By Saja Shami- Community Programs Officer
On the fourth of March, we were in the village of Al Mughayer, west of Ramallah. Our meeting with the local youth took place in a humble room that later turned into a local bookstore after the implementation of the IBDA’ Youth Program. Following the meeting, we took pictures with the blossoming almond trees on the side of the road. At that time, we didn’t realize that this would be one of our last physical gatherings, as that day marked the start of the lockdown from the pandemic. Nothing was as it seemed, and there was a general sense of frustration in the air, coupled with fear of the unknown. “What comes next”? “When will all this end”? “Tomorrow the nightmare will end, and the sun will shine brighter than ever”. This sentence swept all social media channels in an attempt to raise hope for the people.
Often times it was much better to live in this darkness than to wait for the sun that did not seem to shine. Our responsibility as an organization didn’t stop at standing on our own two feet, we didn’t have the luxury to give in, therefore we continued to deliver and adapt, and this included the IBDA’ Youth Program. We had to employ different and suitable methods, which wasn’t easy, we faced so many challenges, but we were able to complete the mission: launching the program in the community, reaching new youth groups, coming up with suitable community initiatives, holding public voting days, providing all kinds of support, from material to technical, and finally implementing these initiatives.
Later, the leaders showcased their initiatives in a local market organized by Dalia. On paper, the above mission and steps seem easy, but it was difficult to implement; everything was closed, the economic situation was deteriorating day by day, and the local purchasing power was in flux. Out of the fruits of our labor, 11 initiatives in the West Bank and Gaza saw the light. This was achieved through the collective efforts of our partners and supporters: DROSOS FOUNDATION, Ruwwad-Palestine, YWCA, Nawa for Culture and Arts Association, and others. The impact of the program goes beyond these 11 initiatives; the journey begins with the individuals and ends with a new meaningful sense of spirituality entrenched within them. Barriers were overcome, as they trusted themselves, their abilities, and their newly gained skills.
What we are seeing after the launch of the various initiatives and the joy of achievement is greater participation of youth, who seek to go through the experience again, armed with the various skills they have developed, which enriched them and opened the path amidst all these challenges.
Despite everything, striving to adapt in every situation is a skill that Palestinians have acquired as a means of steadfastness.