Investing in Palestinian communities as the grassroots level is vital to achieving tangible improvements in the overall health of the population. There is a need to empower communities with the knowledge and know-how to become self-reliant and use local resources to help solve problems. Self-reliance is increasingly important as already marginalized communities become more cut off from each other and from urban centers because of checkpoints and the Separation Wall. Many communities are deprived of vital health and social services which are under-developed or non-existent in their own communities (or have become inaccessible due to increasing poverty levels), or they lack access to knowledge to assist in their individual and communal development. The Foundation develops long-lasting relationships in the benefiting communities based on mutual trust, understanding and cooperation, with the common vision to make tangible positive changes such as:
- Empowering women with knowledge to improve their health and the health of their families.
- Empowering youth with life-skills to avoid dangerous behaviors, lead healthy lives and feel they can positively influence the development of their communities.
- Assisting communities in identifying and developing local resources that will assist in their development.
The following are descriptions of community empowerment projects implemented by Juzoor:
Reproductive Health Promotion in Communities
Juzoor staff have a long history of working with women’s and community groups on a range of reproductive health issues that serve to empower women’s awareness of their reproductive health rights, and promote their individual development, including providing trainings on breast self-exam and preparing for labor and delivery, producing a curriculum and manual on women’s reproductive health rights (in cooperation with the WCLAC - Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling), and building women’s awareness of the elements of quality reproductive health care and encouraging them to demand quality care. Juzoor also serves as a key resource that local organizations can call upon for technical support, materials and presentations.
In response to the increasing needs and demands to address the mental and psychosocial health of Palestinian people, Juzoor places psychosocial health and well-being on the top of its agenda. Juzoor intervenes at various levels (community, provider, institutional) targeting different groups (children, women, youth, refugees, and health professionals) and networks with other specialized organizations in the field to offer comprehensive services and support. It implements projects that respond to communities’ psychosocial needs and provides them with the necessary support to enable them to survive the ongoing critical situation.
Social Support for Children
Through its affiliation with the Italian Peace Table Juzoor has provided financial sponsorship to children with health and social challenges such as children with diabetes, or children whose families have lost their sources of income.
Since 2002 Juzoor has worked with women who have experienced loss, particularly in the Jenin camp and surrounding villages, and in the refugee camps throughout the Old City and newer areas of Nablus. Activities were designed to address the psychosocial aspects and implications of the conflict on women subjected to loss. Since many women were not empowered to deal with their trauma and take on their new social and economic roles, Juzoor’s activities included training and support by forming groups using an approach called “Women-to-Women”. In addition to the programs mentioned above, Juzoor has implemented the following psychosocial interventions to empower communities:
- In 2000 Juzoor managed the emergency response component of UNRWA’s psychosocial health program and mobilized nine professional institutions across the country to provide referrals to mental health services across the West Bank, and coordinated the work of more than 20 community organizations to provide direct psychosocial activities to refugee populations.
- Juzoor also implemented several psychosocial projects under ECHO’s emergency program targeting villages in the northern West Bank.
- Managed two projects under UNDP and the Belgian Government to respond to the challenging and ever-shifting social-health difficulties that women face as a result of the complex political situation. Juzoor designed appropriate training materials, conduct training courses, and implemented activities on the ground using women-to women and child-to-child approaches.
Support to Communities in Crisis
At the onset of the Intifada, Juzoor initiated an emergency hotline to support its network of health professionals who were able to connect women in labor who could not reach health facilities during the crisis with expert physicians, nurses and midwives who were able to either reach the delivery site to attend, or to provide guidance by phone. Providers attending women who developed unusual complications at home were also able to reach expert advice from leading obstetricians through the hotline. Midwives, who mobilized to support the women in their communities, were the backbone of this successful hotline service, which has systematized and elaborated into a database of active and/or available reproductive health providers throughout the West Bank.
To address the declining nutritional status among children, Juzoor is implementing an innovative project entitled “Combating Poverty of Palestinian women and Improving Nutritional Status of School Children.” The project aims to both empower Palestinian rural women and address children’s nutritional needs. The project strategy is to provide support to women groups in selected villages in the West Bank, training them on business, marketing and nutrition skills, enabling them to run the canteens in village schools. The women’s groups make healthy, nutritional food to offer in the canteens on a daily basis, thus helping to change the prevailing pattern of children eating unhealthy snacks in school.
In 2006 Juzoor began implementation of a project called “Min Ajlek Ya Quds” in a group of Jerusalem schools. The project targets youth ages 13 to 17 with various activities that help to inspire them to develop not only themselves, but the world around them. The main concept of the project is a Youth Parliament, which is a representative body made up of students who are elected by their classmates. The Parliament provides a forum for youth to prioritize, address and take action on different issues related to the challenges they face today in Jerusalem. The program also involves a strong community service component, and Parliament members are encouraged to undertake projects that benefit the wider society.
Keef Assiha is a monthly educational public health magazine that is published in Arabic. The magazine addresses all sectors of Palestinian society and aims to provide basic as well as scientific and practical information concerning topics in medicine, health, and the environment. The magazine also responds to individuals’ most frequently asked questions and inquiries and contains a directory of health providers and services throughout the West Bank. In addition, it offers room for readers’ questions and queries as well as responses from medical and health specialists. Juzoor conducts editorial and technical review of the articles, and selects the articles to be included in the current issue.