Top 17 Stories of 2017

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As we approach the new year, let’s take a look back at some of the top stories and blogs from 2017. These stories were chosen by you, our supporters, because of their popularity on social media.

17. Gaza Women Find Opportunity in Co-Op

Aya takes date cookies out of the co-op oven.

Aya takes date cookies out of the co-op oven.

“Easy come, easy go,” says 21-year-old Shorouq. “But in Gaza, nothing comes easy!” Young women were struggling with Gaza’s limited job market after graduating from university. Now they’ve joined an all-women co-op making pastries and other Palestinian delights to distribute to local shopkeepers. “It’s a win-win deal,” added Shorouq.

16. Refugee Kids Get New TOMS Shoes

Preschoolers in Beddawi Camp in Lebanon picks up brand new TOMS shoes.

Preschoolers in Beddawi Camp in Lebanon picks up brand new TOMS shoes.

This winter, Anera Lebanon staff delivered thousands of pairs of TOMS shoes to Palestinian and Syrian refugee children in Beddawi camp and in the informal tented settlements of Lebanon. The shoes were distributed through local partners Najdeh Association and Dar al Fatwa, and were enjoyed by preschoolers throughout!

15. Six Years On, Syrian Refugees Forge Futures

Syrian refugees, like this teen, are learning the skills to become farmers.

A Syrian teen learns about proper livestock care in the rural part of Lebanon where he is the sole breadwinner for his family.

As of the sixth anniversary of the Syrian uprising and the start of the devastating war, there were 4.9 million displaced Syrians within the country and scattered throughout the region. An estimated 1.5 million of them have taken refuge in neighboring Lebanon, where they are struggling to find a place in the economy amid rising poverty and unemployment rates. A group of Syrian youth are enhancing their skills through vocational courses tailored to the local job market.

14. Meet Moaz: Deaf Teen Makes Most of Updated Rehabilitation Center

Moaz is a popular teen at the Gaza rehabilitation center because of his optimism and perseverance.

Moaz is a popular teen on and off the soccer pitch because of his optimism and enthusiasm.

“When I finish school, I want to be a doctor and I hope one day to win a national soccer contest,” said Moaz. He’s a 15-year-old with meningitis, which has left him deaf. Now he’s pursuing his dreams at the new soccer field at his local Palestine Red Crescent Society in Gaza.

13. Climate Change, From Paris to Palestinian Refugee Camps

As part of the refugee camp recycling project, each household gets bins to sort trash from recyclables.

As part of the recycling project, each household gets bins to sort trash from recyclables.

In Lebanon our team launched a pilot recycling project that just won the Lebanon Energy Globe Award for Best Environmental Project of 2017. The Solid Waste Management project tackles the ongoing trash crisis in Lebanon. It’s even more severe in crowded old Palestinian refugee camps, where families live in poverty. Recycling is often non-existent, and there’s no space to dispose of trash.

12. Springtime in Bani Naim: Elderly Farmer Relives the Past, Soothes Pain

Zahiya brings her five-year-old grandson with her to the clinic in Bani Naim.

Zahiya brings her five-year-old grandson with her to the clinic in Bani Naim.

Spring has always been a time of rejuvenation and hope for Palestinian villagers and farmers. But for elderly farmers intent on continuing their traditional work, ailments can get in the way. Grandmother Zahiya had to stop farming because of her arthritis, but with medicines Anera delivered to her local clinic in the West Bank, she’s back in the fields to herd her sheep.

11. How a Refugee Camp Recycling Project Improves Livelihoods

Ayman is a scavenger in Nahr El Bared, Lebanon.

Ayman is a scavenger in Nahr El Bared, Lebanon.

“They call me ‘son of the sea’ since I am always fishing or looking for trash on the beach to make ends meet,” said Ayman, a scavenger in Nahr El Bared camp. He’s a volunteer in Anera’s solid waste management program which is tackling Lebanon’s trash crisis by spreading environmental awareness, sorting and recycling waste. “I am doing this for my own good and the for the good of the environment.”

10. In Beddawi Camp, Donated Dialysis Unit Saves Lives

In coordination with Health Care Society, Anera has donated in-kind medical relief items worth $170,000 to support the new dialysis unit and other support services at Safad Hospital.

In coordination with Health Care Society, Anera has donated in-kind medical relief items worth $170,000 to support the new dialysis unit and other support services at Safad Hospital.

Anera has donated in-kind medical relief items worth $170,000 to support the new dialysis unit and other support services at Safad Hospital in the Palestinian refugee camp of Beddawi, Lebanon. Established in 1983 as a local clinic, the facility gradually expanded to a full hospital by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society back in 1997.

