Rooftop Micro Farms for Refugee Women in Deheishe

by Karama Organisation for Women and Children's Development
Bring proudness to the Palestinian camps
Bring proudness to the Palestinian camps

Welcome to Karama’s last update from 2016! We are so excited to close the year on a happy note with all of you, despite everything that is going on in our communities and all over the world...

In the last year, YOU have sponsored this project of productive gardens all over Deheishe Camp. Karama is so enthusiastic about the potential of growing fresh, healthy food on our own roofs and we couldn’t be happier that YOU and other organizations also believe in this idea. Now, the European Commission has committed to this vision for independent production and empowerment for our women and youth by selecting our project for a four-year long fund. Together with the EU, Karama will build more than 220 rooftop gardens over the whole West Bank and support production groups who will produce and sell locally.

Following EU rules, this fund will cover 90% of the full funds of this project, while Karama needs to fill the left over gap of 10%. Therefore Karama will continue to need all the support it can get to reach this amount and make this project a success! Without sufficient funding we will not be able to implement this action.

Are You Still Looking for Original Gifts?

Do you want to buy a meaningful gift for someone you love this holiday season? Karama now has a wonderful opportunity to give a special and telling present that will spread love and proudness both in Palestine and your community. This holiday season you can support a Palestinian family for a life time, bringing a sustainable green opportunity through Karama Organization.

Coming year, Karama is taking the exciting step of expanding its rooftop garden project to another 220 refugee families in Bethlehem and Hebron region. These gardens will not only improve food availability and food security in the major refugee camps, but they will also empower and employ more than 220 women and youth in a sustainable and innovative social project. The great news: a major donor has already committed to the majority of the needed funds, but Karama only needs to fill a gap of 10%.  

Each rooftop greenhouse costs around 1460 euro and includes an innovative and efficient system of tubes with soil, water dripping irrigation and plastic covering over a strong iron frame. Every year family can harvest fresh vegetables and herbs for two long harvest seasons. With every garden we will spread green spaces in concrete urban areas, all over Palestinian camps. You can be visible part of this movement of independent growth and development! Sponsor (part of) a garden and you have a visible and emotional share in a family’s empowerment. Every garden will carry a sign with the logo from the main donor and project information. But Karama will also add your name or the name of the person you make the donation in to the garden! If you want to have your own garden or make the garden in somebody else his name, fund us with a donation of 500 EU and your support will be visible for all of us to see. And any donation from 100 EU will receive special mention on the project website that will be launched in 2017.

For more information Karama has attached here a project summary document. Or write us at volunteers@karama.org or on our Facebook page.

And be assured; we are not forgetting our children in the camp and we will remain always active with activities for them, even if this rooftop garden project takes off. Our center will continue to be a safe place for the kids of the camp!

Warm Holiday Greetings from the Whole Karama Team!

Support women like Hajjar with a rooftop garden
Support women like Hajjar with a rooftop garden

Attachments:
Young and old together in the rooftop gardens
Young and old together in the rooftop gardens

Did you know Karama passed the 50,000 USD donation mark this year in August?? :D In exactly 5 years on the Global Giving platform we’ve been able to gather so much support, so unexpected before! With all these signs of solidarity we’ve been able to create amazing summer camps for our youth, buy library books, build the only grass playfield in the camp, help women (and youth!) on their roofs and rebuild broken gardens when winter storms or invasions have done damage… and much much MUCH more!  In summary you all together have enabled us to continue being an open and welcoming space for kids and youth who are struggling in their daily lives because of their living conditions, the occupation and the poor prospects. Are you ready for the next 5 years? We are!

And who can we better put in the spotlight when we are thinking about the next five year then the young generation of new community leaders? While the rooftop garden project of Karama has originally always focused on women (because of their additional limits in mobility and key role in the healthy upbringing of their families) slowly also several young people have been engaged in the project. They assist in the maintenance of several gardens and were so actively interested that they together developed several proposals to get support from youth funds. One of these proposals led to the partnership with the UN-Habitat Youth Fund. Once their training component started rolling in 2015, we first had one of our international youth volunteers going to Mauritius for the in-person training (Thanks Kevin!:)). Now in 2016 online training continues and also connects youth from Deheishe who have been actively participating online!

