WEST BANK:

With MEPI Support, Creative Provides Communities Computers and Internet Access

June 8, 2009

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The Jaba Youth Center will open a computer lab in June with the assistance of a Creative Associates’ Community Leadership Empowerment Project (CLEP) award. The lab will provide young people, college students, new graduates and other citizens alike the opportunity to take training classes and access the internet to conduct research or look for work.

The $25,000 award will provide 14 computers that will be used by young women and men in Jaba and surrounding villages in the northern West Bank governorate of Jenin. The town of Jaba, population 11,000, does not have an internet café and unemployment hovers at 70 percent. The award is also the first of its kind from a foreign donor to any organization in Jaba.

“Creative Associates is honored to partner with the Jaba Youth Club on this important project that will provide opportunities to the youth and civil society of Jaba,” said Creative’s Country Director Ben Orbach. “The leadership exhibited by Marwan Khaliliyah, Hassan Kana’n and the rest of the Jaba Youth Club’s new board is exemplary. They are working hard for the benefit of their community and we are proud to support their efforts. We look forward to visiting the computer lab and seeing the Jaba Youth Club’s great success.”

The Creative-implemented Community Leadership Empowerment Program is supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative. As of May 2009, CLEP has partnered with grassroots leadership in the Nablus, Hebron, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jenin areas to support awards in more than 60 communities for more than $1.5 million of assistance thus far. Projects meet the priorities of community leaders in villages, towns, and refugee camps across the West Bank and vary from computer labs for women’s associations to equipment for community halls to support for local scout groups and youth clubs. Project sizes are small, from $5,000 to $30,000, but have a high impact at the grassroots level by building community space and supporting empowerment in marginalized, at-risk areas.

Focusing on activities for young people, the Jaba Youth Club boasts soccer and volleyball teams, offers leadership and other educational courses, runs a summer camp and hosts cultural activities such as folklore dance performances and community events during Ramadan. Members pay symbolic annual dues and the Youth Center also receives community donations. Established in 1995, the Jaba Youth Center now has 248 members. Its board is committed to transforming the Youth Club to a place of even greater importance in Jaba’s civic life, Orbach said.

Given the active leadership of the new board, with Mr. Khaliliyah at its helm, the Youth Club is receiving strong support from the Jaba Local Council, Jenin’s Governor, other local political figures and private-sector partners in the Jenin community. The Jaba Local Council provided the Youth Center with rent-free space in a new building next to offices of the Red Crescent for an entire year, with the promise of continued support if the Youth Club leadership is successful. And the electric company is paying the running costs for the building and for the computer lab; prominent members of the community have made other contributions.

At the May 12th signing ceremony of the CLEP award, the Governor of Jenin, Qaddura Musa, lauded the efforts of the Youth Club’s board and thanked Creative for its support. Mr. Musa also said “this is the first project of its kind in the town of Jaba. I wish the Administrative Board represented by Mr. Marwan Khaliliyeh all the best of progress and success.” The Mayor of Jaba, Zia Alawneh, commended the Club’s new board for its “distinction and persevering efforts on behalf of Jaba.”

“Jaba is considered a marginalized area by international donors. . . and the computer lab will help An Najah University and Arab American University of Jenin students with their homework and research, and encourage community members of all ages to take computer lessons,” said Mr. Khaliliyah at the signing ceremony.

— Muhammed Diab, Gideon Culman and Ben Orbach

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