One of the vital elements for survival in a crisis is a steady high-quality blood supply. In Gaza these days, that is not guaranteed. Recently, the Gaza Central Blood Bank Society (CBBS) ran out of blood bags completely.

Finding enough blood bags in Gaza is nearly impossible, largely due to the 10-year blockade, the lack of funds and limited access to medicine and health care supplies. The CBBS was forced to borrow a small supply from Al Shifa hospital for surgical use, but they did not have any left over. “We have had to rebuff blood donors two or three times. We explained the problem but I’m worried they won’t come back and we always need to keep the blood bank up to date,” says Sahar Abu Sido, who has been working at the Gaza Central Blood Bank Society since 1984.

The blood bank plays a critical role in providing major Gaza hospitals with blood during emergencies. Proper equipment and a steady supply of blood are essential. “When the blood bank lacks certain items, that’s an emergency in itself,” said Sahar.

Gaza relief: Delivery of blood bags to Central Blood Bank Society.

Recognizing the urgent needs of the Central Blood Bank Society, ANERA responded with blood bags immediately!

The lack of enough blood bags on hand for donations is one such emergency. “In the past two months, we had to cancel our blood donations and call off all of our public blood collection campaigns because we didn’t have enough bags,” she added.

As the holy month of Ramadan nears, health workers are concerned about the reduced number of blood donations and the lack of blood bags. “While people fast during Ramadan, blood donations usually decrease. So the pressure increases to collect blood units, taking into account that these units have to be tested and checked to ensure they’re free from infections,” Sahar Abu Sida explains

Urgent Delivery of Blood Bags Arrive

Sahar smiles with relief when ANERA delivers the first set of emergency blood bags.

Sahar smiles with relief when ANERA delivers the first set of emergency blood bags.

Recently, ANERA was able to provide the blood bank with equipment, furniture and a new 66KVA generator, a reliable power source to sustain its operations thanks to ANERA’s donors committed to Gaza relief.

The blood bank asked for help and ANERA’s in-kind medical relief team responded quickly to get 8,700 blood bags brought in from the West Bank. Sahar sighed with relief when she saw the first 520 blood bags arrive.

Thanks to ANERA’s help, the Gaza Central Blood Bank Society has blood bags available to cover their needs for one month until the rest of ANERA’s next planned shipment arrives. Once in Gaza, the blood bank says the supply should support its needs for a year.

Sahar is relieved that a crisis has been avoided…for now. “The day we received the first shipment of blood bags, we immediately reactivated our blood collection campaign and collected 92 blood units in one day.”

For Sahar, making sure there is a supply of blood available for Gaza emergencies is a lifetime commitment. “Nothing gives me more satisfaction than knowing that we have blood available to respond for an emergency to help in someone in a life-threatening situation. No words can describe that moment when we can say ‘yes’ the blood you need is on the way.”

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Nineteen-year-old Ali Jibril loves basketball. You can often find him on the court practicing his skills with his teammates. In addition to their love of the game, the group has another thing in common: they all have physical disabilities that inhibit walking.

Ali was in a car accident in 2013 that caused severe bruising and fractures to the lower part of his body. Hindered by many years of blockade, communities in Gaza struggle to meet the medical needs of the physically handicapped. People like Ali, who need rehabilitation and support in dealing with physical disabilities, have few places to turn for medicine and treatment.

“I thought my life had ended at this point,” says Ali. Fortunately, he was able to find help at the Society for the Physically Handicapped, a long-time ANERA partner in Gaza. Ali is a recipient of vitamins, painkillers and antibiotics, which are all donated to the Society through ANERA’s robust in-kind medical relief program.

Medical aid to Gaza clinic frees resources for therapy games, like basketball.

Ali and his teammate practice on the court. Basketball is also part of his their physical therapy.

Supporting Palestinian Clinics through Medical Aid to Gaza

Ali, playing basketball, says he is still "young and full of dreams."

“I am still young and full of dreams,” Ali says.

The program for medical aid to Gaza enables Gaza hospitals and clinics to better care for their patients in the long term. When they don’t have to worry about the prohibitive costs of much-needed medicines, partners like the Society for the Physically Handicapped can spend their limited resources on equipment, therapy and other treatments.

At the Society, Ali discovered a talent for basketball and has regained hope for the future. “When I started my therapy classes at the society, things changed,” he explains. “I am still young and full of dreams.”

He’s embracing the opportunities available to him. “I love games, and I recently took part in the national basketball contest,” he smiles.

“Being disabled is not a choice I made, but I do have the choice to find a way to enjoy life.” 

