Anera Then and Now
This page will revisit some of the thousands of projects and people who Anera has worked with over the years to see where they are now — from universities that got their start with Anera’s help to teachers who changed their classroom with new skills they gained. #anerathenandnow
“Years ago I visited a community in Nassariya, West Bank. A farmer approached me and said, ‘Look son, first the English came and said they’d build us a bridge to connect the two sides of our village. But they didn’t do it. Then the Jordanians came and said they’d do it. But they didn’t. Then the Palestinian Authority came and said they’d do it. But they didn’t. You know who did it? Anera did! You made our village whole.’ ”
— Naser Qadous, Anera agricultural programs manager
In 2010, Anera kick-started its early childhood development program in Palestine. Although our work focuses on the kindergarten years, ages four to six, our program aims to help all children from birth to eight. What happens in a child’s early years pretty much determines the overall outcome of a person’s life – their health and overall status. This is when a person’s brain develops most, and the need for optimum nutrition, health, protection, and stimulation is vital.
Over the past eight years, Anera’s Right Start! education program has focused on early childhood education, helping to renovate over 180 kindergartens – approximately 10 percent of Palestinian kindergartens – and train more than 600 teachers. To date, our program has also helped 30,000 children and 20,000 mothers. Crucially, Anera took the lead in the development of the first Palestinian preschool curriculum – an effort on the part of the Ministry of Education, UNICEF, Save the Children, and many other individuals and organizations that focus on childhood. This initiative was launched by Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr. Sabri Saidam in October 2017.
The outbreak of the first intifada led to a boycott of imports, which left a huge shortage of dairy products in the West Bank. Anera donors helped five cooperatives establish dairies, creating a market for dairy farmers, and promoted best practices in dealing with milk-based products. The dairies were set up around Bethlehem, Nablus, Tulkarem and Hebron.
The cooperatives collected milk from local farmers, generating job opportunities for the farmers, who in turn contributed to producing locally a product that benefited hundreds of families. In the early years, Hamoda Dairy depended on Anera’s machines and equipment for milk production. The company continued to grow and in 1998 it moved into a new, larger facility.
Hospitality is the key to success for Nada Akl who runs the hotel in the town of Zahle, Lebanon that her father and grandfather managed before her. Located in the heart of Zahle, the Akl Hotel is well-known throughout the Bekaa Valley. Nada’s grandfather opened the business in 1968 and her family has run it ever since.
Nada explains how Anera’s rural tourism program in 2006-2008 worked: “I took part in several workshops. To start with, we got a first aid certificate. That was followed by catering courses. They also helped me a lot with communication in terms of website design, brochures and online marketing.” Nada says the whole process has helped her attract travelers from abroad, who mostly prefer to book their bed and breakfast on the web before arriving in Lebanon.
Read more about Hotel Akl.
The National Institution of Social Care and Vocational training (NISCVT), known locally as Beit Atfal Assumoud, was established in Nahr El Bared refugee camp (16km from the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli) in 1976. It’s original mission was to provide assistance to orphaned children who lost their parents during the Tal Al Zaatar massacre. Today, Beit Atfal Assumoud aims to contribute to the development of the Palestinian community in Lebanon through services addressing the needs of families, and through various gender-balanced projects empowering the potential and skills of children and adults.
In 2007, fighting erupted between the Lebanese Army and militants seeking refuge inside the camp, resulting in the destruction of most of the camp as well as Beit Atfal Assumoud. After the fighting ended, Anera helped restore part of the center, while also providing much-needed vocational courses and awareness sessions aimed at developing economic and professional opportunities in the camp.
Since 2010, Anera’s Gaza Food Security Program has worked to improve access to healthy foods and increase household income of Gaza’s most marginalized and food-insecure families. Centered around the construction of a greenhouse for each family, the program promotes greater efficiency of limited land and water resources and longer growing seasons. Since its inception, the Gaza Food Security Program has improved the health and livelihoods of 187 families, most of whom continue to reap the harvest of their greenhouses.
