Nahr El Bared (or “Cold River” in Arabic) is a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. It is named for the river that runs south of the camp. Located about 10 miles northeast of the ancient city of Tripoli, Nahr El Bared is home to nearly 30,000 Palestinian refugees, including about 1,200 Palestinian refugees from Syria.

Nahr El Bared was established in 1949 to accommodate Palestinian refugees struggling to cope with harsh winter conditions in the Bekaa Valley. Despite its proximity to water and beautiful location, the inhabitants of this camp have faced many challenges over the years due to armed clashes, the destruction of the camp, and the subsequent displacement of its inhabitants, as well as a lack of medical facilities, educational institutions, job opportunities and proper infrastructure.

ANERA first extended its services to Nahr El Bared in 2007 following clashes that erupted between armed groups and the Lebanese Army, displacing 27,000 Palestinian residents to neighboring camps and villages.

Nahr El Bared Palestinian Refugee Camp map


Rebuilding Nahr El Bared

In the aftermath of the destructive conflict in 2007, ANERA’s intervention in Nahr El Bared helped locals recover by reconstructing, rehabilitating and furnishing community centers, clinics and public spaces.

In partnership with local organizations, ANERA rebuilt two vocational training and community centers: Beit Atfal Assummoud and the National Association for Vocational Training and Social Services (NAVTSS). To this day, these centers provide opportunities for hundreds of youths to learn important career and life skills. ANERA also built the Mazen Afifi public park, so that children in Nahr El Bared would have a safe place to play. And finally, through our medical relief program, ANERA re-equipped and stocked the camp’s main pharmacy.

Palestinian Refugee Camp Before and After Photos

The ANERA-renovated Beit Atfal Assomoud center in the Nahr Al Bared refugee camp.

In addition to rehabilitation projects, ANERA installed 200 water tanks on apartment buildings that ensured thousands of people had a safe, dependable source of water in their homes. ANERA worked with a home for the elderly to create a community garden at their facility and to plant gardens on the rooftops of refugee apartment buildings. The project provided training in urban agriculture and irrigation techniques. Vegetables, herbs and even fruit trees provide camp residents with food security and means to earn an income by selling their produce.

Opening Doors through Education

ANERA has worked with local and international organizations to establish educational programs in Nahr El Bared, helping to restore some normalcy in the lives of refugee youth.

education palestinian refugee camp lebanon

ANERA education programs in Lebanon camps help youth expand their academic and economic opportunities

In collaboration with Reach out to Asia (ROTA), ANERA designed a non-formal educational program to support vocational training for young men and women, as well as remedial education for children of all ages. Over the span of four years, about 300 students completed vocational training courses and some six hundred received remedial education. Additionally, ANERA organized capacity-building sessions to train teachers and community activists so that the program could be continued for years to come.

Individuals pursuing vocational training take classes in subjects like plumbing, pastry making, and mobile phone maintenance. These specialties help graduates secure jobs and provide for themselves and their families. Recently, a young graduate of the culinary class in Nahr El Bared became a successful pastry chef!

In November 2014, ANERA partnered with UNICEF on a project for youth between the ages of 14 and 18 affected by the Syrian crisis. The project is reaching hundreds of youth, both Palestinian and Syrian, in Nahr El Bared. The program offers transferable skills courses in subjects like English, Arabic and math and skills-based training courses in topics like first aid, photography, and embroidery. The aim is to help youth rejoin the formal education system and/or provide them with skills to make them more employable as they enter the job market.

Meet Mohammad, A Vocational Training Student at Beit Atfal Assummoud

Bringing Youth Together through Sports

Since 2007, ANERA has partnered with all the sports clubs in Nahr El Bared to help empower youth through sports practices, activities, tournaments and “open day” events.

Playground in Nahr El Bared, Lebanon

The playground in Nahr El Bared provides a safe place for kids to play.

