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Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe

by Karama Organisation for Women and Children's Development
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Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe
Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe
Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe
Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe
Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe
Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe
Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe
Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe
Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe
Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe
Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe
Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe
Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe
Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe
Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe
Gaza - destruction and recovery
Gaza - destruction and recovery

Our lives in Palestine have been greatly impacted by the ongoing violence and recent war on Gaza. This is also seen in our projects over the last period. This GlobalGiving update will inform you about the developments over the last three months. 

Dear Karama supporter, 

After Karama set up the structures and provided the water, the women have been taking care of their gardens on a daily basis in the past three months. Their plants started to grow and produce. Meetings between the women and visits from agricultural experts continued until the first week of Ramadan (end of June). These moments of exchange were experienced as very positive by the women and made them feel more capable of doing the job. Especially the discussion of diseases was helpful, as they are unfortunately not uncommon. They learned how to add iron, calcium or other nutrition to the soil that help the plants to deal with the poor soil we have here in Palestine. Other diseases have been mostly kept out of the gardens so far and the main concern is the lack of fertile soil and high salinity of water.

Also a survey was developed by the project team to further document how the women are effected by the gardens. This questionnaire measures the food security situation of the women as well as public participation of the partakers and how the women view themselves. Complemented with details about their harvest and a repetition of a similar survey at the end, this will give a detailed insight in the impact of this project and any changes in the lives of the women. 

But in July, the appearance of tranquillity was lifted and violence became more open on the people in Gaza. The signing of a Palestinian unity government triggered mass arrests in the West Bank, but it led to a massacre in Gaza. Indiscriminate bombing of the densely populated strip of land caused not only more than 2000 people to die, it also took down infrastructure that makes life almost impossible now. Life is impossible in Gaza, if it wasn't for the high spirit of the people. Shortages of water and electricity lead to many preventable diseases. Many people are still displaced, because their houses are destroyed or so greatly damaged that there is no home to return to anymore. While a great amount of families already depended on food support from external actors before the recent war, currently UNRWA hands out emergency packages to all Gazan families.

The war naturally became the focus of our lives in the West Bank as well and took us through a rollercoaster of emotions. Between the shock, despair and euphoria we have found the hope that one day justice will be done and our rights will be recognized. But as so many families in Gaza had to bury their death, it was difficult in some way to continue in the project for some. One can feel downhearted when all it seems you can do is send bottles of water to your people enduring such hardships a few kilometres away. But we are under the same occupying structures and need to take our steps to shake off this injustice. And taking care of our health, greening our roofs and providing for our families might than exactly be steps that we need to take.

Though the violence continues now in Gaza, we know there will be a day they can rebuild their homes, schools, mosques and roofs again. At the same time in the West Bank we should continue to grow; on our roofs for a healthier life and in our hearts for a more dignified life.

Your support is a great sign for the Palestinian people. Thank you for standing with us.

 

The picture from Gaza:  (Ashraf Amra / APA images)

 

Progress on the roofs
Progress on the roofs
Meeting with experts
Meeting with experts

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See the report here: http://youtu.be/qUfzflYqQeE
See the report here: http://youtu.be/qUfzflYqQeE

Dear Karama Supporter, 

The last weeks were full of progress for the participants in our rooftop gardens project so we are eager to share these exciting developments with you! 

Last Friday we had a trainings workshop for the participants together with an expert from the Ministry of Agriculture. The Palestinian Authority wanted to extend its support with this gesture, which offered a chance for the women to get together with somebody daily involved in vegetable production. He shared insights on growing on such a small space and the women asked him advice about what plants to grow best. Now most of the participants have started planting they have received another great incentive to give as much of their energy and attention possible in this project! 

Another great motivator for all the people surrounding this project was the visit of a TV crew from Al Jazeera, an international news channel broadcasting all over the world. For a program for the Arabic channel, they filmed the rooftop gardens and some of the participants involved to display the story of the Palestinian refugees. On the 14th of May, this report was broadcast on their TV channel. This broadcast comes at the occassion of the rememberance of the Naqba - the term that refers to the expulsion of Palestinians before and after the announcement of the state of Israel. All around Palestine this expulsion continues. Bedoein are still forced of their lands, villages have their land seized for settlements and the land and few houses left from before the Naqba remain out of reach for the refugees and even under threat of demolition. There is no better day to show the occupation and the world with our project that we as refugees will never give up. That we are able to create everything out of nothing and that we can turn the naqba into revolution. The participants are proud of the project and feel the connection to their land - even if they don't have access to it yet. Some of them shy, some of them bold they shared their story in front of the camera and we hope you will enjoy watching the clip! Especially for our international supporters we have translated the report and provided subtitles, so quickly watch the video through the link below or here: http://youtu.be/qUfzflYqQeE

In the coming weeks the participants will continue planting their gardens and we look forward with them to the progress. We hope you look out to our next update as well!