Medical aid to Gaza clinics helps Palestinians dealing with circumstances beyond their control find a way to live their lives in health and dignity. 

Physically disabled teens renew hope thanks in part to medical aid to Gaza.

At ANERA’s recent Gaza teacher training, 34 teachers at five preschools across Gaza took part in an early childhood development (ECD) training on child rights and developmental psychology.

An integrated and holistic approach to ECD includes using expressive arts and play to engage children in learning and help them maintain a positive outlook. This is vital for children who often undergo trauma at a very early age due to occupation, siege, poverty, and periods of bombing and violence.

Health & Happiness in Developmental Years

According to the World Health Organization, many challenges faced by adults – such as mental health issues, obesity, heart diseases, and poor literacy and numeracy – can be linked back to early childhood. Children in their earliest years, from birth to age six, are in the most important developmental span of their lives. Yet, early childhood development is underfunded and often ignored in places like Gaza. Limited resources are often diverted to post-kindergarten education.

In a Gaza teacher training session organized by ANERA, teachers learn to incorporate expressive arts into an organized and comprehensive curriculum. In doing so, they have the chance to act like kids again, painting pictures, creating crafts from leaves and twigs, and molding clay to create dioramas. These photographs from the session show just how much fun they had!

Thank you to our donors and to Islamic Relief USA for supporting this program.

Gaza teacher training session, April 2016.
A teacher has fun molding clay by hand, something her children will do in class art sessions.
Gaza teachers make a sign for the classroom.
Teachers create fun dioramas using colorful clay.
A Gaza teacher pays close attention to the shapes and textures of leaves, which will be used for craft activities.
Gaza teacher training workshop focuses on healthy foods.
A cat wanders onto the Gaza teacher training session.

Preschool teachers in Gaza learn to incorporate expressive arts and healthy foods into preschool curriculum in an in-service workshop.

A teacher has fun molding clay by hand, something her children will do in class art sessions.

Teachers paint a sign to use in the classroom. The colorful pictures will help engage students in the lesson.

Outside, teachers use plants and paints to engage in hands-on learning practices.

Teachers create fun dioramas using colorful clay.

A teacher uses a magnifying glass to study the shapes and textures of leaves.

Healthy, fresh, and colorful fruits and vegetables help combat malnutrition in young children.

A cat wanders onto the teacher training session and a teacher offers him a healthy snack.

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The name Qalqiliya may have originated from the Roman name of the city ‘Calecaicea’ or ‘Calcelie,’ which is derived from the Kanaanite word for rounded stones or hills.

The city of Qalqiliya is the center of the governorate, yet is entirely surrounded by the Israeli separation wall, except for an Israeli-controlled passage to the east and a tunnel that connects it to the neighboring village of Habla.

With many illegal Israeli settlements surrounding the city and encroaching on nearby farmlands and small villages, the governorate has suffered various hardships, including huge land and water confiscations through the years. As agriculture is considered the backbone of this rich rural area, many farmers are forced to leave to other districts in search for work.

Fortunately, ANERA has been able to contribute to the economic development of the area by addressing some pressings needs:

  • More cultivated land with higher productivity and quality of produce.
  • New water connections and sewage networks.
  • New educational classrooms, rehabilitation work, and bigger schools with more facilities and services.
  • Public facilities that serve and empower the most marginalized and neglected groups, namely women and children.
Qalqiliya villages map

ANERA has completed projects or has ongoing sustainable development work in all 24 of these towns.

Boosting Agriculture in Qalqiliya District

During the 1980s and early 1990s, ANERA invested in the agricultural development of the district of Qalqiliya, among many others across the West Bank. With eight brand-new, modern tractors and 38 other pieces of agricultural machinery divided between the Qalqiliya Agricultural Market Cooperative and another farming cooperative in the village of ‘Azzun, hundreds of small-scale farmers were able to utilize their family lands efficiently and easily. Moreover, 265 member farmers were able to rent the machinery at lower prices, encouraging them to reclaim their lands and enhance their production.

Land owners and sharecroppers were not the only beneficiaries, as the project ultimately opened up job opportunities for tractor drivers, workers, agricultural engineers and many others.

A farmer works in a Qalqiliya greenhouse provided under ANERA's agriculture program.

A farmer works in a Qalqiliya greenhouse provided under ANERA’s agriculture program.

During that same period, ANERA assisted the Qalqiliya Agricultural Marketing Cooperative with a $30,000 grant for establishing a new electronic scale with a capacity of four tons for weighing trucks. The weighed trucks used to load fruits and vegetables between Amman and the West Bank markets. This project helped strengthen the efficiency and marketing scope for involved farmers.