After the 2007 war, ANERA turned an unused, garbage-strewn lot into a safe play area. Today, the lot is clean and contains a playground and soccer field. ANERA has offered sports coaching to hundred of youth, distributed thousands of team uniforms, and organized dozens of tournaments and sports related activities. In addition to bridging divides between youth of different backgrounds, the sports program provides a sense of accomplishment and respite from chaos in this camp, where living conditions became frustrating for young boys and girls.

Abdel Raheem Ali Jumaa was 13 when he joined a soccer club partnering with ANERA. He explained how sports contributed to his self-development and well-being: Each time I feel sad, bored or stressed out, I go to play soccer — I feel calmer. Soccer taught me to hold myself together, become calmer and less stressed…It taught me respect and teamwork.” Read more about Abdel Jumaa >>

Investing in Health for Nahr El Bared Residents

Nahr El Bared Refugee Camp Creative Health

The Creative Health Campaign reached out to refugees of all ages to promote health education and awareness.

ANERA has delivered millions of dollars worth of medicines and healthcare supplies to clinics, hospitals and dispensaries in Nahr El Bared Camp. Notably, ANERA delivers thousands of medicines to Al Shifa clinic, which provides vital health services to over 1,200 people daily.

Through its creative health campaigns, ANERA reaches out to Palestinian youth in Nahr El Bared Camp, tackling youth-related health topics such as hygiene, water, sanitation, reproductive health and steroids. These sessions are accompanied with distribution of hygiene kits and health manuals.

Mohammad Taha, a full time engineering student and a part time volunteer in several social initiatives in Nahr El Bared joined ANERA’s health campaign by participating in building a team of Health Champions to combat steroid abuse. “Nowadays more people are aware of steroid addiction and know that it has severe health consequences and can lead to death.” Mohammad says. “Just having people break the taboo and start talking about it is a success.”

A week of fighting between militant factions devastated parts of Ein El Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon. The narrow streets of the camp are full of spent bullets, broken glass and garbage. Checkpoints have been enclosed in mesh for protection.

Yet, there are flickers of hope and desire for change among young refugee girls in Lebanon, thanks in part to a joint program organized by ANERA and its partner, Women’s Program Center. More than 25 young girls in Ein El Hilweh have joined the embroidery training sessions to learn new skills that also serve them well at home.  

Now, after some creative coordination between ANERA and its partners, each girl in the class has been given her own personal towels to embroider and take home.

refugees in lebanon take vocational training class in embroidery

Personalizing their towels gives the girls a sense of personal ownership and accomplishment.

Refugee Girls Give their Hygiene Kits a Personal Touch

“We delivered around 1,000 hygiene kits to youth in Ein El Helweh during hygiene promotion sessions, thanks to a generous donation from Lutheran World Relief (LWR),” explains explains Dima Zayat, head of ANERA’s health department. The kits included two towels, soap, nail clippers, toothpaste, a tooth brush and a hair brush.

Refugees in Lebanon embroider towels.

Hiba says embroidery is part of her Palestinian heritage, and she wants to preserve it.

Almaza Al Chaaraoui, head of Women’s Program Center in Ein El Helweh camp, says the hygiene kits are a welcome gift for the young girls. “During ANERA’s hygiene promotion sessions at our center, we noticed that many young girls don’t have access to personal hygiene items and share towels with their family members.” Almaza worries that it will expose them to infections and viral diseases. “We came up with the idea of embroidering the towels in the hygiene kits so the girls could personalize their towels and learn a new skill at the same time.”

Hiba Zaidan couldn’t believe how lovely the decorated towels turned out. The 16-year-old Palestinian girl held her hygiene kit in one hand and needles and pins in the other. “Embroidery is part of our heritage and I believe we have a duty to preserve it,” she smiles with pride. “Having a personal towel with a Palestinian pattern is a constant reminder of who I am and where I come from.”

ANERA continues to support its local partners and their creative ideas.  “We always adopt holistic methods and approaches in our programs,” explains Dima. “The idea of embroidering towels is the result of good coordination between ANERA’s health and education departments and our local partners.”

