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Jan 20, 2015

An Interview with TYO's Kids

Sisters Shahd (left) and Bara'a (right)
Sisters Shahd (left) and Bara'a (right)

We're so excited to bring you this interview from the field! Meet Bara'a and Shahd - two sisters who have been attending TYO programs since we first opened our doors! Bara'a and Shahd are both from Khallet al-Amood, the neighborhood where the TYO Center is located. Read on to hear why these sisters keep attending TYO's programming and why their lives have been changed for the better. 

This interview is conducted by Suhad Jabi, TYO's Psychosocial Program Coordinator.


Suhad: Tell me your name and a little bit about yourself.

Bara’a: My name is Bara’a, I am 11 years old and I’m in the fifth grade.

Shahd: My name is Shahd. I’m 8 years old - almost 9 - and I’m in the third grade.


Suhad: And when did you first come to TYO?

Bara’a: I’ve always been coming, every day since I was in preschool.

Shahd: Same, since I was 5 years old.


Suhad: And what do you remember most about your first experience at TYO?

Bara’a: Even now, I always think about Amo Youssef [a TYO Core Program volunteer]. I remember I loved coming to TYO to see Amo Youssef. He was the first person to really support me, and he taught me many things I didn’t know before. He was always smiling and available to help us. The best part of his classes was playing games.

Suhad: What did you enjoy so much about the games?

Bara’a: In the beginning when I came to TYO, I always felt angry and sad during the games because I always lost against my peers, and all I could think about was winning. It was so frustrating that it could ruin my day. With time, Amo Youssef helped me to learn that winning wasn’t the most important thing and that my sadness about winning or losing made me lose out on everything else that day, which I didn’t want.


Suhad: And what about you, Shahd? What do you remember most about your first experience at TYO?

Shahd: Everything I learned with Amo Samer [a TYO Core Program volunteer]. Amo Samer always gave me hints and support on how to succeed in sports, especially the hula-hoop activity. It was the first time someone gave me attention and noticed what I was good at.


Suhad: Imagine your daily life without TYO – what would it be like?

Shahd: I would have nothing to do and nothing to learn. It would be so boring. If there is anything in the world I wish not to happen, it’s that! If there were no TYO, I would have to keep myself distracted with friends in order not to think about it.


Suhad: At home in your neighborhood, you play with other kids in the streets. How is playing with your friends at home different than coming to TYO?

Bara’a: At home, I only see people who I’ve always known and most are my family. Coming to TYO allowed me to meet new people and learn how to make friends. Without TYO, that would never happen for me at home.

Shahd: I'm the same. When I see people at home they are my relatives and it is forced. There’s no option to see them or not. There are no boundaries at home so I have to see them. At TYO, you can choose to meet new people from new and different neighborhoods around the city. Sometimes, someone might not want to meet you. I learned to accept that and how to respect what others want.


Suhad: Who are the friends you have made at TYO?

Bara’a: My best friend is Reem from Balata Refugee Camp and I’m also friends with Raghad from Askar Refugee Camp.

Shahd: Everyone, they’re all my friends!


Suhad: What does everyone at home say about talking to those from the refugee camps?

Bara’a: They tell us not to talk to them. Our families say they are impolite and use bad words, so our parents do not want us to get to know kids from the refugee camps and learn those bad things.

Suhad: Did TYO change your ideas about that?

Bara’a: Yes of course. That kind of thinking isn’t allowed. But TYO didn’t just change how I think about others, it changed how they act towards me. I remember children here used to push me and hit me and insult me because they are from a different neighborhood. But with time, they changed their ideas towards me and my neighborhood, and that gave me the chance to become friends with them.


Suhad: And what about your friends, Reem and Raghad?

Bara’a: When I found out my classmate Raghad was from a refugee camp, I learned that I shouldn’t judge people. Now she is my friend.

Shahd: TYO has helped me at home, too. My best friend used to pick on me and fight to always be ahead of me when we were standing in lines. We used to compete all of the time. But after coming to TYO, I learned that I could talk to her or make an agreement with her so we can both be happy and get what we want.


Suhad: Your schools are separated by gender but at TYO, we mix boys and girls in the same class. Have your experiences at TYO changed your ideas about interacting with boys? Do you fear them?

Bara’a: Yes, now I know boys can be smart and nice sometimes, and at TYO I know that I don’t need to have any fear towards the boys in my class.

Shahd: Any person who grew up with fear will continue to have a feeling of fear, so I should not feel fear towards the boys at all. This is what I learned.


Suhad: We bring many interns from the United States to teach English classes and run other activities. Who do you remember most of those interns?

Bara’a: I loved Claire. She taught me a lot of new words and always helped me with my homework. Before, I had an extremely difficult time reading English in class, but Claire helped me to increase my confidence at school in front of my teacher and classmates.

