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Nov 26, 2018

A Space to Learn, Play, and Grow!

Raneen
Raneen

TYO is in the seventh session of the Academic Support Program for students between ages 9-14. What started out as a pilot project for the residents of the Khallet El Amoud neighborhood, the Academic Support Program has been scaled up with incredible success to welcome children from the wider Nablus community, including all four of the refugee camps in the city. This affords the children of the most underserved communities with an opportunity to learn, play, and grow through TYO’s interactive approach to education. New beginnings are also an important time for reflection. As such, we invited Raneen, who is entering her fourth session of the program, to share her thoughts and experiences at TYO.

 

Welcome back! Can you tell me about yourself and how you got started at TYO?

I am eleven years old and in the sixth grade. I come from the Khallet El Amoud neighborhood and I am the oldest of five siblings. I have two younger brothers and two younger sisters. I started out at TYO in the Core Program and am now in the Academic Support Program. My parents noticed how my grades in Math and English started to improve, so they decided to enroll all four of my brothers and sisters at TYO.

It seems that TYO has become a family affair! How has TYO impacted your family?

My mom comes from a village nearby and my dad is from Nablus. My mother attended school until the eighth grade and my father attended school until the fifth grade. My mom is a housewife and my dad is a worker in his friend’s carpentry shop. My mother registered me in the program because I had trouble with English and Math. My parents cannot help my siblings and I with our homework and they do not have the money to pay for a tutor. TYO is where my brothers, sisters, and I come to learn and play.

Have you noticed any particular changes in yourself since starting at TYO?

Before I came to TYO, I was very shy and did not feel comfortable speaking in the classroom. Now I am the first student to answer questions in class. I even volunteered to participate in this interview! This confidence came from being able to play games and activities with other students and volunteers. I also like learning English and practicing math, especially multiplication.

What are some of the activities you participated in at TYO that helped you build your confidence?

When the weather gets really hot, we go outside and have water balloon competitions in teams. This is definitely one of my favorite games because I get to make new friends from different neighborhoods and villages. I have made friends from my neighborhood that I never spoke to at school, as well as the Balata camp and the Old City. I really like how TYO teaches us activities that use materials I can easily find at home. After I learn a new game, I teach it to my siblings so we can play it together. The fisherman game is really simple to set up and I love to play it at my house with my brothers and sisters.

You mentioned how you really enjoy playing the games you learn at TYO in your home, why is that important to you?

I usually only leave my house to attend school and the Academic Support Program at TYO. Before learning new games that I can play at home, I was bored and my house is very crowded. I study between 3-4 hours a night when I am at home. In Palestine, we have many tests at school, which does not leave much time for students to play. My house is very small, we only have two rooms, one for my parents, and one for the children. I am not allowed to leave and play in the streets like some of the other kids in my neighborhood, because my parents do not think it is safe. TYO is a safe space where I can be a kid.

Can you give me some more examples of how TYO is different from your experiences at school?

I really enjoy coming to TYO because it is a completely different way of learning than at school. At school, we have to remember everything we learn by studying with our books.  When I am at TYO, we learn by playing fun games. The students at school are always shouting at each other and it can be very distracting for the teachers and the class. There are fewer students at TYO and the classrooms are much bigger, so students have more space to speak and do activities.

Do you have a favorite memory since starting your journey at TYO?

All of the volunteers at TYO are so nice and helpful, but there was one volunteer from the Academic Support program that I liked the most. She took the time to help me work through the challenges I had in English and Math. Her patience and kindness is what really encouraged me to keep coming back to TYO.

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Oct 11, 2018

"I Still Have Hope" - Ikhlas's Story

Ikhlas
Ikhlas

TYO's Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneur project seeks to empower women entrepreneurs and provide them with the tools and skills needed to grow profitable and sustainable businesses that are scalable and facilitate job creation. The entrepreneurship training and development programming that Tomorrow’s Youth Organization offers is both timely and highly sought after. TYO’s entrepreneurs are strong, forward-thinking women who face countless adversities, but seek to create and maintain successful businesses with hopes of investing heavily in their communities and education. Today, we interview Ikhlas, an entrepreneur from Salem village outside of Nablus whose insatiable drive is very much attributed to her desire to support and financially contribute to both her family and her community. Ikhlas is a visually-impaired woman with a Master’s degree from An-Najah University. Our interview was conducted entirely in English.

