Once Upon A Diaspora

Once Upon A Diaspora

July- August 2017 Newsletter

20 September 2017

Once upon a Diaspora


On the 7th of July, Team Dalia hurried to the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center to prepare for the round table discussion on engaging the Palestinian Diaspora; Aisha carrying her freshly picked figs from her grandfather’s tree placed it on the table, while Rasha set out to connect the LCD projector. Ximena Osorio, an intern from the Palestinian Diaspora in Peru, was also busy preparing her presentation. She came to Dalia to research Palestinian Diaspora engagement in community development between theory and practice. As the audience came in, many of them with different accents, particularly American, savored the freshly picked figs. Ximena started with her presentation, giving us great examples from other Diasporas in the world on how they engage their own diaspora to give back to their countries. For example, the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America creates an annual soccer tournament in order to fundraise for supporting the community in Ethiopia and providing scholarships to young Ethiopians.

Later Jessica Gutierrez, a volunteer at Dalia, presented her research on the Palestinian Diaspora: Amidst Acculturation and Transnational Identity in Latin America. She pointed out how the Diaspora youth are looking for modern ways to give back to Palestine, and how they believe their giving should go directly to the communities, for grassroots development.

Indeed, a community foundation, such as Dalia, is a great way for Diaspora to give to Palestine because we ensure that the community controls the grants and they decide on their priorities. We believe this is how we can create an active civil society that have a say in their own durable development, as well as self-governance. 

Afterwards, Yaser Shalabi gave us a case study on his town’s experience, Mazra’ Al Sharqiyeh, in engaging the Palestinian Diaspora, particularity the ones living in the U.S.A. He gave examples of how the Diaspora from the village, always contribute to the people in the village, providing scholarships for students who wish to continue with their education, and helping with the expenses of paving new roads. In fact, this particular Diaspora is very active; they built an entire football (soccer) stadium from donated money, all for the benefit of their community.

A week later, Team Dalia continued this discussion in a brainstorming session. Again, Aisha proudly brought a batch of freshly picked figs. As the participants arrived, many joked that they only came back for Aisha’s figs. The session started by splitting up the participants into two groups to discuss an action plan to better involve the Palestinian Diaspora, particularly the youth. At the end the participants, mainly children of the Diaspora themselves, confirmed the need to create a coalition to turn the ideas discussed into actions. The objective of this coalition is to enable the Palestinian Diaspora to connect with their homeland to support community development, and hopefully to eat more of Aisha’s figs. Who can say no to these delicious bundles of joy?

If you want to be a part of this coalition, we would love to hear from you. Contact [email protected] 


Community Programs

WSW Program

Made by women in Palestine

It was a very hot day, 25 of July, in fact one of the hottest days so far in this heat wave hitting Palestine. Team Dalia and two volunteers met a bus carrying women groups from the south of Hebron as part of the Women Supporting Women Program (WSW). We met half way through the journey, heading towards the Jordan Valley. The women greeted us with enthusiasm and wide smiles. The bus resonated with loud conversations and funny jokes as they offered us delicious baked bread in olive oil from the morning’s bake. Lucky us! This trip with the purpose of linking the women of Tawani, Susya, Um El Kheir, and Imfaqara, to learn from successful examples in wool production and agro-ecology farming. The Rural Women Association of south of Hebron, voted earlier this year to implement two solutions: the first being the production of Palestinian wool to provide income for these women, and the second establishing an agro-ecology farm to provide organic healthy food for that region.

Our first stop to the Bedouin community of Hathrura, around Khan Al Ahmar region, included climbing over a highway barricade, because the Israeli Occupation is creatively engineering ways to make mobility hard for this community. We were welcomed with delicious sweet mint black tea. Then, we were guided to a small grey white shed that stored all of their beautiful handmade wool. Each woman from the WSW program admired the carpets, and the little fuzzy Christmas themed animals. With henna-covered hands, these women felt the details of the weaving and rubbed the textures with their fingers, a faint smile visited their faces. This was how the local women of Hathrura provided income to themselves and their community, as each of these items were sold locally and globally. After this display, the women gathered in a tent to discuss technical and business matters. They were eager to learn about the details of managing such a business. Zeinab from Jiftlik, the local artist who is providing training to the women of south of Hebron on wool making, using natural dyes, sensed some lack of confidence in the women. She immediately stood up and gave them a pep talk, encouraging them to continue with their creative idea, reminding them that it was their choice, as they and their community voted for this idea. Many women nodded in agreement.

