New season, new gardens and participants - same idea and commitment!
After a difficult winter with stormy weather and damage to our project, a new phase started with your support and a generous donation from Lush, currently enableling us to prepare another 9 gardens.
Dear supporter of our community in Deheishe,
This last winter brought us many unexpected things; a heavy blizzard but little rain, great damage to all gardens but also overwelming support from our community and a continuation of our partnership with Lush. Though these last things are very positive for our rooftop garden project and the new participants, the little rain and the problems with the UNRWA make many Palestinian refugees cautious about the coming months... The harvest is expected to be less this year because of the little rain and food prices are very likely to rise. Meanwhile the shrinking budget of UNRWA leads to fears of further cuts in services and less families that will be able to count on food assistance from the agency. This takes place while research has shown more refugee families are getting more and more food INsecure!
Karama continues to look for solutions that raise our community to more self support and independence and less relience on food aid from outside. That is why it remains crucial to bring back agriculture into the lives of the refugees. With your help this is possible and currently we are on the brick of including more women in our project. Lush Charity Pot UK has pledged new funds to include another 9 women in this initiative. Soon they will be climbing on their roofs, watering their plants and seeing their harvest grow!
But before this is possible, Yasser has made sure the new constructions will fit our needs and will offer enough protection and opportunities, while remaining small and light enough for the women's roofs. Also the trainer has been selected who will assist in the delivery of the materials and will guide the women during the first months. As soon as all the participants are selected they will hold their first meeting together - that will be followed by many more to be a central tool in their empowerment!
Your support remains very much appreciated and needed, also in the form of sharing this project online with your friends and connections! In addition, donations will be very well used in this project. With 50 dollars Karama can provide better seeds for the participants while 100 dollars will keep the trainer involved for another week in the project to support the women! Any amount will help us to grow this project and help families become more food security while1500USD will include a 10th family in this project!
Keep an eye on our Facebook page if you are keen to see more photo's!
Thank you for being part of this project and the support you give to the women in our society.
Look out for our next update were we will introduce you to some of the new participants!
Dear Karama Supporters!
With this small report we are eager to give you an update on the progress made in the last weeks. Several of you have reached out to us and showed your support – either through donating or asking about the progress. We at Karama really appreciate your help and your efforts to stay in touch – thank you so much! Hopefully this small note – and especially the photos – will keep you connected to our efforts in Deheishe and the work we are trying to do in our society. Do not hesitate to let us know what you think – email, Facebook responses and comments on GlobalGiving will be read by us!
At the end of October we started a new fundraising campaign to create a better protected shield around three rooftop gardens. The plants of these women were more affected by the wind and this experience made Karama realize the gardens could be much for efficient when the cover works as a green house. The previous winter, which normally starts here in December, saw less growth in the gardens than we had hoped. How could we improve this, was the question in our organization. The price of vegetables is often rising in the winter months. Especially this year, as farmers experienced worse weather conditions leading to less harvest, the price of daily used vegetables like tomatoes have again gone up.
The innovative solution we came up with for the women was the creation of an improved greenhouse around the garden! Thicker plastic and a wooden frame makes sure all the heat stays in, while the sun can still reach the garden. With your help we have already been able to fund some of the constructions, though more is needed! In the past weeks we continued to build and take care of our gardens. By now this has led to great growth, as the women were able to keep much higher temperatures inside. The lettuce grew much quicker than normally and also the green beans and cucumbers climbed high in the air. In the new construction, the tubes are lower enabling a more efficient use of the space available. Check out the pictures to see this with your own eyes – the green bean and cucumbers plants eagerly use the robes to climb up and find their way through the whole greenhouse. Now the expected harvest is much larger than we would normally achieve on such a small space!
This year we also experiment with potatoes in the rooftop garden at Karama – so we can hopefully add this stock to the rest of the gardens next season. Starting with some pieces of potatoes on the bottom of a folded woollen sack, we continue to add soil to the sack as the plants are branching out. The sack, that can be unfolded until 1,5 meter high, will allow the potato plants to grow higher will getting roots along this whole height. The roots that will grow in the full height of the sack will deliver much more harvest than grown in a normal tube or field. Take a look at the pictures with this report to see how the plant is growing.
Now the first cucumbers could be eaten by the families this week – a great first result of our hard work. The coming weeks will hopefully give more harvest, tomatoes, green beans and peppers are expected later this year. We will keep you updated when the women will be able to make the first meals from their rooftop production – they are looking very much forward to this and we hope you will too!
