Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, US Consul General Jacob Walles and USAID Mission Director, Howard Sumka, with CHF Country Director, Lana Abu Hijleh and the Governor of Bethlehem Abdul Fattah Hamayel and the Mayor of Beit Jala, Raji Zidan, celebrated the opening of Beit Jala Public Library with residents of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour.
During the opening ceremonies, Dr. Fayyad praised the project saying, “This project helps spread knowledge and education among generations.” He also added, “The implementation of this project within 10 months shows the commitment and dedication of the Beit Jala municipality and CHF to the development process.”
Mr. Jacob Walles, who had attended the cornerstone laying for this project in October 2008, congratulated the Mayor and the residents of Beit Jala, for “This remarkable building and accomplishment. The municipality of Beit Jala and CHF have been great partners for us and USAID in helping implement this project.” Remarking on CHF’s participatory implementation methods, Mr. Walles added, “The other thing that impresses me is that the idea for this library came from the people here in Beit Jala and was developed by the municipality. It’s a very good model of how to do development projects across the West Bank and Gaza.”
The two-story library was built to benefit the more than 10,000 citizens of Beit Jala, including the hundreds of university students who attend nearby Bethlehem University. Aiming to enhance the services provided by local governance structures throughout West Bank and Gaza, CHF’s Local Democratic Reform Program, funded by USAID, invested $300,000 to build this essential cultural and educational facility. Confirming the need for such a facility, the Palestinian Authority, Beit Jala municipality and the local community contributed US$180,000 to make this project possible. Work on the facility began in October 2008, and generated more than 3,000 temporary working days, in addition to six permanent library staff to take care of the book collections and the organization of library-hosted events.
The public library was selected and designed through a joint municipality-community effort, facilitated by CHF International’s office in West Bank/Gaza. Since 2005, CHF’s LDR project has increased the capacity of Palestinian Local Governments Units to better serve their citizenry and to adopt democratic participatory approaches, on both local and national levels.