The present time is the son of the past and the father of the future. In the same sense, young people are the generation of the present but they are the fathers of tomorrow and the builders of the future. Accordingly, PMRS is dedicated to paying special attention to Palestinian youth. Since the founding of PMRS in 1979, children and youth have always comprised an essential focus and concern within PMRS’ every one of the primary health care programs.
Based on a comprehensive approach towards health, combining physical, mental and spiritual components, the entry point to achieving high levels of health must be by way of the family, schools, institutions and the society at large. PMRS is dedicated to empowering young people and enabling them to take on an active role in shaping public health awareness and culture. This goal is sought by PMRS through the operation of a number of community-based youth centers located throughout the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt)..
Youth centers have provided the platform to carry out various types of activities, including:
1. Helping young people achieve self-realization by employing their strengths in the process of health, social change and development. The promotion of positive concepts, values and principles is envisaged to encourage healthy behaviors and habits that can lead to the nurturing of active involvement in building the desired future both the individual and society at large.
2. Providing an environment that encourages young people to acquire necessary knowledge and life skills in a way that fosters the integration of emotional and logical intelligence.
3. Empowering young people with the different cognitive disciplines and general rules that regulate social dynamics, with particular emphasis on the Palestinian society, to help them explore its dynamics and structure.
Throughout the five years of its existence, the Youth Program has maintained a philosophy that reflects a deeply rooted and comprehensive vision of problems facing young people. These problems, many of which stem from or are aggravated by Israeli policies, include the feeling of cultural alienation or withdrawal, unemployment, material poverty, in addition to other youth-specific social problems such as adolescent whims, identity issues, school dropouts, and the risk of delinquency. These problems persist under the pressures of a global climate pushing towards economic and human “development”, information revolution and globalization, promoting democracy, privatization and free markets.
This situation has created a superficial consumptive manner of thinking and posed enormous challenges for young people, which can be addressed only by diversified, multidisciplinary knowledge. Therefore, the approach adopted in working with youth has to be multifaceted and diverse in order to match the complex nature of both the global and local environments.
To this end, the objectives of the Youth Program have been identified as follows:
1. To assist young people in creating their identity and self-image.
2. To facilitate active participation of youth in the different PMRS programs at the planning, implantation and follow up levels.
3. To promote health as a style and a tool for active involvement in shaping community awareness.
4. To provide young people with skills needed for creating a better future.
5. To explore and adopt the concepts and values needed for the future of informatics and creativity.
6. To resist the sense of ideological and cultural alienation and separation from the local community and promote values of serving the community.
7. To introduce youth to the concepts of democratic life and help create a real democratic society in ideological and practical terms.
8. To foster youth networking at the national and international levels in order to promote change and be open to change in the external environment.
9. To promote and revive the concepts of volunteer work.
10. To create a youth leadership council that is able to address the issues of policies, strategies, leadership, management and implementation, as well as to advocate for laws and legislations that address youth issues.
Community activities and national events:
The focus on these activities stems from a belief that young people comprise an important part of the national and social movement and need to be involved in their communities and in responding to their needs. In addition, such activities are envisaged to strengthen positive youth attitudes and skills in regard to social interaction.
• Participation in marches on national events.
• Organizing open days for children, elderly people and Thalassemia patients.
• Providing first aid and emergency response in confrontation sites.
• Fundraising for the benefit of certain health and charitable societies.
• Donating blood and conducting systematic activities to ensure the availability of blood donors around the clock and in times of emergency.
• Addressing certain social problems, such as substance abuse and smoking. This is carried out by a group of young volunteers within a program named “Scented Places”.
• Based on our belief in voluntary work as a cornerstone for building a cohesive and solid society, the Youth Program organizes special days of voluntary work, such as in the olive picking season and the cleaning of streets and pavements. In addition, young people actively volunteer in the organization of summer camps and the various popular and national events.
The Youth program organizes a number of different health activities. A major component is the field work on providing first aid to the wounded, transporting martyrs from confrontation sites and making sure that highly competent first aid workers are available in confrontation sites to manage crisis situations and help in evacuation efforts. The role of the Youth Program in offering emergency response has been prominent throughout the years of the Al-Aqsa Intifada. As a result of the community education and training provided by the Program, an apparent positive change has occurred in how members of the public deal with emergency situations and tend to the wounded.
Additionally, the Program helps in creating first aid teams in villages adjacent to the apartheid Wall in order to be available in situations of emergency, such as in public anti-Wall marches.
Moreover, teams from the Program accompany scout activities organized by the different educational and youth institutions. In summer camps, the Program plays a major role in educating the participants on public health issues, hygiene and other health-related issues.
In cooperation with the different PMRS programs, the Youth Program organizes health fairs offering the public a number of health tests, including blood tests (blood grouping and hemoglobin), visual acuity test, dental examination, and height and weight measurement. In these fairs, health education materials and free samples of tooth pastes are also distributed.
