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Volume 7, No. 3WINTER 2004

Training brings ‘hope and work’ to
struggling West Bank families

By Nora Kort, IOCC-Jerusalem

Women from the West Bank village of Kafr Dan, 82 miles north of Jerusalem, speak their minds at a public health training session led by IOCC. Developing grassroots leadership among Palestinian women and young people is the focus of a new IOCC project in Kafr Dan and seven other rural villages. Photo: IOCC-Jerusalem

Jerusalem (IOCC) — “We were blessed with IOCC’s coming to Rummana village,” said Mizien, the mother of eight children. “For the first time ever in our small village, women have a center where they can meet, share common concerns and dreams, and learn a skill.”

Mizien, energized by the health training she received from IOCC, now wants to get involved in a new IOCC project (Civic Education in Rural Palestine) that will establish computer centers and libraries in eight rural West Bank villages.

At this critical juncture in history, the new project will train hundreds of Palestinian women and young people in grassroots democracy building and civic leadership through the use of computer technology, small groups and library resources.

“All of us, mothers and children, want to learn how to use computers, even my 65-year-old mother-in-law,” Mizien said.

Funded by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the project seeks to identify women leaders and train them on issues of health, civil society, environment and democracy. It will create 25 temporary jobs, while leaving a lasting legacy for the eight participating villages and their 20,000 residents, said Nora Kort, IOCC-Jerusalem director.

“With access to library and computer resources and the proper training, the next generation of Palestinian leaders will learn how to emulate and incorporate the ideals of democracy into their communities,” Ms. Kort said.

Trainers will use the libraries for afternoon youth tutorials on public health, sanitation, the environment, water and other topics.

“In 2000, IOCC trained me in health education and first aid,” said Abeer Rahhal. “For three years, I volunteered to spread the knowledge I gained in my own village of Kafr Dan. I was then expecting my youngest son, Nibras, who attends the kindergarten IOCC constructed last year.

“The knowledge I got, boosted my self-esteem. Now it will bring me work and an income to spend on the education of my children. I feel happy to be a health educator,” she said. “I badly need a job, since my husband’s income is hardly enough for food.”

Sahar, who lives in the remote village of Kfeiret, recently received training in bee-keeping from IOCC. “God has provided for us, and we’ll provide for our successors,” she said. “The bee-keeping project brought us hope and work. It is true that the honey we produced gave us food and an income, but it also strengthened our family and community ties.”

“Even my youngest boys help me take care of the bees, which is our main source of income,” said Tamam, a mother of 11 children.

A Palestinian woman from the village of Um Anas leads a training session using leadership skills she learned from IOCC. More women like her will receive leadership training through a new IOCC project funded by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photo: IOCC-Jerusalem

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