A big thank you and many warm wishes from Deheishe!

Women's meeting in Karama
Women's meeting in Karama
Visit Aljazeera crew
Visit Aljazeera crew
The participants discuss the gardens with trainer.
The participants discuss the gardens with trainer.

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New materials are being purchased
New materials are being purchased

New season, new gardens and participants - same idea and commitment!

After a difficult winter with stormy weather and damage to our project, a new phase started with your support and a generous donation from Lush, currently enableling us to prepare another 9 gardens. 

 

Dear supporter of our community in Deheishe, 

This last winter brought us many unexpected things; a heavy blizzard but little rain, great damage to all gardens but also overwelming support from our community and a continuation of our partnership with Lush. Though these last things are very positive for our rooftop garden project and the new participants, the little rain and the problems with the UNRWA make many Palestinian refugees cautious about the coming months... The harvest is expected to be less this year because of the little rain and food prices are very likely to rise. Meanwhile the shrinking budget of UNRWA leads to fears of further cuts in services and less families that will be able to count on food assistance from the agency. This takes place while research has shown more refugee families are getting more and more food INsecure!

Karama continues to look for solutions that raise our community to more self support and independence and less relience on food aid from outside. That is why it remains crucial to bring back agriculture into the lives of the refugees. With your help this is possible and currently we are on the brick of including more women in our project. Lush Charity Pot UK has pledged new funds to include another 9 women in this initiative. Soon they will be climbing on their roofs, watering their plants and seeing their harvest grow! 

But before this is possible, Yasser has made sure the new constructions will fit our needs and will offer enough protection and opportunities, while remaining small and light enough for the women's roofs. Also the trainer has been selected who will assist in the delivery of the materials and will guide the women during the first months. As soon as all the participants are selected they will hold their first meeting together - that will be followed by many more to be a central tool in their empowerment!

Your support remains very much appreciated and needed, also in the form of sharing this project online with your friends and connections! In addition, donations will be very well used in this project. With 50 dollars Karama can provide better seeds for the participants while 100 dollars will keep the trainer involved for another week in the project to support the women! Any amount will help us to grow this project and help families become more food security while1500USD will include a 10th family in this project!  

Keep an eye on our Facebook page if you are keen to see more photo's! 

Thank you for being part of this project and the support you give to the women in our society. 

Look out for our next update were we will introduce you to some of the new participants!

The construction is being made precisely to fit
The construction is being made precisely to fit
Tomatoes get more expensive to buy, but grow well
Tomatoes get more expensive to buy, but grow well
The camp; where greenhouses could cover the roofs.
The camp; where greenhouses could cover the roofs.
View of the camp; concrete houses and water tanks.
View of the camp; concrete houses and water tanks.

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The new greenhouse created for the women!
The new greenhouse created for the women!

Dear Karama Supporters!

With this small report we are eager to give you an update on the progress made in the last weeks. Several of you have reached out to us and showed your support – either through donating or asking about the progress. We at Karama really appreciate your help and your efforts to stay in touch – thank you so much! Hopefully this small note – and especially the photos – will keep you connected to our efforts in Deheishe and the work we are trying to do in our society. Do not hesitate to let us know what you think – email, Facebook responses and comments on GlobalGiving will be read by us!

At the end of October we started a new fundraising campaign to create a better protected shield around three rooftop gardens. The plants of these women were more affected by the wind and this experience made Karama realize the gardens could be much for efficient when the cover works as a green house. The previous winter, which normally starts here in December, saw less growth in the gardens than we had hoped. How could we improve this, was the question in our organization. The price of vegetables is often rising in the winter months. Especially this year, as farmers experienced worse weather conditions leading to less harvest, the price of daily used vegetables like tomatoes have again gone up.

The innovative solution we came up with for the women was the creation of an improved greenhouse around the garden! Thicker plastic and a wooden frame makes sure all the heat stays in, while the sun can still reach the garden. With your help we have already been able to fund some of the constructions, though more is needed! In the past weeks we continued to build and take care of our gardens. By now this has led to great growth, as the women were able to keep much higher temperatures inside. The lettuce grew much quicker than normally and also the green beans and cucumbers climbed high in the air. In the new construction, the tubes are lower enabling a more efficient use of the space available. Check out the pictures to see this with your own eyes – the green bean and cucumbers plants eagerly use the robes to climb up and find their way through the whole greenhouse. Now the expected harvest is much larger than we would normally achieve on such a small space!

This year we also experiment with potatoes in the rooftop garden at Karama – so we can hopefully add this stock to the rest of the gardens next season. Starting with some pieces of potatoes on the bottom of a folded woollen sack, we continue to add soil to the sack as the plants are branching out. The sack, that can be unfolded until 1,5 meter high, will allow the potato plants to grow higher will getting roots along this whole height. The roots that will grow in the full height of the sack will deliver much more harvest than grown in a normal tube or field. Take a look at the pictures with this report to see how the plant is growing.

