Five years after the passing of former ANERA president Dr. Peter Gubser, his daughters could not think of a better gift to honor the memory of their beloved father than a Palestinian school.

“The projects he worked on were very varied, but the ones that stood out to us were focused on education,” explained his daughter Sasha who lives in the United States. “He truly believed that education acts like a backbone to support a person’s potential.”

Sasha explained how so many friends and colleagues of her father had contributed to the special fund because they wanted to support his vision and what ANERA could do with it. “Our family was overwhelmed by the generosity of all those who loved and respected him and chose to donate.”

Gubser daughters at opening of Palestinian school in Al Tireh

Peter Gubser’s two daughters at the opening of the renovated Al Tireh school and training center.

Choosing a Palestinian School for the Project

After careful deliberation and research, ANERA’s Education Committee chose a project that would help both children and teachers: a rehabilitation project at UNRWA’s Refugee Women Training Center (RWTC) preschool at Al Tireh, Ramallah. RWTC is the first institution in the Middle East to offer teacher training and vocational courses for refugee women. It was established in the 1960s. The center is at the heart of Ramallah, the most prosperous city in the West Bank that many consider an intellectual, educational and cultural incubator.

Palestinian school children play on the new playground

Children love their new playground equipment at the Al Tireh school.

ANERA undertook the center’s rehabilitation as part of its Early Childhood Development (ECD) program’s initiative “Right Start!” The program is designed to develop ECD in the West Bank and Gaza through school rehabilitation and teacher training.

The Rehabilitation Begins

The preschool was centered around a spacious but poorly-ventilated room with inadequate sanitary facilities. The cluttered room was a noisy open area with no defined learning areas. What characterized it the most was a long row of tables and chairs where some 50 children gathered to practice drawing or enjoy their morning breakfast snack.

With $60,000 from the Peter Gubser fund, ANERA renovated the infrastructure work, installed new and sanitary child-friendly toilets and built a private room for the teachers as well as kitchen and two learning rooms. Then the ANERA team carpeted, decorated and equipped the school with child-appropriate furniture, games, books and learning materials. The balance between the soft-colored walls and furnishings and the inviting, stimulating games and learning corners, has created a healthy environment for children to nurture their imagination.

Palestinian school after renovation

Al Tireh preschool classroom with colorful walls and comfortable furnishings after ANERA’s renovation.

The head teacher-trainer has also undertaken a teacher training course with ANERA to guarantee the project’s long-term sustainability. “This program helps develop young children’s growing minds and also prepare young teachers for a changing world, it felt like a really good match to what was important to our father,” explained Peter Gubser’s second daughter Christie.

Celebration, Remembrance and a Trip to Palestine

Honoring Peter Gubser at Palestinian preschool opening

A plaque honoring Peter Gubser hangs on the wall of the renovated school.

Sasha and Christie Gubser were able to travel to Al Tireh to celebrated the successful rehabilitation. It was their first trip to the Middle East since childhood. And, it was their first trip to Palestine, which they both described as an emotional visit. Sasha told the audience gathered for the celebration, “It is very meaningful to both of us to be invited here today and to see something tangible to represent my father’s vision.”

After the ceremony, Sasha and Christie couldn’t wait to meet the children and joined a group that was busy playing with colorful building blocks. Both Christie and Sasha are young mothers whose youngest children are four years old. “They would be here at this school too. They are also in early childhood education,” said Christie with a smile. Christie is herself an elementary school teacher. Her sister Sasha is a doctor. Gathered in the rehabilitated outdoor playground, the Gubser sisters surprised the children with colored pencils and other gifts.

A plaque on the school’s wall honors Peter Gubser. “Our father would be thrilled to see this preschool rehabilitation completed,” expressed Sasha. “And seeing the plaque on the wall is the permanent reminder of his devotion to human rights and equality.”

Pa,estinian children practices arts and crafts with help from Gubser sisters.

The Gubser sisters help the Al Tireh preschoolers with their arts and crafts project.

Giving Tuesday Gaza

Palestine and Israel are much in the news these days. The violence and crackdowns can remind us how hard it is to feel hopeful in the face of settlement-building and occupation. It is important to know that there is some positive change.

We feature here four locations where donations from ANERA donors have helped residents who feel isolated and vulnerable.

A map showing the location of four towns in Palestine where settlements have made residents feel isolated and vulnerable.

Four towns in Palestine where settlements have made residents feel isolated and vulnerable.

This water reservoir serves all 2,200 residents of Bil'in, Palestine.

This water reservoir serves all 2,200 residents of Bil’in, Palestine.