Suhad: What did you find most interesting about the classes?

Bara’a: I never had the chance before to learn about another culture until our class with Claire. Claire talked a lot about the USA and different activities and games there. I feel that I got familiar with the culture.

Suhad: Do you think learning English is important? Why?

Bara’a: Yes. With Claire I learned to communicate with new people which will help me when I travel to new cities and places in the future.


Suhad: Do you think you’ll travel to many places in the future?

Bara’a: Of course I can travel. Remember you taught us “you can can”? [A lot of laughing.] I learned at TYO that if you want something just do it. Because of TYO I don’t have fear of doing what I want.

Bara'a in sports class in 2012
Bara'a in sports class in 2012
A five-year-old Shahd makes a new friend at TYO!
A five-year-old Shahd makes a new friend at TYO!
The girls come to register for TYO classes in 2011
The girls come to register for TYO classes in 2011
Nov 17, 2014

Entrepreneur Product Launch!

Business owner Huwaida's products: Meera's soaps
Business owner Huwaida's products: Meera's soaps

In August, we introduced you to female entrepreneurs entering their incubation phase with TYO in Palestine. Thanks to your continued support, we're please to share with you an update about our very exciting product launch and networking event held in Ramallah in October. In preparation for their first official product launch, entrepreneurs worked to perfect their English to effectively pitch their business and explain how their products were made. They also received support in best practices in branding, and how to further improve their product packaging.

As a part of the product launch in Ramallah, each businesswoman was given a booth to display her products, services, samples and marketing materials. Guests at the event were able to rate the businesses on a score card based on the following criteria:

  • Business presentation and appeal
  • Logo and brand identification 
  • Packaging and marketing materials
  • Pricing
  • Quality
  • Creativity
  • Memorability 
  • Taste

Take a look at the photos from the event. TYO-Nablus is so proud of the strides these budding entrepreneurs have made!

Entrepreneur Ghada offers samples of her mushrooms
Entrepreneur Ghada offers samples of her mushrooms
Somood's business, Shal Embroidery, was a hit!
Somood's business, Shal Embroidery, was a hit!
Trainer Ahmad Abu Baker scores each business
Trainer Ahmad Abu Baker scores each business
Nahawand explains Play with Numbers to a crowd
Nahawand explains Play with Numbers to a crowd
Officers from the US Consulate & Magic Design mugs
Officers from the US Consulate & Magic Design mugs
Oct 21, 2014

Great Role Models

Volunteer Fatima helps facilitate imaginative play
Volunteer Fatima helps facilitate imaginative play

"Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate."              - Annonymous

At TYO, we strive to provide children and youth with a safe space to learn and grow. In order to help facilitate this learning, we rely heavily on the university-aged youth volunteers to support the work done by our teachers and international interns. These volunteers become real role models in the classrooms for the children who come to TYO and therefore, we aim to pick some of the most outstanding volunteers to join our program. Over the last year, we have been interviewing volunteers as part of our Youth In Focus series on our blog. We want to share some highlights from these interviews as a reminder of the people on-the-ground who help us bring smiles to our children: 

"My interest in volunteering at TYO stemmed from my positive experiences as a child beneficiary at TYO. When I was younger I used to attend classes at TYO. I was in a bad situation and frustrated at that time, but TYO opened new doors for me to have my hope in life back again. At the time I really appreciated that TYO accepted me as a girl. I just wanted to be able to play the same as boys, and was so thankful to find TYO in a culture that doesn’t allow the girls to play out of the homes as boys do" - Mayyada

"I’ve been volunteering at TYO since 2008 and keep coming back because I feel the program really adds to my skills. Aside from gaining skills to benefit my own future, I also really enjoy volunteering at TYO because it gives me the opportunity to serve my community." - Rakan

"What really caught my eye about [the program] was the chance to work with disadvantaged children from within my community. I like the idea of being able to make a positive impact on my community while at the same time being able to train myself for the future to be a good father." - Sameer

Prior to coming to TYO, I’d only been exposed to academic life and had never taken on a real leadership role, but being at TYO I was able to see that not only was I contributing, but I was surrounded by many other women who were working hard to improve their community. Through this, I really began to see how important my role is as a woman and that I can make a difference." - Mari

Stay tuned for next report, and on behalf of refugee children and youth of Nablus, thanks for your continued support!

Volunteer Ramsis is proud of his kids' projects
Volunteer Ramsis is proud of his kids' projects
Volunteer Asmaa and the boys give a big thumbs up!
Volunteer Asmaa and the boys give a big thumbs up!
Volunteer Linda helps a child in the computer lab
Volunteer Linda helps a child in the computer lab
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