As they were entering the bus and crossing over that annoying barricade, Aisha from Dalia, expressed her excitement over buying handmade wool socks from them. “Our office gets really cold in winter! Can you imagine how these socks will keep my feet warm?”  The women laughed and said they can’t think of socks right now because of this heat wave! They were right, the mere thought that it could get cold right now seemed impossible.

The bus proceeded through the valley, and at the sign that states arriving at sea level zero, the driver took a right and over a bumpy road reached the Bedouin community of the Dead Sea. Women squinted their eyes from the vengeful sun that reflected from the white brown sand and rocky area as they got off the bus. Here, the local women showed us the variety of works they do with the wool, some included rugs, others laptop bags. This community integrated hip colors in their works making it very attractive to the eye. Another session of questions and expertise exchange took place. Then breakfast was served. We had locally baked thin bread (i.e. shrak) and thyme (za’tar) with olive oil, vegetables, local white cheese and yogurt. More discussion took place over coffee and tea. Some women decided among themselves to take certain responsibilities to make this business a success. They distributed roles for maximum efficiency.   

This field trip was very efficient with time, some of the women had a wedding to attend to, but this did not stop them from their excitement to learn, especially the younger women. They were very observant and absorbed all the details they were given. We stopped by Zeinab’s house in Jiftlik to cool off and have some juice. She showed us some of her works: jewelry made from recycled materials, and coffee made from date seeds. This time, the conversation with Zainab was more personal, as they discussed more technical matters and financial matters. She had an answer to every question and always encouraged them to proceed with their idea.

“Imagine how beautiful it would be to see a bundle of yarn with a label of “Made in Palestine” on it, Aisha said as she joined Zainab in motivating the women. Nods were seen here and there.

The bus took us to our last stop, Al Aqrabaniyeh village. We met Iman, a proud leader in her community. We were welcomed in the women’s association building. Iman shared with us details of her journey to establish an agro-ecology farm, sadly, we couldn’t visit the farm because it was summer, and nothing was planted. She faced many obstacles, especially among men in the community, because of the patriarchal nature of the Palestinian society. Despite all these obstacles, she overcame them, and thrived in her community. She currently sells her products with the local company Adel. When Iman detailed her personal experience many women were enlightened to learn that the similar conditions they are going through right now can be overcome, they only needed to be patient.

We hurried back to the bus, so that the women can catch the wedding. Some slept on the way, as the bus drove back through the Jordan valley. Team Dalia descended halfway through the journey of return, we were bid farewell from motivated women, who want to take control of their own life and to be involved in decision-making processes that affect their lives.

For more pictures click here.


Tawani agro-ecology farm

The women of Tawani from the south of Hebron are in the process of establishing an agro-ecology farm to provide healthy organic food for the local community. Agro-ecology expert, Saad Dagher, paid them a couple of visits to help build the farm, and provided them with advice and technical know-hows.

Check out some tips for building an agro-ecology farm in the captions of this album and this album.


IBDA’ Youth Program

As usual, we are following up with the youth to ensure they are successfully implementing their initiatives.


Photo from: Min Khayrik Ya Quds

The youth group from Love Syndrome organized a bazaar in Beit Hanina to sell the handmade products of children with disabilities, especially with Down Syndrome. This initiative aims at including children with special needs, to build their capacity to produce crafts and art products for sale.



We organized a volunteer day to help the community in Fasayil continue building their community park.


Jerusalem Suburbs

We signed two grant agreements, one with the youth in Arab Al Jahaleen’s Bedouin community, for their initiative of “Ma Kan Fi W Hala Fi” (there was nothing, but now there is everything), which will focus on raising awareness of the children in the community through cultural and entertainment activities. The other agreement was signed with the youth of Al Eizariyeh for the initiative “Al Shari’ Al Akhdar” (The Green Street) which will focus on creating a green, healthy social space for the local community; both will also include a cafeteria or a mobile food kiosk that provides healthy nutritious meals.


Central Gaza

We signed two grant agreements with the youth in central Gaza, Diala Style and Dairna Store. The first initiative focuses on the design and marketing of clothing by Palestinian designers. The idea is to invest in the creativity of young women in Gaza and to promote the company to become a brilliant name in the field of design and marketing emerging from the central region.  The second initiative is an economic, social investment in local environmental resources through the recycling and manufacturing of raw materials available in the environment of Deir El Balah city. The products will be sold as high quality for use in homes, parks, kindergartens, and other uses.