For many years, the preschool in the small remote village of Al Majd in the southern West Bank was a collection of rented rooms in a small and dilapidated building. The small, dingy rooms had peeling paint on the walls, a leaky roof and few windows. The playground was downright dangerous with its metal equipment. Five years ago, Anera’s education team began working with the amazing director of the school, who despite everything, had managed to work miracles by making the space cheerful for her 50 children. Her dream was a new preschool and Anera made it happen. Now the preschoolers no longer have to learn in a small rented space. The brand new preschool Anera built in Al Majd is built according to a special Anera design that includes colorful classrooms, safe play areas, toys and books, and much more.
In 2008, the Edward Said National Conservatory – Gaza music school was launched. Thanks to Anera scholarships, students are able to study and play traditional Arabic music as well as western classical music. In 2010, Anera donors generously replaced pianos destroyed during the 2008-09 Gaza War and have continued their support into 2018. The school has expanded its outreach programs in recent years to integrate more students from different parts of Gaza through partnerships with local cultural centers.
In 2012, Al Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza, was deteriorating and and badly in need of upgrades. With funding from USAID, Anera completely renovated the building, which provides vital health care services – like physical therapy for people with disabilities – to more than 8,000 area residents. Anera donors have continued to support the hospital with medical aid and donations of medicines. Patients struggling to make ends meet in one of the world’s most depressed economies are therefore able to get medicine free-of-charge. The hospital is a branch of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which has been a valued Anera partner in Gaza for 16 years.
In 1948, a small group of concerned individuals founded AMER (American Middle East Rehabilitation) to respond with humanitarian relief for Palestinians following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In 1971, AMER merged with a young Anera to become its medical and humanitarian relief program; Anera’s oldest program. In the early years, Anera donors delivered one or two shipments annually, valued in the tens of thousands of dollars. Today, Anera’s in-kind program, thanks to our generous community of supporters and donors, distributes millions of dollars worth of medicines, hospital equipment, wheelchairs, and health care supplies annually to vulnerable communities in Palestine and Lebanon.
In 2008, Anera helped fund the construction of a new branch of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Beit Sahour. The building can accommodate up to 300 students and consists of two parallel floors with the music equipment necessary to teach at the highest levels. Following international standards for conservatories, the school provides individual and collective training rooms, a specialized music library, a multi-purpose exhibition hall, music repair workshops, a student canteen, and two small apartments to accommodate visiting professors. Today, the conservatory continues to provide world-class musical education to students in the southern West Bank region of Palestine.
When Anera created the Gaza Women’s Loan Fund in 1995, the aim was to help low-income women launch small businesses to help sustain their families. With Gaza’s high unemployment rate and many men out of work, it was up to the women of the community to help their families survive. The idea was to provide small loans as seed money for women entrepreneurs. The results have been astonishing. For women like Aida, the loan she got in 2010 changed her life.
Like the neighborhood around it in the town of Beit Hanoun, Amjad preschool had been destroyed during the 2014 Gaza war, leaving some 150 preschool children without a safe place to take refuge. In 2015, Anera partnered with other educational institutions to organize a psycho-social gathering in a vacant plot of land next to the school’s ruins so children could gather, play and express their emotions through drawings, songs, art and storytelling. Thanks to funds from the Ajram Family Foundation, the government of Kuwait, and private donors, after 45 days of hard work and dedication, Anera was able to rebuild the preschool.
In 2005, Anera supervised and managed the hillside terracing, landscaping and construction of Aqraba Public Park. Parks of this size, filled with colorful flowers, olive trees, playgrounds, and a public fountain, are rare throughout the West Bank and provide valuable green spaces for children and the community to gather. Today the park still stands, well maintained and used by the entire community.
