Jackie and Beatriz’s Palestine Photodiary

Jackie Garcia, our International Programmes Coordinator, and Beatriz Martinez, our Youth Employment Advisor, visited Y Care International’s partners in the Occupied Territories of Palestine, the YWCA of Palestine and the East Jerusalem of YMCA.

Y Care International has been partnering with both YWCA and YMCA for a long time.

The most recent project implemented by YWCA of Palestine in the West Bank developed the capacities of 19 female business coaches to be able to support around 80 Palestinian women-led businesses.

Day 1:

We visited the East Jerusalem YMCA’s Women Development Program in the village of Rabout near Hebron. We met a group of strong women who used small grants to develop their own business or small community projects enhancing women empowerment, self-confidence and self-esteem.

Young woman in Palestine with her vegetable garden

Like this young women who has planted a small vegetable garden where with her sisters are producing, cabbage, onions or spinach.

Or this group of women who have created a cooperative with a community kitchen cooking for special occasions like celebrations or school events using the vegetables they grow in their greenhouse using their own compost with food wastes.

Young woman at falafel restaurant

We also visited this 19 years old young women who opened the first falafel restaurant in the village. Falafel is very typical in Palestine but it is normally cooked at home. She had the innovative idea to open a restaurant offering falafel for breakfast and lunch for the school students and other workers in the area.

Day 2:

We visited the Rehabilitation Project that the East Jerusalem has in Beit Sahour, in Bethlem area. The project supports young people who have been in prisons and want to learn new skills to have better job opportunities. The programme offers an initial vocational assessment to assess what are the innate skills the young person has and matches those skills with the types of work that best fit with their capabilities and skills before moving to the specific vocational training. The programme is also open to people with disabilities who also experience difficulties in finding job opportunities that are right for them.

Vocational assessmentCo-ordination assessment

This activity helps to assess aptitudes like co-ordination, ability to follow specific instructions or supervise the work of others in an assembly line set up.

Co-ordination test involving heightCo-ordination test involving weight

This activity is used to assess the manual abilities and coordination working at different heights or with different weights. Depending of the dexterity at different heights or weights the person will be better fit to work as electrician or as mechanical or in a storage moving lighter or heavier items.

Day 3:

We visited the YWCA of Palestine, Vocational Training Centre in Jerusalem. They offer various vocational training: business courses, modern kitchen training, or photography and graphic design training, all complemented with psycho-social support and career advice.

YWCA of Palestine, Vocational Training Centre in Jerusalem

We participated in a brief session of the training happening that day. These two women were part of the kitchen course, learning about hygiene, basic management and accountancy, which will enhance their employment opportunities in the sector.

Women on a kitchen courseVocational Centre training team

A big thank you to the Vocational Training Centre team, VTC Manager and Employment Officer, who described the work they do and explain that their employment rates after the training are high.

Day 4:

We met with the Youth Business Coach Programme team in Jerusalem. It was a project implemented by the YWCA that ended last year. We discussed the final evaluation, the achievements and challenges of the project. And we talked about the learnings and how to make things better in the design of new projects.

Youth Business Coach team in Jerusalem

Olive trees are a major agricultural crop in the Palestinian territories, where they are mostly grown for olive oil production. For many Palestinians the olive trees are a symbol of nationality and connection to the land. Olive oil is served almost with every meal and when driving around the countryside you can see olive trees all around (although much less than some years ago).

Palestinian olive tree

Day 5:

We left the 4 walls of the YWCA offices and, on a heavily rain day we went to the field to visit the Youth Business Coach Programme implemented by the YWCA of Palestine. We visited two women cooperative in Bethlehem area.

Original Heritage Association for Women

Rose started the “Original Heritage Association for Women” in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, at an old barn from her family. They are a women cooperative designing traditional dresses but also selling handcrafts made by women from the surrounding areas. They also have a kitchen next to the old barn where they prepare delicious Palestinian sweets, jams, dry herbs and olive oil soaps among other things.

Young Business Coaches

MsBattir and Dzj are two Young Business Coaches trained through the project who have been supporting various women-led businesses in Bethlehem area in the last year. Both are very motivated to continue their career as business coaches.

“Economic and Social Development Centre of Palestine”Handcrafted items

MSBattir is the business coach of another women cooperative called “Economic and Social Development Centre of Palestine”. They sell traditional handcrafted items, cook for especial occasions in the basement kitchen and dry local herbs. But they also have a day-care centre for the association members and a female only gym.

Beatriz's presentation

Beatriz gave a presentation to the young business coaches, the YWCA staff and some women entrepreneurs about a project implemented by another partner in Pakistan that created a social enterprise for marketing the handcrafts made by a group of women. Women attending the presentation were very enthusiastic listening what was being done somewhere else and found lots of similarities in the products they design and were motivated and inspired by new ideas.

Day 6:

We went with the East Jerusalem YMCA to visit some of the young people who participated in the Rehabilitation Programme in Dura, a city next to Hebron.

Participant of YMCA Rehabilitation Programme

Noha is a young woman who walks with difficulties therefore the job opportunities in Dura are extremely challenging. Through the YMCA Rehabilitation Programme, Noha, received training and a loan to open her small shop named Hope, where she sells colourful things from household items to stationery for kids and students. She learned accounting, business management and how to negotiate with providers. She is the only bread winner in her family and her parents are very proud of her success. She wants to widen the beauty products range she sells.

Participant of YMCA Rehabilitation Programme

Zobair lives in Dura with his wife and children. He suffered an accident in the canteen he was working two years ago and ended in a wheelchair. His job options were very limited until his very good friend Kaleem, who had also participated in the rehabilitation programme, talked him about the programme. Zobair joined the programme of the YMCA and after the vocational assessment and vocational training on electronics; he started working at Kaleem’s mobile shop liaising with international providers.

Day 7

We had some time to visit Bethlehem and the Educational Bookstore in Jerusalem with more than 1400 titles. As well as tasting some typical dishes.

Visit to BethlehemEducational Bookstore in Jerusalem

Day 8

Jackie returned to London and Beatriz went to visit the Vocational Training Centre in Jericho which provides vocational training opportunities for socially and economically marginalised youth and students with learning difficulties of both genders (although most of the beneficiaries are boys). Beatriz had the opportunity to meet and speak with the Director of the Centre, Samah Shalian Nabber, and the trainers, with whom Beatriz had lunch and discussed the main challenges facing the centre. Samah took Beatriz around the Vocational Centre showing her the different training opportunities (sustainable agriculture, metal work, decoration and car body repair, maintenance and repair of automotive vehicles, building maintenance-electrical installation, construction and furniture production…)

Vocational Training Centre in JerichoSustainable Agriculture


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