ANERA’s microfinance credit program complemented its agricultural work in the region by reaching out to even more small entrepreneur farmers or those who wished to reclaim their own small-scale lands. This was implemented through main farming cooperatives across five districts.


The Jinsafut thyme project helped farmers increase productivity at lower costs.

Only a few years back, around 30 farmers in Jinasfut received local thyme seedlings, an efficient irrigation system and a new cistern for rainwater harvesting, as supplementary irrigation. Through this project, ANERA attempted to increase the productivity of the farmers at lower costs and ultimately help them earn a better income.

Improving Water Access

In 2004, ANERA installed a total of 3,300 linear meters of pipelines in Ras at Tira and adjacent Ad Dab’a, providing a reliable and clean source of drinking water to the residents of these villages at affordable costs. Before the intervention, the villagers relied on tankered water that was expensive and prone to contamination.

“Before ANERA’s help,” says beneficiary Afaf from Ad Dab’a. “We used to buy water in tins, which was extremely costly, or draw water in buckets from neighbors who were lucky to have cisterns. But now, we finally have water taps for washing and drinking and we have even built a new toilet and shower. We also have a washing machine!”

In more recent years, ANERA delivered different water projects in Palestine at seven different locations in the district of Qalqiliya, connecting more households to running water and enhancing the efficiency of sewage collection systems.

A new reservoir constructed in Jinsafut stores water for the community.

A new reservoir constructed in Jinsafut stores water for the community.

New water networks and extended water networks were installed, and four elevated reservoirs were constructed in ‘Isla, Khirbet Sir, Jit, Kafr Thulth, Jinsafut, Baqat al Hatab, Hajja and Falamya. Work included the installation of new booster pumps, chlorination units, pipelines and one balance tank.

These projects either successfully replaced inefficient and dilapidated networks that contributed to significantly high levels of water loss and contamination, or connected entire villages or certain areas that had no network to begin with. Most inhabitants of these villages depended on expensive purchased water to cover their families’ needs.

In addition, ANERA built a rainwater drainage system in ‘Azzun, and built rainwater collection cisterns, serving 15 impoverished households in Immatin.

In the village of Habla that has a population of 7,000 people, ANERA intervened in two ways. Its first intervention included the addition of 3,770 linear meters of pipes to an existing water network, thus serving a bigger population and newly inhabited areas. Its second intervention was completed only recently, installing a secondary sewage collection network and house connections, in addition to laying 4,000 linear meters of sewer pipelines in areas that were not connected to the existing network. The project has served an additional 400 households.

Education for Qalqiliya Youth

Since 2003, and over a period of 13 years, ANERA has been investing in the development of the Palestine education sector in the district of Qalqiliya by adding new classrooms, rehabilitating existing buildings and training preschool teachers.

In total, ANERA added 24 classrooms, four multipurpose halls, two newly-constructed toilet facilities and a school canteen, in addition to connecting staircases and corridors, drinking fountains, retaining walls, sunshades, playground benches and storage spaces.

Iman in the new computer lab at Kufr Thulth, a West Bank secondary school for girls. She wants to become a computer engineer.

Iman in the new computer lab at Kufr Thulth.

The projects were delivered in 11 different schools in the villages of Sinniriya, Izbat al Ashqar/Al Mudawwar, Izbat Salman, An Nabi Elyas, ‘Azzun, Ar Ras, Kafr Thulth, Beit Amin and Habla.

In recognition of the Kafr Thulth Secondary Girls School’s achievements, ANERA furnished the newly-constructed computer lab with 17 state-of-the-art personal computers to the school, including two printers, an LCD projector with its own white screen, networking equipment, infrastructure and cabling, and a two-year ADSL Internet subscription.

“This has surpassed our expectations. We were simply neglected and now we have all the essentials we need.” said the headmistress Ayda Mwafi.

Under its Early Childhood Development (ECD) program, ANERA was able to rehabilitate and furnish two dilapidated preschools in Kafr Qaddoum and Far’ata. The project included, infrastructure work, new toilet facilities and fixtures, as well as child-friendly furnishings, carpeting and curtains. The preschools’ playgrounds were also renovated and brand new toys added.

Under ANERA's early childhood development program, this preschool in 'Izbat al Ashqar/Al Mudawwar was completely rehabilitated.

Under ANERA’s early childhood development program, this preschool in ‘Izbat al Ashqar/Al Mudawwar was completely rehabilitated.