Located next to one of the largest and fastest growing Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Bil’in has become a symbol of resistance as demonstrators have come out weekly for the past 10 years to protest the encroachment of Israel’s separation wall. In 2015, ANERA helped this town of 2,200 by building a water reservoir, restoring their water network, and adding 12 more rooms to the girls’ school.

Kifl Haris

This village is next to the Tomb of Joshua in an area surrounded by settlements. Ruboo’ Al Quds, the preschool we assist in the town with early childhood development, was selected in part because it is very close to the tomb and therefore quite vulnerable. In addition to renovating the interior of the school, ANERA erected high fencing along the perimeter to keep settlers from vandalizing the school, which they have done in the past.

Preschool children enjoy their ANERA-renovated preschool in Kifl Haris, Palestine.

Preschool children enjoy their ANERA-renovated preschool in Kifl Haris, Palestine.

medical donation bandages hebron clinic

Clinic in Hebron’s Old City.


A settlement in Hebron’s Old City has stifled the local Palestinian economy, with checkpoints that make getting in and out of the area very difficult. There is a charitable health clinic, located in the heart of the Old City, that gives impoverished people access to quality, affordable health care. ANERA regularly delivers medicines to the clinic, supplying up to 70% of their stock.


At one of the furthest points south in the West Bank, Imneizil is located right against the separation wall, next to a settlement. It is completely enveloped by the Israeli-administered Area C, where Palestinians cannot build anything. The town is very isolated, with few amenities. ANERA is installing a new water network, an elevated water tank and booster pump as well as street lights, so residents feel safer walking at night.

Help Palestine and Palestinian refugees

The white halls of the Saint Antonios Medical Center are lined with patients, young and old, waiting to see a doctor. A group of women patiently wait in the back of the clinic for their appointments with social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists. The medical center, in Jdiedeh in the northern suburbs of Beirut, provides health care to both Lebanese nationals and Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

The first patient of the morning is 32-year-old Waheeda. Waheeda has been living in Lebanon since 2012 when she fled the war in her hometown of Aleppo, Syria. She has endured several traumatic experiences, including the loss of both of her parents in the war, the death of her two sisters and a recent divorce. She suffers, like many Syrian refugees, from post traumatic stress disorder.

Waheeda spent most of her time alone, isolated, tearfully recalling her life in Syria and mourning the family she lost.

She is learning to deal with her trauma at Saint Antonios Medical Center. Before coming to the center, Waheeda spent most of her time alone, isolated, tearfully recalling her life in Syria and mourning the family she lost. “I used to fear dying. I wasn’t able to sleep in the dark. I had to keep the lights on to sleep,” Waheeda recalls.

Waheeda’s treatment includes a nightly dose of Risperdal. The medicine, along with Topamax, are two essential elements of psychiatric treatment that are now available at the center, thanks to the generous donation of AmeriCares. ANERA has delivered the vital medicines to more than 460 partner centers in Lebanon that are providing psychiatric treatment. Saint Antonios Medical Center has received enough to treat 45 patients free of charge.

Helping Refugees in Lebanon Regain Hope

Waheeda says the medication and treatment has helped her regain some of her vitality and emotional balance. “I have hope and want to live now,” she says. “My experience has been life changing.” Waheeda says she is able to overcome challenges she couldn’t handle before. “You might see these improvements as small steps but they are huge leaps in my life.”

Psychiatrist Dr. Nicole Haddad describes Waheeda’s condition as a common consequence of war. “We have many patients who suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress, and panic attacks because of the war,” she explains. The psychiatric unit at Saint Antonios was established over five years ago to serve the mental health needs of Iraqi refugees. It has since grown now to serve the growing community of Syrian refugees.

ANERA’s in-kind pharmacist, Lina Atat, describes the benefits of the donation. “It allows facilities like Saint Antonius to offer expensive psychiatric medicine free to those in need, especially Syrian refugees suffering from depression and trauma. ANERA is helping to relieve the burden of paying for prescription medication for those who need it most but cannot afford it.” The medical relief also helps the clinics. “Our partner centers now can reallocate part of their budgets to provide other necessary medicine and supplies,” Atat explains.

Waheeda admits she had to overcome the misconceptions and stereotypes related to psychological and psychiatric treatment in the refugee community, “I realize how important therapy is to me. It’s a medical treatment that helps people get better, just like taking medicine for a chronic illness.” She says with relief, “With the help of the doctors and the medication, I have a new will to live.”

When you donate to ANERA, you’re making vital work like this possible for refugees and poor communities in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. Give to change lives.