Towels embroidered by female refugees in Lebanon

As sun streams in through the window, bouncing off the colorful walls of a brand new classroom, a group of children clap joyfully along to nursery rhymes. This is the scene upon entering Al Rahma Preschool in Jabalia, a town just north of Gaza City.

After an animated sing-a-long, the band of little ones leaves the music center: it’s time for art. First, they gather around a long sheet of white paper draped across the floor. Their teacher helps them mix paints so they have a vast array of colors to work with. Each child takes up a brush and contributes to the mural. Then they sit in colorful, child-sized chairs around circular tables. They use items like dried pasta and leaves to creatively craft their next masterpiece.

Finally, the children walk contentedly to the greenery, where they end the day with well-deserved rest.

“We support our children in discovering and learning in the outside world,” says teacher Shadiya Saqer. “Children develop when they build experiences, which include using their five senses— hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch.”

To strengthen her classes’ experiences outside the classroom, Shadiya embraces learning about the five senses in her daily interactions with the children. “I encourage them to use their five senses by smelling the flowers, listening to cars, tasting a yummy cake, or feeling the texture of leaves in their hands.”

Gaza children discover their world through their five senses.

Children are encouraged to listen, smell, look, taste and touch to discover their world.

Gaza Teacher Training Emphasizes Sensory Development

Shadiya developed her knowledge of these methodologies and activities through ANERA’s teacher training course along with 30 other Gaza preschool teachers. Their trainer, Suad Lubad, emphasized that engaging the five senses is an integral part of a holistic and integrated approach to early childhood development. This approach is based on child rights, the developmental psychology of children, and active learning through carefully designed activities that allow children to express themselves.

ANERA’s teacher training program emphasizes interactive learning and sensory development.

“We communicated to all participants how pivotal it is to arrange the preschools into activity centers through which children can learn through play and trial and error. They should do experiments and discover the meanings of things around them at home, at preschool, in their community and in nature,” Suad says.

Gaza children paint a mural.

Activities like painting help with emotional and cognitive growth, as well as motor skills.

Children need to use their five senses to learn and discover because, unlike adults, they don’t yet have experiences to recount. Suad gives an example:

“When we tell a child what ‘vanilla’ is, he may memorize what we tell him, but he will not truly understand. He will probably forget. However, if we bring vanilla to the science activity center and ask him to smell it, taste it, touch it and see it, we’re activating his senses. How could he ever forget what ‘vanilla’ means after that?”

School Renovation Inspires Active Learning among Children in Gaza

The children at Al Rahma Preschool are now inspired to learn and explore in their stimulating classrooms and play areas, but this wasn’t always the case. Before ANERA rehabilitated the preschool, it was a gray and dingy space.

“The preschool lacked so many essentials; the backyard was dirty, the worn out sunroof dripped water during the winter, and conditions were unhealthy and unsafe for the children,” explains Marwan Tobail, the head of Al Rahma preschool. He adds, “The classrooms were dark and had plastic ceilings, which made life miserable for all of us.”

Life at the preschool changed when ANERA chose this school for renovation as part of an ongoing early childhood development program in Palestine. ANERA built a new classroom, painted all the rooms in child-friendly colors, fixed the old bathrooms, placed tiles in the outdoor play areas, and installed a new sunroof over the playground to protect the children from the scorching sun. To the kids’ delight, new playground equipment was also provided.

New playground equipment is safe and exciting for the Gaza children.

New playground equipment is safe and fun for children to use during their outdoor break.

Marwan says the colors are a crucial component of a child’s development of emotions. They also help with classroom productivity and communication. The new preschool is an environment conducive to learning and development. As for the children, they’re excited to learn the names of the new colors and discover all their new learning materials, like books and paints.

Marwan smiles while describing the changes. “We want to give children in Gaza a healthy beginning at a very young age, because healthy children mean a healthy community and a healthy future.”