Ghassan Abujamia (24 years) who has been active in Karama since he was a youngster is one of them. He has rolled into UN-Habitat’s training program that is offered online, through which he completed three courses and received a certificate. Let’s hear from him.

Everything from the training program for you is online… What exactly do you do in such online courses?

“Yes it is all on an online platform called Eliademy that has a forum per course for discussions, reading materials and video lectures listed for each week. Lectures are all prerecorded so if there is no internet on a certain day, I can just come in the next day and watch the video in the moment that I can. For most courses I have to read some information before the lecture and then make a quiz after I have watched the lecture of that week, completing in this way around 10 weeks of information per course. But all courses also have extra interactive things with it; for example it is required to post each week on the forum to talk about topics with other youth participants from all over the world. Also I had to write essays, business plans and make presentations all in English! My submission and work were reviewed by teachers from real universities that the UN-Habitat works together with and I got real feedback on my assignments, making it feel really interactive. Of course, after completing each of the three courses I got a certificate signed by UN and with my name :)”  

What topics were most interesting to learn about and how you think they will help you?

“I took courses in financial bookkeeping, marketing and e-marketing and social enterprise management. They were all super informative and interesting, though I like the marketing course the best. Over the weeks that I spend reading and interacting about the materials, I got a lot of new ideas how things could work for us in the camp. For example, how we could use something easy like social media and Facebook for the benefit of our project. All the work really helped me to look at the camp from a business perspective; what are some opportunities and what ideas will not be beneficial or sustainable for us economically in the end (so we better not begin with at all). Overall it also helped me to be more confident in my English and communicating about our situation in Deheishe and I really hope the UN project will continue and we can make our written plans reality now!” 

Ghassan on our summer trips - always active!
Ghassan on our summer trips - always active!
Taking care of the garden
Taking care of the garden

Links:

Ready for Summer 2016!
Ready for Summer 2016!

In this newsflash you will hear about; the several rooftop gardens producing very well again due to the hard work from its owners, new developments in the garden project on hold due to delay in donor funding being released and other women and youth activities going on in the Karama community center.

First of all, GREAT you are engaging with our project and reading our update! The support from all these great people around the world means a lot to us. If you are connected to Karama’s network on social media, you might have seen some pictures passing by on Facebook about the slow but steady progress of the wonderful rooftop gardens. Tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and others are getting ready to be enjoyed. The owners are dedicated and work hard to have a good harvest, hoping to enjoy their produce in the upcoming month of Ramadan, where us Muslims will fast between sunrise and sunset.

New developments in this project however are still on hold due to the delay in donor funding being released. Development work is a hard world and even when good-hearted people believe in our case for green, social entrepreneurship it will not always come through the ways originally expected. But that won’t have our project team stop their work and lots of other activities are ongoing.

Previously we already informed you about a new series of women activities taking place in Karama center, where the women used the updated kitchen to hold workshops for different traditional dishes. This was continued in the last weeks, with recipes including traditional sweets as well! Those were some happy families at home to taste the work of these women’s hands. Some of their production has already been sold through local markets; a great step!  Now a selection of the dishes is being made, that could be produced on a larger scale and sold during the month of Ramadan when people will especially enjoy traditional (but labor intensive) dishes. 

Also Karama just kicked off its first summer camp of 2016! More than 45 youngster between 10 and 12 joined our first activities rigth after the closure of the schools. The teens will participate in days of fun, creativity, expression and collaborative work, both in our center and on trips. The first trip to Solomons Pools was a great success, even though it was a bit more chilly than normally around this time of the year! 

Wish us luck for the rest of the summer! :) 

Thanks to all our supporters, especially our frequent donors, we really appreciate your continous help for our work. 

Production in the different rooftop gardens
Production in the different rooftop gardens
Cucumbers in the different rooftop gardens
Cucumbers in the different rooftop gardens
Almost ready to pick!
Almost ready to pick!
Neat rows of vegetables growing strong
Neat rows of vegetables growing strong

Links:

Fresh mint!
Fresh mint!

Dear supporters from Karama Organization! 

In February we would like to send you a brief update about our activities in Deheishe. We are thankful for all the frequent and in-frequent supporters who continue to donate and share our message. While the Karama Team is preparing for a delayed start of the UN project (you remember this from a previous note possible... ;)) the female participants already active in Karama continue to move, grow and nourish. Read on to stay connected and let us know what you think through email or Facebook! 

