Solidarity with Palestinians fight against COVID19

by Karama Organisation for Women and Children's Development
Solidarity with Palestinians fight against COVID19
Solidarity with Palestinians fight against COVID19
Solidarity with Palestinians fight against COVID19
Solidarity with Palestinians fight against COVID19
Solidarity with Palestinians fight against COVID19
Solidarity with Palestinians fight against COVID19
Solidarity with Palestinians fight against COVID19
Solidarity with Palestinians fight against COVID19
School activities to improve awareness of children
School activities to improve awareness of children

Dear readers, friends, and supporters around the world.

During times of crisis, we truly realize the importance and value of social connection. Support systems, social capital are key sources of resilience and greatly support people get through a shock, and recover more gracefully than alone. Karama recognizes this value and never aims to operate alone in the community. 

Together we are stronger.

Since the start of COVID19, Karama Organization has been in close communication with local service providers and first-responders to understand what needs exist among them in this new type of crisis. And then we see how Karama can jump in and support. 

Some of the key partners we worked with are the local UNRWA offices, including the schools, health care offices, and sanitation workers. As well as local religious centers and mosques. In addition of course to local medical centers and hospitals. 

  • Karama has been able to contribute with educational games and lessons in the UNRWA schools for young students to understand the importance of health routines in the prevention of COVID19. 
  • We organized distributions in coordination with UNRWA and most recently distributed thank-you packages to all hardworking sanitation workers all over the West Bank! These workers have been under very difficult circumstances in the last two years, continuing their important work in the camps while dealing with new threats.
  • Karama also supported special cases that were in urgent need of health items such as oxygen machines. 
  • We distributed health protection items to local mosques, to allow them to keep their doors open safely.

In this way, Karama continues to build and strengthen the local support system while ensuring no people are left behind. We are proud to be a small chain in the civil society of Palestine that makes sure Palestinians are on their way to a more resilient society where no people live in poverty. 

We are so thankful for all the people who believe in this work and have continued to support us. We know many of you have faced challenges and difficulties yourself in the last year but we continue to receive such overwhelming support from all over the world. 

Please keep us in your thoughts & prayers! 

Warm wishes from the Karama team.

Helping children understand health & safety rules
Helping children understand health & safety rules
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Food production in Karama-supported unit
Food production in Karama-supported unit

Dear friends from all over the world! 

How are you doing? We hope you all find yourselves and your loved ones in good health. 

Karama Organization would like to give you another small update from Palestine, with news about the happenings among refugee families in the refugee camps on the West Bank. 

Your support has been very important in the recovery from the COVID19 crisis and enables Karama Organization to provide onoing support to refugee communities in Palestine. Vaccination programs are in full-swing in all areas of Palestine, with numbers of fully vaccinated people slowly increasing. While some people are apathetic about vaccinations, they recognize it is for the common good and in general people support the roll out of vaccines. There is also the understanding that in the future vaccination against the COVID19 will be mandatory, and according to official statistics around 40% of the population has at least one doses.

Most professions and economic sectors are back operating fully, trying to recover and adjust to the (new) economic opportunities. Many sectors however continue to notice the huge losses and stresses of the last 1,5 year. The agricultural sector saw major losses, and also the olive harvest this year is very minimal. Karama Organization continues to be a force for positive social and economic development in our communities. The focus can be switched again from emergency efforts (medical supplies and distributions) to (re)building livelihood and empowerment opportunities for our target groups. 

Karama has been supporting 6 women-led businesses since early-2021 that allow them to improve their management, increase the quality of their production and tap into new marketing channels. The women are committed and some have seen good results, while other sales are still lower than hoped for. Karama's food production unit current employs 6 women from Deheishe camp who produce daily fresh meals, pastries and other food products. So far this has been a very positive cooperation between all actors, with happy costumers and happy staff. 

Our new initiatives will include the expansion of the production capacities to more products and increasing our involvement in low-chemical vegetable production in Bethlehem region. We also hope to continue our rooftop greenhouse activities by opening a speciality store with all items related to small-scale food growing around the home. This will not only support the availability of healthy (no-chemical) fresh foods, but also increase awareness about its importance. 

Thank you for supporting our communities get back on their feet, while also getting more healthy and more independent. 