View More Photos of Al Rahma Preschool

Al Rahma Classroom AFTER
Gaza children enjoy the outside renovation of their preschool
Gaza children reading in class
Gaza girl drinks water from faucet at preschool
Gaza children writing chalkboard
Gaza children at Al Rahma preschool play with parachute
Gaza children play with parachute, girl in pigtails looks on.

The bright new classroom features child-sized furniture designed just for ANERA preschools.

The exterior of the preschool received a stunning restoration, too!

It's story time! An Arabic language version of Sesame Street captures the kids' attention.

The new water fountains are important to the hygiene, safety and health of the preschoolers.

Teacher Shadiya Saqer puts great effort into engaging her young students.

The large, colorful parachute is a favorite toy among the children at Al Rahma.

By providing children with a healthy and fun environment for learning, Gaza preschools are setting children up for a brighter future.

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Villages West of Ramallah

ANERA in the Villages West of Ramallah

September 30th, 2015 by ANERA

The areas just west of Ramallah in the West Bank are filled with fertile agricultural lands and dotted with small Palestinian villages. Farming has been a way of life for thousands of years on these lands.

Most of these villages in more recent years have had part of their lands annexed for the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements and the separation wall. Precious water resources are now being shared with settlements and Palestinian farmers struggle to get access to their lands, because of the wall and checkpoints.

Palestinian villagers and landowners have turned to education and making best use of the agricultural lands they can access to preserve their livelihoods and culture. ANERA has always been there to support them and help them along the way throughout the years.

Driving around those villages just west of Ramallah, it’s hard to miss the prominent presence of ANERA. There are signs and plaques of ANERA projects everywhere, from reservoirs and water networks to roads and schools.

Ramallah Villages MAP

ANERA has implemented projects in all 17 of these villages west of Ramallah.

Improving the Productivity of Palestinian Farms

Some of ANERA’s earliest projects were agricultural and centered in this region.

Farm mechanization and agricultural loan programs were the mainstay of ANERA’s agriculture work in the early years. The village cooperative of Deir Nidham, for example, was provided with tractors and other heavy farm implements that all 55 cooperative members and their families could use to work their lands. ANERA also helped the Ramallah Agricultural Market Cooperative to buy a bulldozer so farmers could clear their rocky land, level the ground and deep-plough in preparation for cultivation.

Agriculture Roads Deir Abu Mash'al

Thanks to the construction of agricultural roads in Deir Abu Mash’al, farmer Abu-Malek (right) can now easily access his land, allowing him to take better care of it and plant more crops.

ANERA provided the funds in the 1990s to establish a loan program for the Ramallah Agricultural Market Cooperative. With $300,000 in capital from ANERA, the program gave member farmers access to funds for making improvements to their farms. The cooperative still thrives today and serves the entire district of Ramallah, with hundreds of member farmers from all 94 Ramallah-area villages.

More recently, ANERA constructed 12 miles of new agriculture roads connecting the villages of Ni’lin, Budrus, Deir Abu Mash’al, Al Midya and Beitillu to their agricultural fields and to markets where farmers could sell their produce. Villagers also had the additional benefit of better access to health and educational services. The roads have revived the villagers’ social life. Now they can enjoy family picnics and barbecues, giving them a means of escape briefly from life’s problems.

In Midya, ANERA built terraces on hillsides to prevent soil erosion, preserve moisture and improve productivity of the land. These too are regular features of ANERA agriculture programs.

Community Access to Water

Water scarcity is a problem throughout the arid West Bank, for urban and agricultural communities alike. Improving water access has been at the heart of ANERA’s program work for four decades and many of the Ramallah villages have benefited from ANERA’s interventions.

During the 1990s, ANERA invested in Ein Arik, which is famous for its water springs. By rehabilitating springs, building collection ponds and introducing an efficient and modern drip-irrigation network, ANERA was able to eliminate water losses and increase land production for farmers. In Midya, in 2005, ANERA dug cisterns near farms for collecting rainwater to irrigate parched crops.