Youth have a major role in raising health awareness in the underprivileged villages and areas. In these activities, the Program cooperates with other PMRS programs to ensure a higher level of quality and impact. Cooperation and partnership are also sought and maintained with other institutions, particularly in community education on the prevention and management of specific diseases, such as Thalassemis, AIDS and some skin diseases.
Peer educators project:
In cooperation with Women’s Health Program, a number of young men and women aged over 18 years from Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron areas received training to become peer educators on issues of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), particularly HIV/AIDS, and the related social problems and prevention methods. The training included an intensive training day on advocacy methods and project management skills.
Following the training, a youth conference was held in Ramallah for two days, with the participation of all peer educators from the West Bank. In the conference, peer educators developed an action plan for 2006, which is currently being implemented.
The Youth Leadership Summer Camp:
This camp was carried out with the aim of strengthening the concept of teamwork and developing the skills of participants in leadership, negotiation, and conflict resolution, as well as increasing their capacity in community work and promotion of democratic principles. The we-days camp was enjoyed by 100 male and female participants in the age group 13-18 years.
• Groups of young people were created within the camp, and a group coordinator and assistant were elected by the group members. Each group developed an action plan for the camp, thus involving participants in the camp’s plan.
• The plans of the different groups were combined through a process of negotiation among the groups. The groups identified their candidates for the post of camp coordinator and assistant coordinator. The groups carried out negotiations and supported each other based on similar or joint programs of action. • Pre-electoral activities were conducted, including an electoral campaign and a special debate on the electoral programs for the camp.
• Following the elections, work was initiated in coordination with the camp administration to implement the proposed program, develop new plans and make the necessary adjustments to the program of action.
• The process was carried out under the supervision of a team composed of 22 male and female volunteers, who received intensive training on the camp’s activities.
Training topics addressed in the camp:
1. Icebreaking and team building (teamwork)
2. Democratic concepts
6. Lobbying and persuasion skills
7. Management and leadership
1. Promoting young leadership
2. Developing participants’ skills and abilities
3. A theater committee
4. An arts committee
5. Arts and creative activities
6. Field visits and trips
7. A full report on the camp with photos, which was distributed to all participants in the form of a CD
“Ibda'” (Creativity) youth magazine:
This variety youth magazine is published by the Club of Creative Youth established in Ramallah Youth Center in 2004. The idea of the magazine was expanded to reach most West Bank cities. Recently, the fourth issue of the magazine was published.
“Know Your Homeland” field visits:
Field visits were made to a number of Palestinian villages and towns in coordination with local institutions, such as youth clubs and village councils. The visiting groups were introduced to the areas and main historical sites. This activity aims at creating links with youth in rural areas and engaging them in the activities of the Center.
Visit to Bethlehem town
Visit to Ras Karkar village
Church of Nativity
Festival of elderly people:
In cooperation with UNRWA psychosocial support program and on the occasion of the Day of Elderly People, the Youth Center organized a festival for elderly people from the women center in Al-Am’ari refugee camp and the surrounding area. The festival was organized on March 22, 2005. It started with a march from Manara Square in Ramallah towards the designated festival area – Al-Kaikab Park, accompanied with scout groups from Al-Am’ari Youth Center. Representatives of a number of governmental organizations and NGOs participated in the march. The festival also included a number of speeches, arts activities and lunch.
Fun days for children:
The Youth Program seeks to address the enormous level of stress experienced by children under the prevailing very difficult situation, especially in areas that are still exposed to aggressions by the Israeli occupying forces. To this end, volunteers from the Youth Program organize several activities to relieve the stressful impact of the situation on children’s mental status and consequently on their domestic and social behavior.
Heritage – people’s memory:
We care of heritage as much as we care of health and training. The Youth Program seeks to adopt, improve and shape artistic talents and creativities in accordance with the objectives and strategies of the Program and the institution. Activities include folklore dance, theater and drama.
Folklore groups are active in Nablus, Ramallah and Bethlehem. A child theater group is also available in Ramallah.
The Youth Program organizes different training courses that respond to the different needs as dictated by the geographic area, as well as by the academic and practical needs of young people. Courses include:
• Basic and advanced computer courses
• Basic and advanced first aid training
• Courses on civil defense and evacuation
• Different language training courses
• Life skills and building the capacity of young leaders
• Training of trainers courses
• Courses in planning and management
These courses are usually coordinated with institutions from the governmental, NGO and private sectors. Target groups include students, teachers, security forces, police and others.
International Thalassemia Day:
Education on thalassemia is a major topic addressed by the Youth Program on a continuous basis in coordination with a number of institutions, particularly Thalassemia Patients Friends Society.
Activities in this regard include fundraising for the benefit of thalassemia patients, organization of open days to provide patients with recreational outlets and psychosocial support as well as to increase awareness of this illness.