Participants in community-led development projects tell the success story of Dalia Association’s local alternative to harmful international aid agendas.
Dalia Association was announced a winner of the Kalamazoo College Global Prize for Collaborative Social Justice Leadership from the Arcus Center on 11 May 2013. The prize recognized Dalia Association’s groundbreaking work using innovative and collaborative strategies to develop accountability and self-determination in Palestinian civil society.
Global Prize Winners
Dalia Association submitted a film, “The Road to Palestinian Self-Determination” to apply for the prize. The 10-minute film, created by Palestinian filmmaker Sami Alalul, takes a journey led by Palestinian villagers who tell about the association’s projects: the Nu’eima Cooperative Association’s new workshop and showroom for handcrafts; the sheep-raising project of the Auga Cooperative for Rural Development-Jericho District; and Sanour Associations Networking-Jenin District received the “Village Decides” program grant as decided in a community meeting.
The film succeeded in conveying Dalia Association’s success implementing projects that develop and draw on Palestinian insight, leadership and capacity for philanthropy. Sami’s own journey of discovery drives the spirit of the film. “I learned a lot about villages throughout the West Bank and the many negative effects international donors and their ‘development’ projects have had on local communities,” says the filmmaker. “I learned there are alternatives, solutions and most of all, it is Palestinian civil society that can take charge of the development agenda and fix many of the issues facing Palestinian society.”
A sense of possibility and the power within the Palestinian people to make change was the message carried by Saeeda Mousa, executive director of Dalia Associationand Alalul when they traveled to the Arcus Center at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, USA. Dalia Association was one of 15 finalists for the Global Prize selected out of 188 organizations from 23 different countries. Mousa and Alalul were invited to participate in a two-day workshop during which judges and participants selected the final winners.
The positive response to Mousa and Alalul’s presentation about Dalia Association’s philosophy and projects was immediate. Mousa and Alalul explained in detail Dalia Association’s strategies and lessons learned in response to specific questions from the audience. Mousa was deeply encouraged by the participants’ warm reception of Dalia Association’s mission and achievements.
Students and administrators from Kalamazoo College participated in the workshop, along with community volunteers and representatives of 15 social justice organizations from around the world, as well as the members of the jury committee. Angela Davis, the renowned American civil rights activist, was among the jurors.
“We received a lot of praise from our fellow finalists and from members of the audience,” describes Alalul. “I think people saw methods of work which they could apply in their own organizations and lives. What made me happiest was that members of the audience approached me afterwards to share their thoughts and find out more about Dalia’s work and my experiences living in Palestine.”
The workshop provided an opportunity to network with other organizations around the world with a similar commitment to community ownership of development projects. However, even among like-minded organizations, Dalia Association has pushed ahead. “Some aspects of Dalia’s work were new to the participants,” Alalul explains,“especially how Dalia totally tilts the international development agenda on its head.”
At the end of the two days, the audience, online followers and judges chose Dalia Association and two other organizations as winners. “The prize is not the money,” Mousa told the audience and the activists gathered around her. “The prize is being here and raising the voice of the organization, and raising the voice of Palestine in America.”
Dalia Association gained international recognition through winning the Global Prize. According to Mousa, “More than one country will know about Dalia from Palestine and the challenges of the Palestinians under occupation.”
Alalul hopes people will be inspired to get involved in the work of Dalia Association and realize that their resources of skills, ideas and solidarity can help the Palestinian cause. “Moreover,” he adds, “winning the prize gives some acknowledgment to the very hard work Palestinian communities and Dalia staff and volunteers are doing to reverse the damage international aid agencies have done to civil society.”
Joanna E. Springer
Master’s student at the Center for
Public Policy and Administration.
Grant writing intern at Dalia Association.