North Gaza

Wood crafts, formerly known as Social Land, has been equipped with the tools to set the shop, and create the wooden materials from pallets, including TV tables, painting frames, and other. The Happy Zone initiative is also in the manufacturing phase, as they are using pieces of cloth to create Lap Desks, pregnancy pillows, baby cots and other materials.


From our volunteers

Hi there! I am Karima.

I left Palestine about one month ago after an exciting time volunteering with Dalia in the village of Mazari Al Nubani, north of Ramallah.  Basically, my 4-week mission was first to create a flyer together with the Youth Organization to promote alternative tourism in the village that is looking forward to turning it into an eco-village, and then to arrange a village tour for young Europeans and North American volunteers from FFIPP (an Educational Network for Human Rights in Palestine/ 1948 Palestine).

Therefore, I travelled through time while discovering the history of the village testified by its old buildings and architecture, met lovely families and members of the Youth Organization. I also participated in a one-day trip to the Jordan valley with team Dalia and a group of women from the south of Hebron to visit inspiring Bedouin families, and women village actors, working for local community and economic development. Finally, I enjoyed the well-known Palestinian hospitality culture, and kindness that survive and resist with all smiles, pride and determination, despite all heavily-armed efforts to hide, erase or replace them. Beyond these practical aspects, this volunteering experience certainly broadened my understanding of the situation in Palestine under Israeli occupation. Each and every moment I shared with Palestinians was an chance for me to grasp the ins and outs of this complex and vast system of oppression, may it be observing or discussing architecture, politics, education, community development and diaspora, BDS, local economy, agro-ecology, water issues, youth concerns, among other topics. For sure, this experience is among the most rewarding. I thank Dalia Association for this great opportunity and the Youth Organization and the people of Mazari Al Nubani for their warm welcome. I sincerely wish you all the best (and hope to be back sooner than later!)


Training in Nepal

The Women Fund, Tewa in Nepal, hosted Ahlam from team Dalia, to receive a one-week study tour on community grants and funds management, tools on local fundraising and mobilizing local resources, as well as human resource management. This community foundation supports women to organize, raise their voices collectively and transform discriminatory policies, systems, norms and practice through funding and capacity development of local women’s organizations.

We believe this kind of linking between Tewa and Dalia is a great method for resource and expertise exchange. Dalia hopes to continue networking with other similar community foundations around the world to grow and learn from others’ experiences. This will reflect in our work in Palestine, especially to develop creative tools to enhance community philanthropy, and engage the Palestinian civil society in self-determination using local resources.

Ahlam says that this journey was very exciting and useful, as she sensed the spirit of giving among the Nepalese people in general and Tewa staff in particular.

You can read more about Ahlam’s journey in this link.


Community Philanthropy

Making a community difference with food!

Who thought that a burrito can eventually make a community difference? Well at Dalia, it does!

In an effort to mobilize our local resources, Dalia partnered with Dimitri Karkar, owner of Dimitri's Kitchen, where he cooked delicious Mexican food, and donated the profit to Dalia. This money will help fuel Dalia’s community controlled grant making programs: Women Supporting Women, The Village Decides, and IBDA’ youth programs.

Follow Dalia to see upcoming events and let your taste buds make a difference!


The Education Fund

Meet the 10 students who have been awarded a scholarship from the Education Fund.

We would like to take this chance to thank everyone who contributed to the fund! You are truly awesome! These students are grateful and so are we.


We are still waiting for you to help us unlock the treasure box!

Do you believe in the right for Palestinians to control their own resources for a vibrant civil society? Do you believe in our right to use community-controlled grants to achieve our needs and priorities?

At the Dalia Association, Palestine’s only community foundation, we mobilize and properly utilize resources necessary to empower a vibrant, independent and accountable civil society, through community controlled grant making. We have the opportunity to receive a grant to match up a $1000 U.S dollars, meaning that every time we receive $1000 donation, the donor gives us another $1000.

You can help us double the amount by opening a grant in your name, your company’s name, a family member, a loved one, your village, or a specific cause you believe in such as women’s rights, agriculture, empowering the youth, among many others.   

You can be the map that leads us to our promised treasure. This grant will help us with our work in mobilizing local resources to achieve community -controlled development.

For more information, send us an email at [email protected], or give us a call at +972-298-9121