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Jun 8, 2017

Water Balloons and Laughter in the Spring

TYO student Yoseph holds his water balloon.
TYO student Yoseph holds his water balloon.

Summer is finally here! Students are wrapping up their exams at school and kids too young for school will finally get to spend more time with their siblings as students exchange classrooms and school books for playtime and soccer balls.

The beginning of summer also signifies the end of a very successful Spring session here at TYO! During our Spring program, TYO’s team of 6 local teachers, 4 international interns, and 62 local volunteers provided early childhood and afterschool educational programming for 264 children! During the 13 week program (February 20- May 18), students had the opportunity to learn, play, and grow together.

As the weather turned from Spring to Summer at the end of the session, one of the students’ favorite activities always involves cooling off with a bit of water. TYO teacher Ahmad developed water activities to help the students increase their teamwork, improve motor skills, and embrace the needs to move and play outside. The sound of the children’s laughter filled the center as they splashed and cheered their teammates toward victory!

At TYO, a child’s right to a childhood is front and center of the educational experience. The joy of feeling cool water splash while filling a bottle using only a small cup or the anticipation of catching a water balloon as your partner steps further away are simple activities that bring smiles to the children’s faces. As each class cheered for their teammates, the freedom of full volume laughs and frequency of high fives being handed out was contagious. The teachers and volunteers laughed, splashed, and cheered right along with their students.

The support provided by donors impact the students, the local volunteers, the local teachers, and the international interns as they share moments of freedom together. As the summer continues and water becomes the vehicle of relief, think of us and imagine hearing students’ laughter and cheers through your windows and relish the feeling of water on your toes. The simple joys in life and childhood in the summer unites us all.

Students Hoor &Yasmine smile with their balloons.
Students Hoor &Yasmine smile with their balloons.
Teacher Ahmad plays balloon toss with his students
Teacher Ahmad plays balloon toss with his students
Water relay races are challenging, but fun!
Water relay races are challenging, but fun!
Student Zain smiles as he runs to fill the bottle.
Student Zain smiles as he runs to fill the bottle.

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May 1, 2017

A Common Vision for Palestinian Entrepreneurs

Main Speakers in Entrepreneurs Symposium
Main Speakers in Entrepreneurs Symposium

A Common Vision for Palestinian Entrepreneurs

This was the headline in Ramallah last month where stakeholders from 80 different sectors including local government, national government, embassies, financial institutions, the chamber of commerce, NGO's, Universities, and many others gathered to discuss the strategy for the way forward.

Some of the findings the panel shared to help define the strategy:

·         Only 19% of women in the workforce, of those only 4% are entrepreneurs

·         90% of women’s income goes directly to support their families’ education and nutrition for children

·         unemployment is extremely high for women when compared to men

One of the leading financial institutions in Palestine,  Asalah Center or Credit and Development, shared findings from their recent 2017 study:

·         Women don’t have access or rights to resources:

o    29% of women are landowners

o   10% own houses

o   4.5% of the agricultural fields are owned by women.

·         Unfair practices in social inheritance and culture stifles women’s independence.

o   Women are accepted to work because of dire economic need, not because it is deemed an equal right

·         61% of women work in the non official sectors and there is no protection for them as labor laws and regulations do not apply

At the end of the panel, recommendations were as follows:

·         Encourage legal registration for the businesses, Government must move forward to adjust laws and regulations.

·         Achieve higher involvement for business women in the organized sector and create a better networking between them and the business sector, Provide entrepreneur women with motivational packages.

·         Establishment of social security fund for entrepreneur women.

·         Donors must support projects and women business through loans and grants as well as build their capacities.

·         Joint effort for best practices.

·         Mobilization and advocacy.

·         Study women needs in refugee camps.

Mar 14, 2017

Positive Community and Success in School: Abdulhamdan's Story

Abdulhamdan, 5th grade student
Abdulhamdan, 5th grade student

Abdulhamdan is 10 years old. He is in 5th grade and lives in Khallet El Amoud, the immediate neighborhood of Tomorrow’s Youth Organization. Many of the neighborhood’s families suffer from very difficult socio-economic conditions and few community resources, but the neighborhood also boasts a very friendly and welcoming community.

Abdulhamdan, along with his older brother Rayeq, were both in dire need of academic support to stay in school. Last year, both enrolled in Tomorrow’s Youth Organization’s Academic Support Program for children from refugee campus and other highly vulnerable neighborhoods of Nablus, and both remained committed throughout the year. Below, Abdulhamdan shares how the academic support program changed his outlook towards school and his future.

Tell us about your first session in the Academic Support Program.

Yes, I was enrolled in the program for the first time last Spring and I loved it! I liked it because every day was fun, no matter what. Of course I knew that class was not only about having fun but learning in the process, and I knew that while I was playing games and enjoying my time at TYO I was also learning so much that would help me in school. In the first session last Spring, I improved in math, Arabic, and English. I think I improved the most in English. I had never been comfortable in school in English class, and I would get so nervous with reading, writing, and speaking in English. Now I feel comfortable in English class, which is great!

Why do you think you improved the most in English? Tell us more about your previous experiences learning English.

For me, I feel like I improved the most in English because the Academic Support Program teachers and volunteers were always so willing to help us and they gave us each attention as individuals, which is often missing in school. In school, there are so many students in class that it’s impossible for the teacher to really give individual attention and answer our  questions. But at TYO, I feel like I can ask anything and get help – and so now I do! I’m so happy now that I’m improving in English.

What is your favorite part of the Academic Support Program?

Last summer, I was in Ms. Mahfuza’s class and it was so much fun! My favorite part of the day is the ice-breaker activity. One student goes out of the classroom, and when they do the rest of us in class stand in a circle and choose someone to be the “leader.” The leader then leads the class in some kind of movement like clapping or snapping and all of us do it in unison. The student outside comes in and has to guess who the leader is. We laugh so much when we play this game and I think we all get better at it every day, so we just keep playing! I feel like after that we’re in such a good mood and I feel good to start working on my homework, even if it’s difficult. I have made a lot of new friends at TYO doing fun activities like this. Most of all, I’ve become a lot closer with other students in my class who go to my public school. Before joining TYO, I’d see them in the hallways but I didn’t know them well and didn’t know how to ask them to be my friends. But last fall, I saw them all the time at school and we always said hi and spent time together! Having friends makes me feel a lot better about being in school.

The volunteers who help Ms. Mahfuza are great too. Most of all I love Waed who always tutors me. She is so kind and patient, and she never gets angry no matter how many times she has to explain and re-explain new lessons to us. Even if we ask her a hundred questions, she answers them with a smile and never gets frustrated like others do. She is the best!

What do you hope to work on in upcoming sessions of the Academic Support Program? 

Right now, I hope to improve my math skills the most next session. Most of all, I want to understand division better and work on a lot of division problems with the tutors. In the program, our teacher and the tutors give us so much time and freedom to practice what we want to work on, so I know with time I will get better at division and become stronger at math. This session I’m also excited to work on my soccer skills in TYO’s after-school sports program! Doing both, I know by the summer I’ll be better at math, English, Arabic, and soccer!

I love coming to TYO and learning through the games here. I know if I keep coming I’ll become a great student. I am still having trouble in some subjects at school now, but I know if I keep coming to the program I’ll become much better. I can’t wait to get started again this Spring!

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