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The wholesale fruit and vegetable market in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, is bursting with fresh produce from local farms. Some boast it’s the best produce in Gaza. Farmers like Abu Riyad smile with pride and satisfaction with all they have accomplished.

Under ANERA’s land restoration project to revive Gaza agriculture, Abu Riyad has been able to restore his land and again grow vegetables to feed his family and earn some extra income by selling to the market traders.

ANERA’s program, which started in March 2015, already has helped more than 120 Gaza farmers restore farmland damaged in the war or that lay fallow because of the lack of resources to revitalize and replant it.

Abu Riyad lost all his crops in the 2014 war. Here he is planting his restored field in August and harvesting in October.

Khan Younis Farmers Sell Their Produce at the Local Market

Abu Riyad and his son rush to harvest their October crops. As soon as they finish, vendors arrive to load their vans and head to the city market. “It’s Wednesday and that’s what we call Farmers’ Market Day where we can sell our produce at fair prices,” he explains.

Harvesting peppers in Gaza

Abu Riyad and his son pick hundreds of peppers to sell at the Wednesday Farmers Market.

Inside the crowded market, fresh cucumbers, green peppers and chili peppers, eggplants and onions glisten in the morning sun, attracting the eye of wholesale food vendors in the early morning rush.

“We are so proud that we can feed our families fresh, natural food and that we can finally see our business bloom like our vegetables,” Abu Riyad says.

Amid the rhythmic sounds of farmers and traders bartering and selling, Abu Riyad explains the day’s routine. “The market is basically an open-air auction place where farmers negotiate with traders and sell their produce.” Then boxes stuffed with fresh vegetables are loaded onto trucks, donkey carts or pushcarts, bound for the town’s food shops.

Abu Riyad says it’s a win-win situation for everyone. “Thanks to the land restoration program, I now can grow fresh produce and sell our vegetables at a fair price to traders who then sell them to buyers at reasonable rates for consumers. Everyone is a winner.”

Giving Tuesday Gaza

Ein El Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp is the largest and most crowded camp in Lebanon. Situated just southeast of the city of Saida, Ein El Hilweh’s population has recently swelled to over 120,000, almost twice the number of refugees it housed before the Syrian war started in 2011.

With the influx of refugees from Syria, camp residents are now facing even more difficulties in day-to-day life, including crowded living conditions, unemployment and outbreaks of violence. Major problems the camp faces include

  • A high ratio of out-of-school youth
  • Small, overcrowded shelters
  • Poor living conditions
  • Limited employment opportunities

ANERA has been working to create better living conditions in Ein El Hilweh for eight years by supporting the rehabilitation of infrastructure and addressing health care and education issues.

Ein El Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp map

Better Buildings for Childhood Learning

ANERA recently renovated a camp preschool, providing a healthy environment for children to access quality education and inspiring them to learn. The center provides a safe and intellectually stimulating space for preschoolers to find normalcy in their lives, which are too often disrupted by violence and instability.

After ANERA's renovations, bright colors and fun toys adorn the rooms of this Lebanon preschool in Ein El Helweh camp.

After ANERA’s renovations, bright colors and fun toys adorn the rooms of this Lebanon preschool in Ein El Helweh camp.

The rehabilitation includes enhanced security features, freshly painted classrooms, child-size fixtures, an updated playground, and sealed roofs and windows. And the renovations go beyond construction: the school has been equipped with high-quality children’s books, toys, and furniture, ensuring a interactive and innovative learning environment.

Emergency Relief in Ein El Hilweh

Emergency response and humanitarian relief are paramount to ANERA operations in Ein El Hilweh because many families are unable to meet their most basic needs and conditions in the camp are often unstable. With the surge of refugees from Syria, many of whom are Palestinian and not allowed to work in many professions in Lebanon, conditions in the camp are deteriorating and opportunities to improve one’s economic situation are limited.

In 2013, ANERA was awarded a grant from UNOCHA to help refugee families prepare for the winter. ANERA selected 2,300 of the Palestinian refugee families from Syria who were most in need and an additional 450 host families who had generously shared their homes with new refugees. These families received kits containing winter blankets, quilts, heaters, rechargeable emergency flashlights, hygiene items and warm clothes. ANERA met the needs of female family members by providing gender-sensitive kits.

Another aspect of the program involved teaching families about various winter-related illnesses and emergency health issues common to the camp. ANERA worked with the Najdeh Association, a local partner, to train health workers to provide in-depth public health education, making the program more sustainable and impactful for years to come.

Ein El Hilweh refugee family relief

ANERA provided winter relief for this family living in a tent they built themselves out of plastic sheets and blankets.

