Jun 13, 2012

Karama's Rooftop Gardens creating hope and healthier lives in Deheishe Camp!

In March 2012 Karama Organization took the initiative to create 10 rooftop micro farms in Deheishe Refugee Camp. Since then the female participants has been selected and eventually 15 women have been able to receive the training and materials to start their own micro farm on their roof. This enables them to grow a variety of foods and extend the diet of their families, improving it with more fresh, organic vegetables. But after a very successful start of this project, it is highly needed to provide more families with these tools.

Imagine the refugee camp. Crowded, with 15.000 people living on less than one square kilometers. Most families have no access to land other than their house, and space for trees or plants is very rare. Due to the difficult economic situation, many people live on a tight budget and depend on the support of the UNRWA and their social network for their food. Families that suffer from food insecurity often apply different coping strategies to survive. Recent surveys showed that most often, they leave out the purchase of fresh vegetables first, because this is expensive and easier to cut out than the school fees for example. If this happens often though, this highly influences the development of the children, as well as the health of the adults.

Notice yet, that all the houses in Deheishe have a flat roof. This is both to store the water tanks that collect the water, as well as to easily extend the house whenever necessary. But besides the several functions families have given to their roof – extension of the living room, meeting point, place to dry the laundry, and so on – the roof can also be used as a garden!

Through the fundraising efforts of our friend and previous volunteer Pia, Karama has been able to create 15 rooftop micro farms and train 15 women. The micro farms consist of four broad tubes, in which the seeds are planted. These tubes are held in stands, to spread the weight equally over the roofs. Around these tubes, a cover is shaped to create the best atmosphere possible in both summer and winter. In the summer the cover from hessian is placed, which creates shade for the plants, and in the winter a small green house is created to protect the plants against colder days or rain. A range of vegetable plants are placed in the tubes, among eggplants, tomatoes, green beans and cucumber. Also an extra water tank is provided so more water can be stored during the days that the Israeli occupation delivers the water to the camp. This will help the families to have enough water during the month to water their plants.

After the micro farms are installed on the roofs, the participants are stimulated to take responsibility for the continuation of the project. When working with the first 15 women, this is where we already notice the effect of the specific structure of this project. A central thought behind the project is to take away restraining factors for the women, that limited their own creativity, strength and inventive skills. Now they have been empowered with the training and the materials, it is up to them how to continue with their garden and own ideas can be implemented to take full advantage of their own micro farm. The women have now taken the initiative in their own hands, and have created additional ways to broaden the variety of food produced or maximize the produce of the existing selection. Some have created additional baskets to plant more types, others have used the space below the tubes to create space for the growth of mint and other herbs, and most women have come up with ideas to let the green beans and other existing plant grow upwards. This already shows how this initiative is on its way to reach its most important goal: invest in these women so they are able to use their qualities and potential.  

The goal of this fundraising attempt is to extend the reach of this project, and include more women from Deheishe as well as from other refugee camps. We have already sent one rooftop garden to Aida Refugee Camp, which is a camp also nearby Bethlehem. This is a great way to spread knowledge about this idea and has as important effect that people already use their resources and creativity to install their own rooftop gardens. But not all women have this option, and we want to give them the same possibility to support their family! We hope to create another 40 micro farms and distribute them in Deheishe Camp, as well as in Aida Camp and Arroub Camp. Help us to empower these women and create hope in the Palestinian refugee community!


Mar 13, 2012

March Update from Karama Organization

Dear GlobalGiving Supporters!

The new season started; the sun is getting out more often and the cold starts to disappear from our community center and the houses in the camp. The perfect time for more outdoor games our international volunteers think at Karama Organization, and the children seem to think it’s the perfect time to satisfied their appetite for ice-creams.. Since the warmth officially returned, ice-creams seem to be sold everywhere for a few cents, making it the children’s favorite after school snack. But besides all these things going on in our organization, we would love to take the time to write you another update about the developments in our project!