One of the supported business women talks to media
One of the supported business women talks to media
Karama remains a key actor for local agriculture
Karama remains a key actor for local agriculture
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Women in one of the greenhouses
Women in one of the greenhouses

Salaam aleikum dear friends and supporters.

We greet you with peace, with safety. Even if we haven't experienced much peace in the last weeks. Even if we maybe don't feel peacful inside ourselves. It is according to the islamic teaching and our life philosophy that we should great each other, and ourselves, and all energies around us with the words "peace be with you". We don't hold on to feelings of insecurity, or start with fear and anger, we remind eachother of the Source of Peace.

Thanks for reading and thank you for all the different ways people have reached out to us in the last few weeks. It means so much to hear your words of support and we were amazed to see the signs of solidarity in many cities around the world. Don't stop. A ceasefire is not an end to the occupation. A "return to calm" is not an end to the illegal blockade. Journalists leaving does not mean apartheid ended. Please continue to engage in any way that feels right for you.

Karama Organization continues to support the local response to COVID19 and connects regularly with local health institutes and organizations to address needs and promote adherance to health and safety regulations. One of the ways Karama hoped to make a contribution, was by undertaking a small research among our rooftop greenhouse participants to discuss and analyse how refugee communities have been impacted by the COVID19 crisis.

I had two of the most successful [vegetable] seasons during COVID 19. I was very happy to stay connected with the engineer through continuous video calls, she guided me through the entire planting seasons. It is true that I did not sell my harvest this year, but I planted a variety of crops including peppers, beans and tomatoes, which I shared with my family and neighbors. This is the most I have been thankful for the greenhouse, as it helped me in a difficult time.
- 34-year old participant from Al-Arroub Camp

Karama was amazed to see that almost all participants from the 220 greenhouses have continued succesfully planting and harvesting their greenhouses. This means the trainings in the previous years have made women capable to independently take care of their greenhouse. Production levels (kilos harvested) was also comparable to pre-COVID19. Only, women sold less. Most was distributed for free. This is likely to the harsh economic situation and a sign of solidarity among the women and their communities.

In the areas of economy and education, we are greatly concerned by the negative impact of the virus and its implications. Especially students from the UNRWA schools have suffered greatly from the closure of schools and the suspension of activities. For most of them its 1,5 years of education lost. We are afraid this impacts not only their immediate development but also their future changes on employment. Especially since they seem to have suffered more than the students that attend private schools.

Since many years I am an inventive woman and I have worked various jobs to support my family. Due to COVID19 I lost my most recent job, which was a setback for my household. I know how to stretch every shekel that I have though. Soon I will find something else to earn. But it will be much easier if can move freely again. The greenhouse is a helpful way to support my family, we eat from it and I used to bring to Karama to get some extra income.

55-year old participant from Deheishe camp.

Both the women and their husbands/main income provider were employed less, with 93% of the respondents saying their incomce is less stable currently than before the crisis. 

Remarkably however, many women report on the increased support and respect they received from their children and husband. Especially during times of lockdowns (which were many in the last 15 months) all household members spent more time together and helped each other. For example, many women engaged their children in the care for the greenhouses.


Thank you for making this possible. We hope you are encouraged to continue to engage with our cause and we would love to hear from you.

Read the full research below! LINK 

Women showing off their winter harvest
Women showing off their winter harvest

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Production continues during COVID19 crisis!
Production continues during COVID19 crisis!

A short message to our dear supporters to keep you involved in the work on the field. 

Worldwide the struggle against the coronavirus is not over, but optimism has grown due to the roll-out of different vaccinations. An optimism not yet shared in Palestine, as vaccinations have yet to be obtained by the authorities. People have kept strict lockdown rules during December which has brought the number of new cases down in most areas - however, in Gaza we are still hugely struggling with getting the outbreak under control. Your prayers and support are still very much needed! 

In the last months of 2020 Karama was working diligently to support the households that were hit hardest with the economic consequences. A successful Cash-for-Work program continued, as well as cash and food packages distributions. So far, we have employed over 70 workers during different times, with still a few more workers joining during the coming month. These activities in Deheishe camp give workers a fair temporary salary while improving public spaces at the same time. We only employ women and men who are the income-providers for their household but lost their income due to the COVID19 crisis.