Donations are still very much needed to fund the changes made. Your help is much appreciated by all of us in Deheishe – we send you a big thank you for your support!
Dear Karama Supporter!
This new report will update you on the latest developments in Karama's rooftop gardens project, that continues to bring fresh produce to tens of families in refugee camps in Palestine. On the flat roofs of several houses, Karama placed a construction of tubes with soil and an innovative irrigation system. Through learning-by-doing and by exchanging with each other, the women involved were able to let their gardens flourish and supplement their families diet with fresh peppers, tomatoes, courgette, beans, onions and fruits. Now we are preparing for the winter season, we are urgently seeking a small amount of funds to help two families make their gardens better protected!
With this initiative Karama is continuously committed to make our community aware of the importance of our environment and healthy food. Care for nature and attention for the benefits of organic nutrition are important values this project aims to communicate. Financial difficulties and the daily struggles under occupation make families with young children often ignore the importance of a healthy diet. While sugary candies are plenty available at a cheap price, the prices of daily essentials like vegetables and fruit have risen significantly in the last year, making a healthy diet not a high priority for most families. But the attention this project gave and still gives to growing fresh vegetables made people in the community again aware of the importance of a healthy and nutritional diet.
Additionally the gardens have many benefits for the women and children involved, who were able to release some of the tension and stress through agricultural activities. Several women stated they very much enjoy to spend time in their gardens, because it gives them a feeling of usefulness and self-worth again. Seeing the plants grow, produce a tasteful harvest and benefit their children has contributed to a more positive outlook on life. “For me it’s a place of calmness and happiness”, says one of the participants, “and after seeing the daily progress the plants up here make, I hope to transfer this new positivity inside me to my children”.
This project is taking root at a time when many independent sources stress how the Israeli occupation continues to burden the daily lives of all Palestinians. A new report released this week by the World Bank stressed again how much the development of our agricultural sector is limited by the Israeli restrictions, meaning a loss of millions of income every year. (See link below for report) Especially the Israeli control of Area C, which represents 61% of the West Bank and contains important natural resources, prohibits the Palestinians from working on their land and generating income from e.g. agriculture and mining. The inhabitants of the refugee camps lost access to agricultural land as well, while many used to find income or employment in this sector. They are currently threatened by no stable source of income but it is clear innovate agriculture does offer opportunities in the camps as well. To rise above this situation we can use the tools and resources we have right now to strive to be more self-supportive and become less dependent on aid from the UNRWA and others. This project helps to attain this both practically and by appealing to the outlook of the people involved.
After the summer, Karama is now arranging for the winter season and we still need all the support you can give! Currently the gardens are being prepared to plant the winter vegetables and some gardens are in need of small maintenance. The last months showed a few gardens were too little protected against the wind from between the houses and need extra support to protect the plants. Though several families are able to invent and construct some adjustment themselves, two families are currently practically unable to make these alterations. Karama therefore already agreed to help construct a wooden “cage” around the frame with tubes, in order to project the plastic cover while still allowing the sun to reach the plants. As we are currently working on this, donations are very much needed to help these two families prepare for the winter season! A small contribution could already help to purchase the needed materials.
Moreover, Karama continues to look for ways to expand this idea to more refugee families so many more can use their own skills to support themselves. Several more women are waiting to get introduced to the work of gardening and we hope to welcome them in our project soon. With your donation this could be possible! Do not hesitate to reach out to us and we wish to thank you very much for the support you continue to give!!
This month we celebrated the first anniversary of our Rooftop Garden Project! One year ago Karama Organization was able to bring this long kept idea into practice and we did continue to expend it in the last year. Please find here our news update to inform all our supporters through Global Giving of the most recent developments in Karama!
In March 2012 we started this initiative with the first donation from the USA. From then on fourteen families in Deheishe have been benefiting from already two harvests, and the third one is taking root quickly on their roofs. Take a look at the pictures with this article to see the harvest from this month! The growing plants are being supported by additional robes, connected to the frame. In this way the whole structure is being used to the full and the production is more effective. Notice also the watering system, with the tubes allowing for precise and limited watering, helping the rooftop gardens to use the scarce water in a very effective way. The frames are still covered, protecting the plants against the wind and the already burning sun. Now the winter left and the summer is on its way, both the water system and the covers are crucial parts that make this a sustainable project.
