Onwards and Upwards

Thank you to everyone for your support. I did not expect such a positive response so I am glad you enjoy reading my blog posts!

So I started my first day at work on Sunday (I know Arab countries are weird and start the week on a Sunday). I will be spending the next three months working for an NGO called the Welfare Association, an organization that has been established since the 1980s. I am going to be leading a project to develop an online portal for the organisation – more details to follow when I fully understand what I’m bloody doing.

The Welfare Association works on a number of projects but their main objective as an organization is to push Palestinians forward as a people. The focus of my work specifically will be on the YES program, one of their community development projects. YES (Youth Employment Services) aims to help young Palestinians entering the labour market by facilitating communication between fresh graduates and employers and creating networks to close the information gap between them. Providing young and capable Palestinians with the tools to move forward in their careers will no doubt have long-term benefits for the economy and help reduce poverty in our communities.

40% of Palestinian graduates in the West Bank and 63% in the Gaza strip remain unemployed (and those are just the educated ones!). This is primarily because of a lack of availability of information about new job opportunities and a lack of financial and technical support for new business start-ups. I can see a lot of potential in the Palestinians (entrepreneurial talent, start up ideas, highly skilled graduates). I mean the West Bank has one of the highest university enrolment rates in the MENA region (I know I was surprised too!) but unemployment among youth remains very high. By connecting graduates with potential employers and entrepreneurs with potential financiers, hopefully we will be able to overcome this problem.

On a side note you know when they say, “If you cant beat ‘em, join ‘em?” Well in the case of Palestinians, I think we should do that with the Jews. (Ok maybe not join ‘em but learn from them). If you’ve never heard of or read about AIPAC, I would suggest you look them up. AIPAC is a bipartisan organization that raises millions every year from the international Jewish community. Like Palestinians, Jews are dispersed all over the world and through organizations like AIPAC, they have managed to find a common platform to form ties and support one another despite their geographical distance.

A proportion of the money AIPAC raises from the international community is used to subsidize and support Israelis living in settlements in Palestine. If we could learn from them and find a platform for Palestinians to support and connect with one another, well I think that would be a huge step in the right direction wouldn’t it?

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