Jerusalem is one of the world's oldest cities and it lies at the confluence of three major religions.
Jerusalem Governorate | محافظة القدس
Jerusalem, one of the world’s oldest cities lying at the confluence of three major world religions, is where Anera opened its first office in the Middle East, in 1976. Our original location was the well-known and beautiful Orient House in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. From that office and three new Jerusalem locations since, Anera has operated its headquarters in Palestine.
A group of concerned Americans started Anera in 1968 to help Palestinians who became refugees as a result of the 1967 war. The aid we originally sent in the first several years came in the form of medicines and other relief supplies as well as small grants to local organizations in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
In 1975, our operation in the Middle East grew significantly with the support of the US Agency for International Development, which became a major and early institutional funder of our work. From 1975 to 2019, Anera won grant after grant from USAID, first to act as a grantor to small Palestinian education, health and cultural nonprofits, and later to implement infrastructure projects, from building schools and hospitals to installing water and sewage networks.
Anera’s work in Palestine has, for more than five decades, garnered grants from dozens of other institutional donors as well as thousands of individual donors who are dedicated to helping hope find a way in Jerusalem and Palestine as a whole, Lebanon, Jordan, and beyond.
Helping health facilities in Jerusalem
From the beginning of Anera’s program delivery in Jerusalem, we provided support to small and large health care centers doing vital work to serve Palestinians. In 1970, as just one example, Anera gave the Jerusalem Neurosurgical Unit a small grant to help them buy x-ray equipment. Also, in 1970, Anera began our many years of support to the Four Homes of Mercy (Izzariyeh) in support of its work aiding the children with special needs suffering from severe physical or neurological disorders.
Some examples of other Jerusalem-based health care facilities that Anera helped for many years, starting in the 1970s, are the Red Crescent Maternity Hospital (At-Tur), the Red Crescent Society, the Spafford Clinic (Izzariyeh), Makassed Hospital (At-Tur), Saint John Eye Hospital (Sheikh Jarrah), and Augusta Victoria Hospital (At-Tur).
In 2011, Anera conducted a breast cancer awareness program that included community awareness sessions, as well as free mammography screening, which benefited 2,000 women in Jerusalem and Salfit.
Supporting education in Jerusalem
Education is at the heart of so much of Anera’s work, whether formal or informal, for children or adults. Anera believes in the power of education to give people options and to open doors, even in places where the political and socio-economic conditions throw challenges in the way every day.
Some of the educational institutions that received Anera’s earliest support are located in Jerusalem. We provided grants to many Palestinian orphanages which struggled to meet their operating expenses and to take in all of the children who needed a place to live. In Jerusalem, Anera supported the Industrial Islamic Orphanage (Old City), the Arab Women's Society, Dar Al-Awlad (Sheikh Jarrah), Jeel al-Amal (Izzariyeh), among others. Many of these organizations not only provided a residence to orphans, but they were schools and vocational training centers.
The Anera scholarship program operated for 32 years, starting in 1978. The first schools in the program were Rawdat El Zuhur (some of the children from Rawdat are sharing their dreams for the future in the below film) and the Dar Al-Tifl School & Orphanage for Girls in Jerusalem. Through three decades of support, Anera donors provided funds for renovations and upgrades, new equipment, books, operating expenses, and more. Our Anera community is so proud to be associated with such important Jerusalem schools that continue to thrive today.
A Jerusalem school that Anera has supported in the past couple decades is the Spafford Center, located in the Old City of Jerusalem. Spafford works to improve the health, education and well-being of vulnerable Palestinian children and women in and around East Jerusalem. Anera’s most recently funded programs providing 700 children and young people with educational support services and extracurricular activities.
Building education infrastructure
Anera also has a history of building the capacity of higher educational institutions in Palestine. At Al Quds University, we added two new faculty buildings to the campus. In 2004, Anera constructed the first of four IT Centers of Excellence in Palestine. The center, which sits just within the wall in Abu Dis, provides classes and also acts as a hub for business incubation. More recently, with generous funding from Najjad Zeeni, Anera built a state-of-the-art engineering department.
With USAID funding in 2009-2010, Anera constructed new classrooms, renovated bathrooms, improved outdoor spaces, and added multipurpose rooms to the Izzariyeh Secondary School for Girls, the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (Beit Hanina), and the Beit Iksa Secondary School for Girls.
Anera rehabilitated, in 2019, the educational, physical and cognitive therapy facilities at the Princess Basma Center (Izzariyeh), which serves 610 children with special needs. The center is another organization that Anera has supported for many years.
Improving preschool education
In the past 10 years, early childhood development has grown to become our flagship education program in Palestine. Our comprehensive approach builds safe and inspiring spaces, equips schools with appropriate learning materials, engages parents in their children’s development, and trains teachers on child-centered teaching practices.
Anera trained teachers from and renovated preschools in Qalandia refugee camp, Abu Dis, Beit Ijza, Beit Iksa, and Izzariyeh. The preschool located in the village of Beit Iksa is sealed with a permanent checkpoint. Anera's work on the school, in addition to our provision of equipment and training of teachers, means that children are now enjoying better quality preschool education without having to travel to nearby villages. We are currently building a new preschool in Abu Dis.
Assisting cultural and community organizations
Community centers and organizations promoting cultural learning are vital spaces for providing assistance to those in need as well as for gathering and celebrating those things that bring us together as people. Everywhere that Anera works, we seek to support these kinds of organizations.
In Jerusalem, starting in 1970 and for many years, Anera granted the YMCA funds to finance their many community services in the city. We supported the Arab Women’s Union in their work providing mother/child care, food for the needy, and vocational training for Palestinian women.
One of Anera’s favorite cultural institutions in Palestine is the Edward Said National Conservatory. Anera donors have supported the conservatory for decades, in Jerusalem as well as in Gaza, Ramallah and Bethlehem, helping the school to buy new instruments, make upgrades and renovations, and provide scholarships to young musicians who are passionate about their craft.
Anera has also supported other Jerusalem cultural organizations, like the Yabous Production and Cultural Center and the Al Hoash Gallery. In 2010, with Anera funding, Al Hoash conducted workshops for 71 kids from impoverished areas and communities isolated by the wall. The workshops helped the youngsters explore and express their fears, beliefs and dreams. Walls were a recurring theme and so was a sense of somberness. But there was also a strong sense of identity, mixed with joy and pride.
Sharing agricultural knowledge
In 2012, Anera launched a project to contribute to the pool of knowledge shared by local farmers on how best to maximize land utilization in Jerusalem (along with Hebron and Tubas). The program linked researchers from the NGO sector and academic institutions focused on agricultural issues in Palestine with local farmers on the ground to address the challenges of increased food security through improved land utilization. Ninety farmers participated in the program. We worked in partnership with the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture and several Palestinian NGOs with considerable experience in agriculture, particularly in inter-cropping and land reclamation to test and identify best practices in local agriculture and systems for effective knowledge sharing among small Palestinian farmers.
Mitigating Floods in Izzariyeh
Izzariyeh, east of Jerusalem, is a town of 30,000. The town’s low-lying sections were vulnerable to bad flooding in storms. Anera was able to help in 2014. With funding from USAID, we constructed a storm water drainage system that discharges rainwater by means of large, underground channels.