Now the first cucumbers could be eaten by the families this week – a great first result of our hard work. The coming weeks will hopefully give more harvest, tomatoes, green beans and peppers are expected later this year. We will keep you updated when the women will be able to make the first meals from their rooftop production – they are looking very much forward to this and we hope you will too!

Donations are still very much needed to fund the changes made. Your help is much appreciated by all of us in Deheishe – we send you a big thank you for your support!

The participant working in her new construction
The participant working in her new construction
the new construction in deheishe
the new construction in deheishe
The cucumber plants growing.
The cucumber plants growing.
The potato plant starting small..
The potato plant starting small..
The plant after some days - with soil added!
The plant after some days - with soil added!
First results of their hard work!
First results of their hard work!
Yasser adding ropes to support the plants
Yasser adding ropes to support the plants
In the new garden the plants can grow much higher
In the new garden the plants can grow much higher
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Work currently being done in the rooftop gardens
Work currently being done in the rooftop gardens

Dear Karama Supporter!

This new report will update you on the latest developments in Karama's rooftop gardens project, that continues to bring fresh produce to tens of families in refugee camps in Palestine. On the flat roofs of several houses, Karama placed a construction of tubes with soil and an innovative irrigation system. Through learning-by-doing and by exchanging with each other, the women involved were able to let their gardens flourish and supplement their families diet with fresh peppers, tomatoes, courgette, beans, onions and fruits. Now we are preparing for the winter season, we are urgently seeking a small amount of funds to help two families make their gardens better protected! 

With this initiative Karama is continuously committed to make our community aware of the importance of our environment and healthy food. Care for nature and attention for the benefits of organic nutrition are important values this project aims to communicate. Financial difficulties and the daily struggles under occupation make families with young children often ignore the importance of a healthy diet. While sugary candies are plenty available at a cheap price, the prices of daily essentials like vegetables and fruit have risen significantly in the last year, making a healthy diet not a high priority for most families. But the attention this project gave and still gives to growing fresh vegetables made people in the community again aware of the importance of a healthy and nutritional diet.

Additionally the gardens have many benefits for the women and children involved, who were able to release some of the tension and stress through agricultural activities. Several women stated they very much enjoy to spend time in their gardens, because it gives them a feeling of usefulness and self-worth again. Seeing the plants grow, produce a tasteful harvest and benefit their children has contributed to a more positive outlook on life. “For me it’s a place of calmness and happiness”, says one of the participants, “and after seeing the daily progress the plants up here make, I hope to transfer this new positivity inside me to my children”. 

This project is taking root at a time when many independent sources stress how the Israeli occupation continues to burden the daily lives of all Palestinians. A new report released this week by the World Bank stressed again how much the development of our agricultural sector is limited by the Israeli restrictions, meaning a loss of millions of income every year. (See link below for report) Especially the Israeli control of Area C, which represents 61% of the West Bank and contains important natural resources, prohibits the Palestinians from working on their land and generating income from e.g. agriculture and mining. The inhabitants of the refugee camps lost access to agricultural land as well, while many used to find income or employment in this sector. They are currently threatened by no stable source of income but it is clear innovate agriculture does offer opportunities in the camps as well. To rise above this situation we can use the tools and resources we have right now to strive to be more self-supportive and become less dependent on aid from the UNRWA and others. This project helps to attain this both practically and by appealing to the outlook of the people involved.  

After the summer, Karama is now arranging for the winter season and we still need all the support you can give! Currently the gardens are being prepared to plant the winter vegetables and some gardens are in need of small maintenance. The last months showed a few gardens were too little protected against the wind from between the houses and need extra support to protect the plants. Though several families are able to invent and construct some adjustment themselves, two families are currently practically unable to make these alterations. Karama therefore already agreed to help construct a wooden “cage” around the frame with tubes, in order to project the plastic cover while still allowing the sun to reach the plants. As we are currently working on this, donations are very much needed to help these two families prepare for the winter season! A small contribution could already help to purchase the needed materials.

Moreover, Karama continues to look for ways to expand this idea to more refugee families so many more can use their own skills to support themselves. Several more women are waiting to get introduced to the work of gardening and we hope to welcome them in our project soon. With your donation this could be possible! Do not hesitate to reach out to us and we wish to thank you very much for the support you continue to give!!

Extra support is created around the gardens
Extra support is created around the gardens
Work currently going on in the micro-farms
Work currently going on in the micro-farms

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Organization Information

Karama Organisation for Women and Children's Development

Location: Bethlehem, West Bank - Palestine
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Yasser Alhaj
Bethlehem, West Bank Palestine
$29,377 raised of $40,000 goal
 
668 donations
$10,623 to go
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