While a brief and relatively soft winter seems to come to its end, the women in Deheishe camp get extra busy on their roofs. The sun spreads its warmth and both the people and plants benefit from the extra sunshine on their skin. Chairs are carried up and a well-deserved break takes place in the warm sunlight instead of inside the walls of their homes. Women from extended families often share one roof and so these meeting places are more frequently used when the sun shows its face more often.  

Most of the production coming from the gardens is immediately taken down from the garden to the kitchen and used in delicious salads, soups or dishes. Cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes form a healthy addition to a rice- and chicken-based meal while the zucchinis or aubergines (picked when they are small) are slowly cooked, stuffed with a rice and herbs mixture. Since last year, most women added several herbs to their garden's production. Women decided to add the often used herbs of parsley, mint and sage as a try-out and they all seem to grow very well. The women have harvested some of the largest sage leaves they've ever seen! :) While sage is most often dried before used, parsley and mint are added right away to dishes and salads. These herbs are such a staple in the Palestinian traditional kitchen that we almost forget what an incredible nutritional value they have! 

Parsley is rich in many vital vitamins, including Vitamin C, B12, K, A and plenty of other minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron. This means parsley keeps our immune system strong, ones your bones and heals the nervous system too. It helps flush out excess fluids from the body, thus supporting kidney function. Not a bad idea to add to a salad!

Mint is not only known for its refreshing properties but also contains a good amount of Vitamin A and iron. Through its characteristics it improves oral health and supports digestion and the absorption of nutrition from food. Besides that it can be used to treat several common illnesses it is often used as refreshment as well. 

Besides Vitamin K and calcium, Sage does contain numerous anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds beneficial to health. Out of the many health benefits of sage, some of the most important include its ability to improve brain function, lower inflammation throughout the body, prevent chronic diseases, boost the strength of the immune system, regulate proper digestion and alleviate skin conditions. It is no surprise than that this herb is almost daily added to teas in Palestine.

With your help we can keep on growing and improving our diet and health!

Thank you for reading and caring! 

Harvesting Parsley in the garden
Harvesting Parsley in the garden

Links:

Women at work in Karama
Women at work in Karama

Welcome to a new update from the Karama Women's project. We are happy to keep you updated on the progress of our efforts in Deheishe Camp, that we can undertake with the support from people all over the world. Thank you for showing interest in the stories of the people from Palestine and for practicing your solidarity through GlobalGiving! It means a lot to our team that people from all over the world support our initiatives especially during these times.

During times when the Palestinian people continue to feel the tightening grip of the occupation on its cities, villages and camps, it is even more important that Karama take positive and collaborative efforts to support our community. One of these initiatives was a community dinner organized for the older people in the camp. Several women involved in the rooftop gardens project helped us with preparing and distributing the dinner. By cooking a special dish called maftoul, the ladies are keeping traditional food alive, which takes a long time to cook but much more local than the rice that we commonly cook these days. The dish is complemented by a soup of tomatoes, carrots and onions and some chicken. Food boxes were spread out through the camp to reach as many old people as possible and show them a sign of support, while others dined in the center.  

With October month being the olive harvesting month, Karama pilotted a new initiative with a group of selected women involved in the rooftop gardens. Together they resourced fresh olives and processed them in Karama organization. By adding salt, lemon, spicy pepers and a little bit of sugar, the olives are pickled over a duration of several weeks. Now the olives are packaged in small containers, ready to sell to local and international costumers. If this small scale initiative is a success we look forward to expand this local home food production with our Karama women! 

Previously, all women also prepared their rooftop gardens for the winter season, planting beans and different types of tomatoes, aubergine and some added herbs. The weather has been very mild in October, but now finally starts to be colder with some rain now and then. Being protected in the green house, the environment so far is good for a fertile winter season inshallah. Soon we should be able to send you pictures of the winter produce. 

Karama Olives
Karama Olives
Food ready to distribute
Food ready to distribute
Hajjar preparing the dish in Karama
Hajjar preparing the dish in Karama

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Karama Organisation for Women and Children's Development

Location: Bethlehem, West Bank - Palestine
Website: http:/​/​www.karama.org
Project Leader:
Yasser Alhaj
Bethlehem, West Bank Palestine
$16,618 raised of $40,000 goal
 
297 donations
$23,382 to go
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