IOCC Initiatives in Middle East Equip Vulnerable Communities

Jerusalem/Amman (August 29, 2005) — The inauguration of the At-Tayba Community Center in the Ramallah district of the West Bank on August 10th constitutes a significant step in providing the most at-risk segments of this village – women and children – access to education and knowledge. The Community Center, with its new library and Internet technology center, was made available to the local community by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) with support from the Government of Greece.

The Center is a natural outgrowth of the successful “Women’s Emergency Employment Program” funded by IOCC in 2004 that trained village women in bee-keeping. The group eventually organized themselves, and was recognized, as the “Tayba Cooperative for Rural Development,” and is pursuing other ways to enhance their growing community.

The ribbon cutting for the Internet technology center and library was conducted by the Deputy Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem, Ms. Sophia Tamatali and others. During the ceremony, attended by various dignitaries from the Palestinian Authority, the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, the village, and the IOCC-Jerusalem office, Ms. Tamatali reiterated the Greek Government’s continuing support for IOCC’s important work on these types of community projects.

“Coming from a village myself, I can understand the value of such a project,” observed Ms. Tamatali. “This is the second phase of the program which has had a positive impact in the Palestinian society.”

Ten days previously, in the neighboring country of Jordan, IOCC partnered with the Jordan River Foundation to support the Al Karma Center in the underserved area of Jabal Al Natheef of Amman. The Al Karma Center was opened in 2002 in order to serve the local community with income-generation and employment projects. The Center includes five projects: A nursery, commercial kitchen, computer training institute, the Wadi Al Rayan Handicrafts Project, and the Jordan River Designs Project.

IOCC’s grant to the Center will concentrate in the area of handicrafts, providing sewing machines, tools, and embroidery equipment. The Center provides employment to more than 200 vulnerable and disadvantaged women who will undergo extensive training before receiving the materials. These women, who are the primary — if not only — job-holders in the home, will be empowered through this work to improve living conditions for themselves and their families.

IOCC’s partner in this project is the Jordan River Foundation, a non-governmental organization established in 1995 and chaired by Her Majesty Queen Rania. IOCC began its operations in Jordan in January of this year.

IOCC has been active in the Middle East since 1997, when it began humanitarian programs in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Founded in 1992, IOCC is an official humanitarian agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA).

IOCC Intern Arianna Rondos contributed to this story.