Since the weather enables us to initiate more activities outside, it confirms again how important is it for the children to play safely. Not only is it a great way for them to be active and get some exercise in this way, it also helps them to release energy and emotions. Some children will be too distracted to sit down during the program in Karama, and those benefit greatly from playing some outside games first. Being too bothered by problems at home or other distractions to focus on a workshop, after they used their bodies they are often much more able to participate fully in any other activity. All the children  gain a lot from the activities our international volunteer create outside; since they often contain a component of collaboration, team play and determination. Although most kids will find it hard work together in a team for example, it is encouraging to let them experience that being a team player is actually a great good!   

But although the emphasize of Karama is on creating a safe place for the children, both in an emotional and pedagogical way, as well as in a practical way, we notice that our outside playground is not always living up to our ideal of safety. The concrete floor is not whole anymore, and contains area’s where the children could easily hurt themselves.  Even though we have been spared for accidents until now, we still want to make it our aim to update this area, hopefully with new rubber matting. A project proposal is going out to our contacts right now, which will hopefully receive responses in the near future. If you want to contribute to this restoration plan for our outside facilities, you are more than welcome to contribute on this website, or sent us an email if you have any suggestions.

With our lessons and workshops, we keep on supporting the education from the children that they already receive in the UN schools in Deheishe Refugee Camp. The group sizes that are being used in Karama are much smaller than their classes in the UN school. In the first place this already makes them feel more noticed, and encourages them even more to participate in the classes. But it also helps the tutor to notice the process of the children much quicker, and give more attention to the area’s where they have difficulties in. Although the lessons in Karama will have no official assessment, they will most surely help to children to perform better in class and pass their exams in school with more confidence.

We would like to thank you again for keeping connected with our project and showing your interest and support! We encourage you to keep on spreading the word about Karama Organization with your friends, family and contacts so we can continue with our work.

If you would like stay in closer contact, please fill in your email address at our website to receive our monthly newsletter!

Warm wishes from the Karama Team.

Dec 12, 2011

Karama Organization - December update


Dear friends and supporters through the Global Giving,


It has been two months now since our last report, so we are eager to update you on the developments in Karama Organization. Still, we look back at an hectic but amazing Global Challenge, with great results! We were able to reach out to many people, to get in contact with new sponsors and receive a rewarding amount of donations. And even after the Global Challenge we feel we benefit greatly from our account at Global Giving, since we continue to receive support. 


In the last months, the work of Karama continued steadfast through the help of international volunteers and the determination of our local staff and teachers. Since the schools started after the summer holidays and winter settled in, the openings hours are slightly reduced, to meet the children’s school schedule and to avoid keeping them in too long after the dark sets in. A group of young children run in daily after their school classes, which last from 7 o clock in the morning till 13 o clock. Our programs give them the opportunity to be creative and get their energy out, while receiving personal attention from our volunteers. This often results in new artistic wall decorations, and the wallboard full of colorful drawings. Also, the English lessons with several age-groups continue in small setting, in order to give the children the maximum of attention. This will support their lessons in the UN schools, where the children who struggle with the material often fall behind quickly.


One of the most recent projects that Karama successfully conducted was the transformation of the only Deheishe Camp Library! With the help of two dedicated international volunteers, we were able to extend our range of books, and set up a more systematic administration system. Above this, we added some soft cushions to create a comfortable reading corner. After the hard work, this resulted immediately in more kids using the facility! The queues have never been this long with children waiting to take out books, and children that never took books home before now have the chance to read in the library, as well as at home. We continue to look for options to extend our book range, and we work hard to keep the library an attractive reading and relaxing place.


Meanwhile, we continue to work with the primary schools in Deheishe Camp. Besides the activities in our center, which also support the educational system, we work to sustain the efforts of the schools as well. Since we identified the problems children experience due to too little attention in class and distraction due to emotional distress, we continue to make efforts to establish activities that will meet their needs. This have to happen in close coordination with the management of the schools, in order to identify the group of children that will benefit the most of our program, and to plan the activities according to their schedule.  With the success of the previous remedial program, implemented in 2010, in our minds, we are hopeful our current efforts will bring the most vulnerable children more academic success.


With this update we want to let our Global Giving supporters know what we did not forget them, and we continue to be thankful for your support! If you wish for more regular updates, why not add your email address to our mailing list at www.karama.org.


We thank you all for your interest in the work of Karama Organization and your continuing support!

Warm greeting from the Karama Organization.

Activities inside
Activities inside
Kids in the Library
Kids in the Library


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