Program Background

Buildings in Gaza which were destroyed by armed attacks.

Since the establishment of Israel in 1949, the Palestinians have been living under suppressed human rights. Peace is not progressing even after the closure of the Oslo Accords in 1993, and people are still living in pain. Especially in East Jerusalem, where Israel takes effective control, public services and employment opportunities are limited, and people are living with discrimination and violence. The Gaza Strip has been closed for 13 years, and the economy is deteriorating every year. Unemployment and poverty rates are rising, with negative effects on the children’s growth. Under these circumstances, JVC has continued projects to support the people’s lives since 1992.

 

 

A Story in Our Activity Area

Muhammad’s father, who enthusiastically helped to make him better. The boy on his left is Muhammad when he was 1 year and 5 months old.

Muhammad, who was born in Gaza, had a pale face and was lacking energy for several months after his birth. His mother was worried, but she did not know whom to ask for help. When he was 9-months old, Um Awad, a neighbor and a local health promotion volunteer, saw Muhammad and thought, “He might have anemia and rickets.” So he consulted with a public health nurse of AEI. When Muhammad received medical examination during a home visit, he was indeed diagnosed with anemia and rickets, although his weight and height were of average value. The public health nurse gave him a nutritional supplement and explained to his parents about the nutrition necessary for babies and the importance of breastfeeding. The parents enthusiastically participated in cooking classes, bought nutritious food such as eggs and vegetables with their limited household expenses, and fed him. With these efforts, Muhammad’s anemia improved. He still has symptoms of rickets but has a better facial expression. He is now able to walk and play actively.

Resilience of Youths and Improvement of Community Health (East Jerusalem)

Outline of the Activities

Students are planting to reuse plastic bottles and keep their school clean.

In East Jerusalem, we conducted a project in collaboration with a local NGO, Medical Relief Society (MRS). We supported youths to overcome hardships they are facing under occupation and helped them to have resilience of mind without yielding to violence. We provided training about health, environment, child protection, gender, and so on to the students of the School Health Committee (SHC) in 19 schools of 16 areas in Jerusalem Governorate. The students then passed on their knowledge to other students and residents. After that, we cooperated with the residents and worked on solving issues on local health and hygiene. We also held a symposium to exchange experiences and feedback with the SHC on our past project. This project which began in 2015 was completed at the end of the 2019 fiscal year.

Observed Changes

Students organize a campaign on Healthy Meals.

We heard positive feedback from the students such as “We are happy to be of help to others”, “I have gained confidence”, and “I feel I have more responsibility by doing the project ourselves.” We also received feedback from the residents such as “We saw positive changes in the students”, and “The knowledge they shared with us has helped the locals.” Unfortunately, the Education Bureau on the Jerusalem side of the barrier was shut down due to political reasons, and the project was restricted. However, the local residents and the staff of the Education Bureau on the West Bank are showing a willingness to continue the support for the SHC’s activities even after the project ends.

Prevention of Malnutrition of Children (Gaza Strip)

Outline of the Activities

Volunteers providing counseling services to mothers after the children’s health examination.

Participants tasted food after learning about the nutrition for children. Quite a few mothers learned about new methods of cooking in this seminar.

Following the previous year, we made improvements on the nutritional status of the children in the central area of the Gaza Strip and created a system to enable local residents to support their healthy growth by themselves. We conducted health checks on children under three years old with public health nurses of a local NGO, Ard El Insan (AEI) and local health promotion volunteers. Children who required follow-ups had another checkup a month later, and we introduced facilities to those who needed treatment. We also organized seminars for guardians and pregnant women on development and growth, breast-feeding nurturing, and nutritious cooking. We held a workshop on creating toys which help the brain development of children. The 40 women who took the lectures and practical training sessions are continuously involved in the project.

Observed Changes

In order to purchase items necessary for childcare and get health check-ups, it is inevitable to gain understanding from men who have decisive power. From 2019, we have invited men to participate in the seminars. There were topics such as Positive Nurturing in the seminars, and the participants shared their experiences and discussed ways to communicate with children. Male participants commented, “I want to know more about children”, and “I want to participate in volunteering.” We are seeing a gradual change in the local community, where the idea that ‘nurturing is for women to do’ strongly exists.

Our Partner Organizations

Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS, East Jerusalem)

A Palestinian NGO established in 1986. They put emphasis on preventive medicine and primary care, and conduct school health projects and medical care visits. They focus on women’s health, health education for youth, and empowerment of local residents.

Ard El Insan (AEI, Gaza)

An organization which became independent from a Swiss organization in 1997. They became the first NGO to specialize in supporting women and children’s health in the Gaza Strip. They have their own clinic and aim to decrease the children’s common diseases by providing health services, health education and mental support.

[Source: JVC Annual Report 2019]

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