Reading and play corners were also established, and a large collection of educational toys and books filled the empty shelves. Preschoolers were also provided with ANERA’s Hayya Naqra’ (Let’s Read!) readings bags that included reading and coloring books and a leaflet addressing the children’s parents, in an attempt to engage the parents in their children’s development, and establish good reading habits among the young children.

The program also trained four preschool teachers from the same preschools, including two teachers from Ad Dab’a on active learning and fundamentals of early childhood care and education, including child development, child rights, learning theories, safety, classroom organization, expressive arts, play and much more.

Community Empowerment in Qalqiliya

2004 was an exciting year for the women and youth of rural Qalqiliya, as ANERA delivered three much-needed public projects to benefit the development of different communities.

The first and only community center in Jayyous built by ANERA empowers over 400 youth and women alike. The two-floor building comprises a sports club with sport activity halls, and houses the Women Saving and Credit Association for micro-financing, in addition to a surrounding garden that also serves center’s mission.

Jayyus, Qalqiliya governorate community center

A Palestinian teenager plays table tennis at the new community center in Jayyus in 2009.

“Financial independence helps women break free from subordination. And, it encourages them to exercise their rights and become decision makers,” says Nahed Jaber, who has been involved with the Women Saving and Credit Association for five years, first as a participant and now as the society’s treasurer.

In ‘Azzun, an additional floor was dedicated to empowering the women of the village. The added floor also houses the Women Saving and Credit Association, promoting self-development and independence among women in rural areas. The floor is also utilized as a training space for all the women of the village, where they gather to attain new knowledge and participate in various activities.

A new 0.65 km road was also built to connect the villages of Ras ‘Atiya and Habla, away from the main road for an easier commute, and facilitate access to agricultural land. Other villages like ‘Azzun and Kafr Thulth also received new roads that serve their entire communities.

Children in Gaza preschool get new reading bags.

Children in Gaza Discover Magic of Reading

April 15th, 2016 by ANERA

Children intuitively love listening to stories. Storytelling can play a critical role in developing a child’s personality. “Storytelling connects children in Gaza to their culture and their heritage and serves as an escape from the stress and strain of their surrounding reality,” says trainer Tahani Daloul. “Books are their building blocks for a better future.”

Helping Children in Gaza Read and Express Themselves

Tahani says storytelling can fuel a child’s imagination and a love of learning and also expand understanding of the world. Her ultimate goal, she explains, is to change the traditional methods of education and energize teachers to offer more varied strategies for reading.

With funding from Islamic Relief USA, ANERA has bolstered reading programs in five preschools in Gaza, through renovations, equipping classrooms with child-appropriate furnishing and learning materials as well as training teachers in creative teaching techniques. The schools are located in Khan Younis, Deir El Balah, Jabalia and Rafah.

At the Ghassan Kanafani preschool in Jabalia, children gather around their teacher, eagerly listening to a story about a farmer and a carrot.

Children in Gaza dress up as characters in story

Children dress up as the characters in a story about a farmer and a carrot.

“The story underlines the importance of participation, cooperation and teamwork. How the animals of the farm were united to help the farmer in pulling out the cord to remove the orange carrot stuck into the ground. Otherwise, the farmer would not be able to take it out by himself. How the team efforts is important and needed to access goals. After telling the story, the children dressed up with the costumes of the farm’s animals and performed a short play about the farm.”

“By telling stories with a meaningful message, you can talk to youngsters about basic values like courage and honesty,” says preschool teacher Zaynab El Jamal.

Reading is Crucial to Development

Zaynab, a preschool teachers, reads to children in Gaza.

Preschool teacher Zaynab reads to her students.

Using techniques she learned from ANERA trainers, Zaynab varied her narration, using puppets and acting out parts of the story. She already notices a difference in one student’s behavior because of the more animated storytelling style. Mohammed’s mother used to complain that he never paid attention, didn’t drink his milk and didn’t listen to her. Zaynab says she reads stories to the whole class to encourage Mohammed and his classmates to talk and listen. “We talk about pictures in the story that are familiar to them and it’s a great chance for them to open up about their feelings.”

The mother has reported a significant change in her son’s behavior. She also noticed his vocabulary is expanding.

“Reading out stories is also a great way to teach children new words and pronunciation,” says teacher Zaynab.

Zaynab says developing a reading routine in the classroom and distributing books to children fosters more reading at home too. “It’s a magical tool that can give children a lifelong love of learning.”

Children in Gaza learn to love reading.

Teacher Zaynab, young Mohammed, and the class at Ghassan Kanafani are excited about their new reading materials and classroom renovations.

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