In 1978, Anera began providing scholarships for the Dar Al-Tifl School & Orphanage for Girls in Jerusalem. In the late 1980s, Anera renovated the school facilities. Then in 2004, Anera donors upgraded the electrical system of the girls’ boarding section. By 2005, generous Anera supporters funded new furniture and materials for a museum, library and workshop for students. Our Anera community is so proud to be associated with such an important Jerusalem orphanage/school, that continues to thrive today.
In 2009, the dabkeh troupe from Rawdat El-Zuhur elementary school in Jerusalem was invited to Washington, DC to perform at Anera’s Annual Dinner. Qais, a troupe member and student at the time, never forgot the impact of that trip and how the school had a positive effect on his life. Anera has proudly supported Rawdat El-Zuhur since 1973, through a scholarship program, classroom and equipment upgrades and safety renovations. Founded in 1952 as a home for young girls whose lives were shaken up by the 1948 war, over the years it has evolved into a co-ed elementary school and a kindergarten that now educates around 250 Palestinian students.
In 2010, with funding from IFAD and support from the local authorities, Anera moved the wholesale produce market from the center of Tulkarem, West Bank, where it was causing traffic jams and congestion. The new location, on the edge of town, is much easier for farmers and buyers to access. All of the stalls are rented and the market bustles with activity every day.
Through the years, Anera has organized training programs for Atfaluna staff, renovated and improved its facilities and generally supported Atfaluna’s work to prepare so many talented children and adults for life. The Atfaluna Society is the only school in Gaza city that works to improve the lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing people, particularly those aged between 3-5 years.
In the early 1990s, Anera invested $110,000 in Hebron University to help establish the soil and water lab. Today in 2018, the lab is one of the busiest in the department of agriculture. Not only do students and professors use it to help with their work and research, but it’s also open to the local community so farmers can run tests on soil and water samples.
Najwa says she wouldn’t be as successful today if she had not participated in Anera’s training back in 2007. The special awareness sessions were part of Anera’s Milk for Preschoolers program, which helped combat anemia by providing daily snacks of fortified milk and biscuits. “I learned how to identify kids with symptoms of anemia and advise parents how to refer them to local clinics for proper treatment.” Najwa explains. “Today I focus on hygiene and the preparation of healthy meals for children and how a mother can do that with minimum costs.” Najwa smiles, “I learned all this in Anera’s training with a professional doctor back in 2007 and it has served me well ever since.” Najwa also earned an Anera certificate in active learning that focused on expressive arts and drama. Because of her dedication and professionalism, she was selected to be the preschool’s director in 2009.
During the rainy season in the Jordan Valley, rain can come hard and fast, causing flooding and wreaking havoc in communities by disconnecting people from their workplaces, schools, and health care services. In 2007, Anera built gabions to shore up the sides of a ravine in Jericho. Ever since, rainwater has safely traveled to the Jordan River and depleted aquifers.
Twenty years after Anera’s small role in Magdi’s life (the invitation to study organic farming in California), his organic farm in Gaza is thriving and he is a mentor to other farmers. Anera also has just installed a large pond to collect water for drip irrigation on his farm. “Another great thing about organic farming is that water resources are better managed,” says Magdi.
A small group of concerned individuals founded AMER (American Middle East Rehabilitation) to respond with humanitarian relief for Palestinians following the first Arab-Israeli conflict in 1948. In 1971, AMER merged with Anera and became Anera’s medical and humanitarian relief program. Today, eight staff work with hundreds of clinics, hospitals and pharmacies in vulnerable communities across Lebanon and Palestine, delivering millions of dollars worth of vital health care supplies.
We will update this log regularly to provide an ongoing report back to donors on the ways Anera is responding during this COVID-19 crisis. We will also be providing occasional updates about conditions on the ground and our staff. Please…
GAZA LEBANON Every year during Ramadan, Anera assembles food parcels with an array of pantry essentials for hungry families in Gaza and Lebanon. This year, due to the economic distress caused by COVID-19, our food parcels were even more important….
Anera’s staff in Lebanon are making their communities better during COVID-19 with sustainable solutions.