Many Palestinians remembered the continuing struggle to use their land on Land Day last weekend, and this project is for many of its participants a constant expression of this struggle. At several places in Palestine, marches were organized and new trees planted, to remember the lost land or protect the land under threat. But as all inhabitants from Deheishe have lost their land, these green places on their roofs are the first experience of the richness of the earth for many families! Through the rooftop gardens these families can restore their connection with the land, while benefiting at the same time from the gifts this soil is giving. The gardens have become a place for relaxing the mind, for both parents and children and many have expressed their joy to witness the cycle from seed till harvest.. Karama is happy international actors through UNRWA have joined the effort to support these families economically and socially. UNRWA has helped to establish more gardens in the refugee camps and your help has been crucial in this as well!
Another important event in this project was the visit from our Karama UK team! They have been working really hard to spread information about Karama in the London area and also raise funds for this great project. All the energy from Anna and Silvia resulted in good contacts with local schools and funds and a sponsorship by organic soap store Lush UK! Who even featured our rooftop gardens in their January newspaper: Lush Times!! It was great to receive this team finally (again) in Deheishe and show them and their friends around. This is what they write in their recent newsletter about their visit:
Anna and Silvia are just back from Palestine. Together with some friends we were travelling around Jordan and Palestine and we could not miss the chance to visit Karama. It was great to catch up with Yasser and make a plan for future activities and projects and see the positive impact of the hard work of volunteers on Karama’s premises. It was lovely to share this experience with friends and we hope that this is the first of many other visits to Palestine and Karama.
With this message we want to thank you all for your past donations and support! Do not hesitate to share this report in your network or contact Karama if you are interested to hear more!
With warm regards from Deheishe,
the whole Karama Team.
The past months were full of intense events for all Palestinians, and also in Deheishe all people were heavily affected by this. With all the recent violence, new intentions and promises, the seasons remain steadfast and the earth continues to provide us with harvest. This year, the rooftop gardens placed by Karama Organization on tens of rooftops in Deheishe and Aida Camp experience their first winter. The seeds for the winter crops are planted, and the plastic covers for extra protection are placed over the metal frame. Now the cover will work as a greenhouse, keeping the warmth inside and the cold out, optimizing the harvest in the coming months.
After seven months in the project, all participants noticed how their lives are affected by the project. One of the participants remembers how she started out skeptical of the idea: “In the beginning I didn't think it would work, but once I tried it I saw it was a good idea and would encourage anyone to have a greenhouse.” Especially after seeing the results, Hajar Hamdan, responsible for a household of five, admits: “It saves a lot of money and it's great to practice being a farmer. It makes me happy working inside our greenhouse.” In a recent CNN news report she adds laughing: “My neighbors often come round asking if we have any to spare, which makes me very popular.”
Her story shows, the gardens are still helping the women and their families to find strength in the chaos of daily life in the camp. Also, the facts prove how families can reduce their expenses on the costly vegetables, saving money for other important costs. This project goal of self-reliance is more urgent than ever, especially now the economic situation in the Palestinian Territories keeps on declining in the past months, and the financial problems of the Palestinian Authority worsen. A recent IMF report warns again for the economic decline in all months of 2012, with raising unemployment levels. The refugees in the camp are hit extra hard by these developments. More than half of the employed adults in Deheishe are working for the PA, explains the UNRWA representative in Deheishe, Mustafa Younis, in an interview with newspaper The National. “Its financial ills have led to a worsening of poverty and unemployment in the camp.”
These warning signs were heard by several organization however, and both the UNRWA and fresh handmade cosmetics store Lush recently pledged to give more funds to our project! With their valuable investment, an additional 65 gardens can be set up, raising more families out of this dangerous situation. Karama Organization is very excited to start the new gardens, especially since families from many camps continue to approach our organization for help. Now, with this great gesture from the UNRWA and Lush finally more people can benefit! Karama is also especially thankful for the team from Karama UK who worked very hard in the United Kingdom to secure funding.
If enough gardens are established in the coming weeks, and the production remains as high as in the first gardens, we can establish a collective association. Then people can sell the vegetables they have left over at a cheaper price, below the current high market price, to let more people benefit in the camps. In this way, a one time investment in the materials for the gardens, has to potential of making a whole community less dependent on outside financial sources!
We still need as many people as possible to be part of this! Anybody could help make these gardens possible, either through donating on the Global Giving website or by spreading the word. Why not share some of the newspaper articles with your friends on Facebook or Twitter? With the links below you can easily share them on-line. And make sure not forget to mention, that currently all monthly recurring donations will still be MATCHED! So your donation will be worth double if you start giving before the 31th of December! Do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you want more information about any of the things mentioned here.
We hope we can count on your support again and from Karama, we sent you a warm thank you for your continuing interest for our projects!
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