Our most recent activities also contribute to a healthy, clean environment in our beautiful camp. After painting the walls and planting trees, this month our workers distributed wheeled trash bins in Deheishe as well as smaller black trash bins. This effort will make it easier for the families to collect their household waste in a central location and an uncomplicated collection by the camp’s sanitation workers. Families in the camp are very happy about this idea, and many have requested adding a bin next to their house. 

Also, an interesting effort by the team took place through a questionnaire and discussion with different beneficiaries from Karama on the impact of Corona on households in the refugee camps. Our research showed that more than 50% of the camp’s households have lost their income during the lockdown period, while almost all households (92%) are faced with less stable and unpredictable income each month since the Corona crisis started. At the same time however, three quarters of the rooftop greenhouse participants continued to work and harvest from their greenhouse, and most of them (69%) continued to benefit from the social activities and much-needed social and agricultural support either online or in-person.

For those interested we will share a report in the coming month on the impact of COVID19 on refugee camps. In the meantime, Human Rights Watch has some excellent articles on the situation of human rights under the coronavirus crisis. 

Thank you sincerely for staying in touch with our work. We wish you a safe and healthy start to 2021 and welcome any feedback or messages for you.

Do not forget to connect with us on Facebook.

Distributions in Deheishe camp
Distributions in Deheishe camp
Raddish, a lovely winter product to pick yourself!
Raddish, a lovely winter product to pick yourself!
Supporting a clean and healthy camp environment
Supporting a clean and healthy camp environment

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Example of cash for work program in the camps
Example of cash for work program in the camps

Dear readers, friends, and supporters of Karama Organization,

Thank you so much for connecting with our work and sharing in solidarity during these months of increased vulnerability and uncertainty in all parts of the world. As a global community, we truly find ourselves collectively impacted and forced to change in many ways.

The households that Karama serves have experienced both the negative impacts as well as some of the positive sides to the COVID19 crisis, that still keeps Palestine under an emergency situation. In the words of some of Karama’s participants:

“Through the coronavirus, we were forced to stay at home and limit our social circle as much as possible. Though hard, it also made my kids stay more at home and show more interest in the greenhouse we have on our roof from Karama. We now spent many afternoons as a family on the roof, planting, harvesting and chatting together next to the green space, which I really enjoyed.”

“My son did not work much during the emergency period as he could not move around freely. Though hard on him financially, on the positive side, he worked together with his younger brother on a sitting area on our roof which we decorated with lights and some beautiful flowers. Before we never had the time or energy to work and sit together on the roof, but now it has become one of our favorite family activities.”

“Even though I try to keep positive, the crisis brought me and my family a lot of stress. My husband lost his job, and each week I do not know how we can provide for our family. I have several young children who all have been out of school since March and need their education and entertainment each day – which can tire me out. It also increased my worries about them, I am afraid to let them go out much or meet with friends, in fear one of us gets sick.”

Karama has been quick since the early beginnings of the emergency in Palestine to respond with food distributions as well as health and hygiene items in coordination with local actors. As the crisis continued, the team continued to look for other ways to support vulnerable households. A dignified and effective method that we apply together with our donors and supports are direct cash transfers (with the amount depending on family size) as well as engagement of workers in Cash for Work programs in the camps. (With the selection of recipients and implementation naturally taking place in cooperation with local actors such as UNRWA and ministries.) This can help families meet their daily household needs while choosing themselves how to spend the money and set priorities.

So far we have been able to support vulnerable families with a little over 50,000 USD in cash transfers! Over 170 households in the different refugee camps have received a monthly salary that has allowed them to prioritize their health, food or educational needs. Through the innovative Cash for Work programs, this also had lead to beautiful improvements in the local communities; through painting walls and doors, renovated sheds, and planted trees. (Check out more pictures in our Facebook folder)

Karama hopes to continue with these programs as long as society needs. Many families have still NOT been able to return to work or economic activities and Karama is happy to jump in and fulfill a supportive role in society.

Thank you for making this possible!

Meaningful historical wallpaintings in Deheishe
Meaningful historical wallpaintings in Deheishe
Cash transfer as a dignified way of support
Cash transfer as a dignified way of support

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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

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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