ANERA continues to provide winterization support to Ein El Hilweh each year by delivering winter blankets, emergency lights and other necessities with the help of many community-based organizations and in-kind donations from our partners.

Education and Youth Development for Refugees

In response to low school enrollment rates and a high dropout rate among youth, ANERA has implemented a comprehensive youth development program in refugee camps throughout Lebanon. These projects aim to provide youth with transferable skills they need to re-enter the formal education system, obtain jobs in the workforce, or develop on a personal level.

Ein El Hilweh refugee youth education

Students in ANERA’s basic education classes work on their Arabic.

In partnership with UNICEF, ANERA has planned and executed remedial education courses and vocational training workshops designed to appeal to refugees who are interested in pursuing an education but are unable to attend school for various reasons. Many of them cannot afford tuition fees or must work to support their families. Others have disabilities that public schools can’t accommodate or have been out of school for many years due to the Syrian crisis and have fallen behind in their studies.

Programs like these allow students that have fallen through the cracks to step back into an educational community. Partnering with six local organizations in Ein El Hilweh, the project provides the following services to youth:

  • Basic Education: Courses in literacy (English & Arabic), mathematics, and computers.
  • Life skills: Short classes in civic engagement, conflict management, hygiene and health promotion, and leadership and employability training.
  • Vocational Skills: Workshops in photography, soap-making, job interviewing skills, basic first aid, cooking classes, customer service, office equipment use and more.
  • Sports for development: activities, thematic tournaments and events, physical rehabilitation of sports fields and facilities, and hygiene and recreation kits for youth.

To date, the program has supported more than 1,750 youth in Ein El Hilweh through the non-formal education and skills-based training courses. Holistic in nature and diverse in content, the program has achieved excellent student retention rates. The project is also proving successful at engaging Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese youth living in the camp, which is a significant feat due to the turmoil among various sects.

Health Education & Medical Relief in the Refugee Camp

ANERA’s holistic programming in the Ein El Hilweh camp integrates health education into both non-formal education courses and life skill classes. To implement the health awareness element, ANERA trains health tutors who know how to appropriate and effectively discuss personal hygiene, home hygiene, nutrition and other sensitive topics.

The interactive teaching methodology and hands-on class sessions provide safe spaces for student to contribute to discussions, bringing the topics to life. Students are also equipped with hygiene kits to further reinforce positive personal hygiene practices that lead to better overall health. Awareness sessions for the parents of younger children are sometimes help to make sure the community acknowledges the importance of child health education. Many parents have said that the hygiene kits and proper training have enabled their families to build healthier habits, even in the tough conditions in which they’re forced to live.

Hussein patient in Ein El Hilweh refugee camp

72-year-old Hussein was treated at Human Call for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. His medicines and breathing tube were prodvided by ANERA in 2011.

Providing medicines and medical supplies to camps and clinics in Ein El Hilweh is vital to ensuring the health and safety of refugees. For instance, ANERA equips Human Call Hospital — the only 24/7 emergency clinic in the camp — with about 30% of its medical supplies. Since the hospital treats 50-60 patients per day, the support of ANERA’s donor community positively affects thousands of patients.

Training Ein El Hilweh Youth in Sports and Life Skills

In Ein El Hilweh, sports programs give youth the opportunity to cultivate a passion and temporarily escape their difficult living conditions. They also offer an opportunity to teach teenagers key life skills, such as conflict mitigation and healthy lifestyle habits.

Refugee youth in Lebanon gather for sports day

Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese teens came together for a day of sports and bonding.

The innovative program has the capacity to reach thousands of children because ANERA trains coaches and community leaders to carry out the program. They develop relationships with players on and off the field, implementing disciplinary techniques, promoting hygiene and teaching the players to diplomatically resolve problems.

This year, ANERA held 11 technical sessions to train 26 coaches. Then, 22 sports clubs were were given equipment and uniforms for boys and girls. Games, open sports days, and practices are held regularly. ANERA staff takes careful measures to ensure that girls get to participate in the activities as well by providing female coaches and meeting with parents when necessary. In the latest tournament, 166 youth participated in the games.

Finally, ANERA is nearing the final phase of renovating a sports field in Ein El Hilweh, so the youth have a safe, inviting place to learn and play. When the renovation is complete, the Ein El Hilweh community will take ownership of their space through a Playfield Committee of elected officials charged with creating rules and regulations regarding usage, maintenance and sustainability.

Ein El Hilweh camp sports

Youth in Ein El Hilweh participated in a mini-marathon race under the slogan “Together we run.”