9. Refugee Crisis in Lebanon: Youth Lead Community Service Projects

A teen sorts winter relief items for Syrian refugees in the Bekaa.

A teen sorts winter relief items for Syrian refugees in the Bekaa.

Last year, more than 37,000 youth benefited from sports, health, and education activities implemented by Anera and local partners in Lebanon. Youth-led initiatives proved to be of great efficiency when it comes to serving the community on one hand, and on the other to equipping youth with life skills and values, like confidence, cooperation, and teamwork.

8. Tomatoes from Khaled’s Greenhouse Lead to a Better Life

With the revenue from the Gaza greenhouse, Khaled can provide for his children.

With the revenue from the new greenhouse, Khaled is able to buy school supplies for his children.

Because of the Gaza blockade, Khaled had to quit farming and look for other work. Anera put a greenhouse on his property in Deir El Balah so he could farm again and feed his family. “With the money I get from selling the tomatoes, I enrolled my family in decent health care insurance, paid for treatment for my ill wife, and also purchased schoolbooks for my children.”

7. Palestinian Family Clinic: “We Never Close Our Doors to Anyone”

Gaza Family Clinic: We Never Close Our Doors to Anyone
In the impoverished village of Wadi Salqa, Mohamed Abu Moghasib and his wife Maezooza opened a 24-hour clinic for their neighbors. “We never close our doors to anyone,” said Mohamed. They even treat animals, like a goat with a broken leg. And in the winters, they collect warm clothes to donate to the less fortunate.

6. A Syrian Family Adapts to Life in Gaza

Basima and her Syrian family celebrate Ramadan in Gaza for the fourth year.

Basima and daughter Maya prepare for the iftar meal.

“We only packed our summer clothes because we thought we were only going to be gone for a short time,” said Basima, a mother from Homs. She and her family fled the Syrian war to Gaza, where they were soon confronted with more war in 2014. “We lost everything, and now we have become dependent on assistance.”

5. Gaza’s Atfaluna School Leaves No Child Behind

The Atfaluna School brings together deaf and hearing children to create an inclusive learning environment.

The Atfaluna School brings together deaf and hearing children to create an inclusive learning environment.

The Atfaluna School brings together deaf and hearing children to create an inclusive learning environment. It’s already begun to shift attitudes in Gaza. “Through inclusive activities, I aim to create a sense of acceptance rather than exclusion for deaf children,” said librarian, Hekmat.

4. Teacher With Disability Goes Back to the Classroom

Haja Fatima, a teacher in Gaza, has never let her disability hold her back.

Haja Fatima, a teacher in Gaza, has never let her disability hold her back.

Haja Fatima has never let her disability hold her back, but she needs medicine to cope with her symptoms. Every day, she takes donated pain relievers so she can keep teaching her young students. “We all need to believe in our abilities,” she said. “I tell my students to fear nothing in this world, and that everyone has the potential to become the person he or she wants and dreams to be.”

3. Gaza Women Lead Local Water and Sanitation Project

Om Ahmed started a women's led initiative to bring water and good hygiene to her Gaza neighborhood.

Om Ahmed started a women’s led initiative to bring water and good hygiene to her Gaza neighborhood.

Accessing water has long been a major struggle in Om Ahmed’s neighborhood of Sheikh Ejlien. “Water is even more scarce during summertime,” she explained. “One summer, we had no water for 7-10 days and because of the power outages, the water pressure was low too.” To combat this problem, Om Ahmed started a women-led initiative to bring water and sanitation to her town.

2. Meet Salma, a Blind Syrian Refugee Learning to Sew

Through Syrian refugee education classes, Salma finds safety and comfort in Lebanon.

With the help of her attentive teacher, Salma is learning to sew. Anera
accommodates refugees with disabilities and provides transportation to class.

It’s all about the touch: the texture and the details that can be sensed, rather than seen. This is how 19-year-old Salma, a Syrian refugee, is able to sew beautiful clothing despite her vision impairment. “This is the first activity I’ve ever done in Lebanon,” said Salma. “I am very happy and all my classmates treat me respectfully.

And the top story of 2017…

1. Greenhouses Help Gaza Farmers

Sabah’s daughter Heba helps out in the greenhouse during the summer break before she begins sixth grade.

Sabah’s daughter Heba helps out in the greenhouse during the summer break before she begins sixth grade.

Sabah had been struggling to support her family with the meager income her husband made as a fisherman. But when Anera installed a new greenhouse in her yard, she started growing her own vegetables to feed her children and earn extra money. “This project will change our lives in many ways,” said Sabah, who uses her homegrown tomatoes in her cooking.

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