1. Tell me about yourself and your family. Where are you from? How many people are in your family?

My name is Ikhlas and I am from Salem village. I was born in 1987 as a blind woman to a poor family. I have three brothers and two sisters. One of my brothers, Mohammed, is blind like me. We all live with our mother, as our father was killed in 2004. I come from a very loving family who loved me and gave me tremendous amounts of love and care. I have a special bond with my mom. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature and a Master’s degree in English Translation and Applied Linguistics. I am an advocate for disability rights and am a member of four disability organizations. I have represented Palestine through a United Nations conference in Malta in 2011 and traveled to the United States in 2012 through Stars of Hope.

2. How, when, and why did you learn English?

Given that I was born blind, I attended a girls’ boarding school in Ramallah, where I learned British English. Knowing English gives me a highly competitive edge in the workplace. I also highly enjoy the language.

 3. Tell me about the business you are developing?

I want to open an educational center for both sighted and visually-impaired people. I would like to teach people how to comprehend and speak English. As a blind woman, it is important for me to have my own business. Palestinian law does not protect disabled people from discrimination, so it is very difficult for me to secure employment. I can not only help myself by opening my own business, but can also support my family and eventually provide jobs to other blind people.

 4. What are you learning in the Women Entrepreneurs program?

When I first came to the business development trainings, I had no idea what a business was or how I could run my own business. I had random ideas in my mind, but now they are becoming more organized. With the expertise of the trainers, I am able to organize my thoughts and generate my ideas. I am learning how to refine the service I am offering, develop a business plan, incorporate branding and marketing strategies into my business plan and so much more. I am excited to learn how to conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis as a way to study both my internal and external environment as a business owner.

5. What are the challenges you face as someone who is blind? How do you overcome those challenges?

As a blind woman, I suffer from a great deal of discrimination. I was treated very badly throughout all of my schooling as a child. I have been treated very badly by people in my society, but have always had my family as my backbone and primary support system. I am blessed to have such a supportive family and I seek to open a business to support them and other disabled people who are not able to secure employment. Sometimes, I feel weak and I weep. After my father died, our family became even poorer than we were before. Despite it all, I still have hope and a tremendous will to live.

Aug 27, 2018

Lonely No More: An Interview With Minna

Minna
Minna

Minna is a 3rd-grade student from the neighbourhood of Khallet al Amood. She heard about TYO from her friends at school. The students were enrolled in the Core Program and told Minna about the activities they do and how much fun they have at TYO. After hearing about the opportunity to play with other kids her age, Minna decided to register for the Early Childhood Education Program.

Hi, Minna! Why did you decide to enroll in the Core Child Program at TYO?

The main reason I decided to join TYO is there is no one to play with at home. There is a large age gap between me and my sister. She comes home after 5 pm because of work, so I spent a lot of time at home without someone to play with. I wanted to be in a place where I am safe and can play with other children. I always want to come to TYO. I have perfect attendance because there is someone to help me with my homework, especially in English and Arabic, and we do fun activities in the classroom.

How are your experiences at TYO difference than school?

At school, there are many girls in the classroom and they shout to be heard over each other. At TYO, everything is very organized and disciplined. The teachers at TYO respect children very much. I want to be a doctor when I grow up because I learned at TYO that we need to help others. I can help others, especially poor people, by contributing my time to help those in need.

What have you learned at TYO?

We are learning how to be responsible inside the classroom and how to be a leader. The two best students chosen by the teacher will take responsibility and lead the class for the day. Last week, while we were playing outside, we learned about cooperation and sharing. While we are playing, we shouldn’t fight and should play in a peaceful way. We should play for fun, not as a competition.

Have you noticed any particular changes in yourself since starting the Core Child Program?

I used to be lonely and wouldn’t talk much because there was no one to talk to at home. Now I have started to be more social and to play with more kids. Core classes are only 2 hours, but this is time for me to play with other kids.

I also used to be bullied by other kids and they would hit me. I think I had a weak personality that would attract other kids to bother me. Now I think I have a stronger personality. I am more confident and have a stronger sense of self-worth.  I can find support and can find someone to help me if something happens in the street.

What has been your favourite experience at TYO?

I love the Fishing Game the most! All the students move around the classroom like they are in the water. Two kids have small balls that they toss at the moving students. If a ball taps a student, they are caught like a fish. We must be quiet and concentrate on how to stay away from the balls to stay in the game. The purpose of the game is to help us learn to be patient and practice our discipline. The students catching the fish must concentrate. It is a very fun game!

Will you keep coming to TYO in the future?

Yes, I will keep coming to TYO forever.

 
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