Bilin Water Reservoir

The Bil’in water reservoir provides clean water to the village’s 2,200 residents.

In 2010, ANERA replaced a 26-year-old water network in Beit ‘Ur al Fauqa. The old network was installed by the villagers themselves, with no consideration for engineering standards, and left without any maintenance whatsoever. They were experiencing water losses of 45%. ANERA replaced the entire network, serving the entire village’s population of 850.

In 2013, ANERA constructed a 132,086-gallon water reservoir in Deir Qaddis. The reservoir complements the village’s previously rehabilitated drinking water network by doubling the storage space for potable water – a much-needed improvement for hot summer days.

More recently, ANERA has extended its aid to the village of Bil’in to construct a water reservoir and network that benefit 2,200 residents. By replacing the rusty and deteriorated 30-year-old water network, ANERA put an end to high water losses and contamination that gave rise to waterborne illnesses. Also in 2015, the village of Rantis with its 3,000 inhabitants received new water mains and a reservoir.

Aside from their direct impact on the communities, these projects provide good jobs in places where unemployment rates are high.

Women and Youth Empowerment

In the early 1990s, the Kafr Ni’ma Women’s Society benefited from an ANERA income-generation project that provided funds for embroidery and textile production and marketing activities. The fund helped provide women, some of whom were heads of households, with an income and some degree of financial independence and self-sufficiency.

In 2009, ANERA built the Beit Liqia Union Club for women and youth. Located in the heart of the town, the center is still going strong, offering social and educational opportunities and activities to the village’s 10,000 residents. Courses in agricultural best practices and series in new business incubation are a regular feature of their schedule. Sports teams also have space to practice.

Woman Entrepreneur Beit Liqia Ramallah Palestine

With the help of the Beit Liqia Union Club for women and youth, Jamalia is now a shop owner and successful home gardener.

Investing in Education

ANERA’s school infrastructure work is based on the premise that students everywhere deserve schools that are safe, clean and stimulating learning environments. Since 2010, ANERA has improved and expanded schools in six  villages west of Ramallah by building new structures and renovating existing buildings.

Al Lubban Construction Ramallah

Al Lubban school under construction in 2010.

Parents in the village of Saffa were delighted to learn that nine new classrooms were added to the primary girls’ school. And, in Beit ‘Ur al Fauqa, ANERA built a new primary school, comprised of five classrooms and an administration office.

ANERA also built a new preschool: two rooms added to a school in Beit Sira, designed and equipped just for the youngsters.

Al-Lubban al Gharbi had only one coeducational school, which was overcrowded had very poor facilities. That’s why ANERA stepped in and build a new school there in 2010. With three floors, 11 classrooms, a science and computer lab, arts room, administration room and playgrounds, the school is a great learning space for its 300 students.

Bil’in only had two schools – one for girls and one for boys. The boys’ school also served girls because of the girls’ school’s limited capacity. This meant the boys’ school was overcrowded, with up to 40 students in each classroom. In 2015, ANERA renovated the girls’ school and constructed an additional floor, adding 12 more rooms to to the school as well as installing a sunshade, rehabilitating the drinking fountain and upgrading the playground.

Girls at Bil'in School, Ramallah

Happy young students at the opening of the Bil’in Girls School.

Also in 2015, ANERA added two new floors to the elementary school in Deir Qaddis. The new space includes three classrooms, a science lab, a computer lab, a library and a multipurpose hall. ANERA also installed new toilets and renovated the playground as well as the existing school building.

Recreation in Western Ramallah

A colorful playground in West Bank village of Ras Karkar after its transformation from an empty rock-filled field.

A colorful playground in West Bank village of Ras Karkar after its transformation from an empty rock-filled field.

