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Volume 8, No. 2FALL 2005

In-Kind goods help Palestinians
overcome poverty, lack of mobility

A woman from the West Bank town of Madama displays one of the embroideries she made at the local women's sewing cooperative. Photo: Nicole Minor - The Pangea Network

Jerusalem (IOCC) — It all started with a beautiful patchwork quilt.

A group of women from Nablus in the West Bank received some quilts as part of IOCC’s ongoing program of assistance in the Holy Land. But the women weren’t content to be on the receiving end of humanitarian aid. The quilt gave them an idea that has blossomed into a way for them to earn critically-needed income for their families.

“We supported their desire to do it themselves,” said Nora Kort, IOCC-Jerusalem Country Representative. The women started creating quilts for their own use and to sell for the benefit of a local women’s cooperative.

“It enhances self-reliance, generates income, increases cooperation and helps their families,” Ms. Kort said. “It’s assistance with an eye on development.”

The quilts were part of a larger distribution of material goods (blankets, health kits, school kits) delivered by IOCC in the West Bank in 2004, and made possible by IOCC’s growing Gifts-in-Kind program. That work is continuing this year, with the distribution of wheelchairs and more school and health kits.

Ms. Kort said that in-kind goods help supplement the ongoing humanitarian programs of IOCC in the rural West Bank. Currently, IOCC is implementing projects to renovate schools and youth facilities in 23 isolated villages, and to train women and young people in public health, democracy building and leadership skills.

Participants in both projects, mostly women and children, have received health kits, school kits and baby kits, and more are on the way. “It supports and gives relief to the families that normally can’t afford these things,” Ms. Kort said. “For the children, it enhances their interest and readiness to continue their studies. For the mothers, it comes at a time when mobility is severely restricted and they can’t normally get access to baby supplies.”

IOCC’s Gifts-in-Kind program leverages bulk quantities of material goods from corporate and charitable partners, and uses private donations to effectively and efficiently distribute the aid to people who need it the most.

In 2004, IOCC received nearly $100,000 in donated goods such as health and school kits from its ecumenical partners.

The kits were distributed in 45 villages through an extensive network of IOCC partner organizations — village councils, women’s committees and local non-governmental organizations. Educational toys were also distributed to kindergartens and orphanages around Christmas time.

“It relieves the budget of the kindergarten and contributes to the psychological well-being of the children,” Ms. Kort said. “It’s very therapeutic. It’s important to remember that these children have been raised in a culture of violence, so these toys are very welcome.”

Often the benefit of a toy or parcel goes beyond the item itself. For Nicole Minor of Houston, Texas, a blanket being used as a rug in a West Bank kindergarten classroom was a spur to do something more. Ms. Minor recently visited IOCC’s projects in the West Bank and, while visiting a kindergarten classroom in Kufur Dan, saw a group of children using a folded blanket as a rug.

“All they had was a concrete floor,” Ms. Minor said. When she returned to the States, Minor gave a presentation to a local high school and engaged the interest of a group of students who raised money for a new rug. “The students really could connect with who they were helping,” she said. “It’s real to them.”

This year, more than $200,000 in material goods will be distributed by IOCC in the West Bank at a cost of about $20,000.

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