschools. Yet, two years after the 2014 war, the preschools in this neighborhood were still in ruins.

So in August 2016, ANERA completed the reconstruction of Shejaiya’s Young Stars preschool. With funds from Islamic Relief USA and the support of individual donors, ANERA built five classrooms, a kitchen, child-friendly facilities and a modern outdoor play area with a water fountain.

Now, some 100 children are enrolled in the brand new preschool. The kids learn in a safe and welcoming environment with new playground equipment, child-sized tables and chairs, reading corners and colorful curtains. ANERA also delivered toys, puzzles and books to the school. The preschool teachers are using these materials to engage children in active play. All six teachers at the school will also receive in-service teacher training and mentorship through ANERA’s ECD program.

Watch: Children Go Back to School in Shejaiya

by Jim Shaker, ANERA donor

Both sides of my family are from the Chouf Mountains in Lebanon. They immigrated to the United States around 1900 to follow “the American Dream.” My siblings and I were raised to be very proud of our heritage. My first trip to Lebanon, in 1968, was a profound experience. I met relatives on both sides of my family and felt an extraordinary sense of identity. I particularly remember one of my first cousins picking an orange off a tree in their grove, peeling it and telling me, ‘Always remember this moment.’ And I do remember it, nearly 50 years later.

On that trip, I saw Palestinian refugee camps for the first time and came face-to-face with the terrible conditions in which people were living. I had been mildly aware of the problem before, but there was nothing like seeing it first hand. Over many years and more trips to the region, I became more aware of the problems facing Palestinians and – more recently – Syrian refugees, from lack of employment opportunities to nonexistent health care.

Education for refugees in Lebanon.

Jim gives to help refugees in Lebanon build a brighter future through education.

My family is proof that you can start with next to nothing and still make something. But people need support and basic services. Young refugees need direction as they grow up in Lebanon’s unstable political environment. I can’t change the political environment they live in, and neither can they. But what I can do is make sure they have the tools they need to move forward and seize hope for the future. I believe the greatest gift I can give is education. They say if you educate one person, you educate their whole family. You can make a significant difference on their hopes and aspirations, which translates into opportunities and income.

I give to ANERA to help others have the same opportunities that my parents and I had. I know that ANERA can be trusted to be efficient with the money it receives and spend it where it’s most needed. I know that the goals of ANERA are humanitarian, nonpolitical and nonsectarian. ANERA truly wants to help people in the Middle East build better futures, regardless of their background or religion. For my part, by contributing to ANERA, I am doing the best I can at this point in my life for a people and culture so close to my heart.

ANERA #GivingTuesday: Envision a brighter future for refugees in Palestine and Lebanon

“It’s always been my dream to be a preschool teacher and now I am,” said Zeina Agha, a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon. Now she can help support her family of six, that had been relying only on her father’s modest income as a driver.

Her dream came true after she won an ANERA scholarship to become certified in preschool teaching. In Lebanon, Palestinian refugee youth like Zeina have limited options when it comes to work and education. Most only get a basic education, and about 70 percent graduate from high school. Some try to enroll in vocational training programs when they get the chance.

Creating Options for All Students

Zeina won a scholarship aiming to promote Palestinian youth education in Lebanon.

The Abdel Hadi Debs scholarship is designed to promote Palestinian youth education in Lebanon.

For youth with poor academic records who don’t do well on official government exams, their options are to drop out of school altogether or enroll in vocational training. There are very few vocational training centers in Lebanon and waiting lists are generally long. So many youth who want to go that route never get the chance. For these young Palestinians, the ANERA scholarships to the Abdel Hadi Debs Institute in Beirut are a life-saving opportunity to remain in school and on track in pursuing a better life.

“Upon the inauguration of the program, we were very impressed by the performance of the students,” said Mr. Adel Damaj, director of the Institute. Damaj notes that some students made it to honor lists and were ranked in top positions at the Lebanese national level. Marwa Dirawi is one of those students. She’s  an ANERA scholarship recipient who ranked second in Lebanese national exams in 2015.

This academic year, a total of 15 Palestinian youth, aged 15-18, are getting scholarships to pursue their studies. The students come from the four main refugee camps in the Beirut metro area: Sabra, Shatila, Burj El Barajneh and Mar Elias. In the outreach and candidate selection process, ANERA partnered with Beit Atfal Assamoud, a local organization in the Palestinian camps.

How We Foster Palestinian Youth Education

Fatima is one of the recipients of a scholarship aiming to promote Palestinian youth education in Lebanon.

Fatima is pursuing a degree in preschool education with the help she receives from the Debs scholarship.

The selection of scholarship recipients is based on two criteria: an entrance placement exam and personal interviews. “ANERA coordinates with the Abdel Hadi Debs Institute to guide students to the specialties that play to each person’s strengths,” explained Nisrine Makkouk, ANERA’s education program manager in Lebanon.

“My parents wanted me to continue in the general education system like my older siblings, but technical education was always appealing to me,” explained Fatima Shouni, a student pursuing a degree in preschool education. “Now that I’m ranked first in my class,” added Fatima, “my parents approve!”

In addition to covering tuition, ANERA also follows up with both the students and the institute. Regular parent-student discussion sessions are organized to share challenges and collaborate on solutions. ANERA supports students so they graduate as well-rounded, capable young adults ready to succeed in life.

ANERA also supplements the three-year program with extracurricular activities that build skills like communication and leadership. With tools like these, Palestinian youth have what it takes to shine in the workplace and within their communities.