In 2012, three boys, aged 4-6, were playing in an unused storeroom near their homes in the village of Ras Karkar. When they didn’t come home, their parents started searching for them. Soon the entire village joined the search. After several hours the little boys were found suffocated inside an abandoned commercial refrigerator. The fridge had locked them in, its door refusing to budge. The tragedy shook the entire population of 1,500. Residents, as a result, demanded a safe public place for children to play safely.

ANERA responded in 2013 with a new family park, part of a series of parks with the name of “Al-Bayyara,” meaning citrus grove in Arabic. ANERA converted a vacant, rubble-filled land into a beautifully-landscaped safe haven for families to gather and children to play without fear. The park was dedicated to the three young boys: Muhammad, Omar and Mohammad, and their bereaved families.

“It was an emotional and humbling experience for us all,” explained Naser Qadous, ANERA’s manager in charge of the project.

ANERA’s work in the villages west of Ramallah has been made possible by the support of people like you. Help us continue our vital work in Palestine and Lebanon — make a donation to ANERA, today!


Once again, violence disrupted life in Ein El Hilweh camp in southern Lebanon. On August 24th, armed clashes erupted between rival armed groups in the Palestinian refugee camp after the assassination of a political leader. The fighting quickly spread and forced camp residents to flee their houses to safety outside the camp.

Ouyoun Shabayta, ANERA’s field coordinator in Ein El Hilweh lives in the camp. She says the sound of gunfire and rockets could be heard even outside Ein El Hilweh, adding, “I saw people running outside the camp with their clothes in plastic bags, holding their toddlers on their shoulders.”

Thousands of people sought refuge in nearby Saida, in the municipal building and neighboring mosques. “We are used to tensions in the camp, but this time the violence escalated fast and even people who never thought of going outside the camp ended up leaving,” says Ouyoun. “Only elderly people stayed and some young men who form civil committees to protect their neighborhoods from thugs.”  

Providing Relief for Displaced Families

A family from the camp, displaced from the fighting, rests during a moment of calm.

A family from the camp, displaced from the fighting, rests during a moment of calm.

The clashes went on for seven days, burning down parts of the camp, forcing educational facilities, community centers and many hospitals to close their doors. Several people died, hundreds were wounded and thousands displaced. But, Ouyoun decided to reopen ANERA’s office in the camp on the second day of the fighting to provide humanitarian relief. With help from some brave volunteers, ANERA distributed 650 hygiene kits donated by Lutheran World Relief to a mosque hosting displaced families outside the camp.

Hygiene Kits for Ein El Hilweh camp

ANERA staff and volunteers distributed hygiene kits to displaced families seeking shelter in a nearby mosque.

“In time of conflict, you cannot be quiet, you need to do something,” Ouyoun explains. “You need to serve your community.” When she and the volunteers got to the mosque, she continues, people started running toward them. “We took a step back and organized ourselves and then started an orderly distribution of the hygiene kits.”

Several non-profits were involved in the relief drive, distributing meals and food parcels. But Ouyoun says ANERA’s hygiene kits stood out. “People really appreciated the kits because they had fled the camp with nothing but some clothes. So, the supply of towels, soap, nail clippers, hair and tooth brushes and toothpaste served them well during their stay in the mosque.”

ANERA Re-opens Classes in Ein El Hilweh

After the clashes ended a week later, people gradually started returning home, trying to regain some normalcy in their lives. Community centers reopened their doors and ANERA resumed its regular program work.

Throughout the past year, ANERA has organized transferable skills courses and skills-based training for youth, aged between 14 and 18. The program, Quick Impact Skills Development for Adolescents Affected by the Syrian Refugee Crisis, is implemented in coordination with UNICEF, and generously funded by the German government.

“When we resumed our work in the camp, we went to each student’s house to tell their parents the program had started up again,” Says Ouyoun. “In just a few days our classes were full of students. No drop-outs and no absenteeism,” Ouyoun says with pride. “It’s the best vote of confidence for us and a signal that our program is working.”

Ein El Hilweh Remedial Education Class

A refugee student practices his Arabic in one of ANERA’s remedial education classes.