One of the more common questions that comes up about our project concerns ways to get involved with volunteering and internships in Nablus itself. Of course, my first answer is always join our project, become a member, and we’ll help you get there!
Unfortunately, as our project is still very young, we have not created our own programs to send people to Palestine. (Not yet at least!) Rather, we collaborate with other groups and help to raise the money necessary for undertaking such an endeavor. This being said, it seemed like a great idea to compile a short list of our favorite groups and organizations. Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list; however, the groups on the list are ones with whom we have a working relationship, or ones that stood out as particularly interesting or exemplary. Also, it is important to note that this list is non-sequential, the fourth option is just as good as the first – it is up to you to decide which organization or group best fits your needs!
1. Project Hope
Mission: We help create safe and supportive spaces where children, youth and other community members can learn, thrive, and grow. Through our educational, artistic and recreational programs, we especially aim to empower Palestinian children and youth who have grown up in a context of violence and occupation, giving them the tools they need to access a better future (Project Hope Website).
This group organizes educational and recreational activities for communities affected by the devastating ongoing violence and unrest. The areas of program instruction include language, art, technology, and sports. They offer classes on English and French, computer and internet literacy, blogging, painting, graphic novel design, film making for girls, various sports, dance, and more!
Volunteers must be over 18 years old, they ask for a minimum commitment of one month, and the program fees are very low. Volunteers are expected to contribute 500 shekels (approx. US $145 ) to housing costs, as well as, a US $100 contribution to the materials budget – this budget helps to pay for notebooks, pencils, crayons, etc. Besides those costs the only thing volunteers must pay for are airfare, food, and whatever fun activities they choose to partake it. Volunteers are housed in a beautiful and historic Nablus home, which is located just across the street from the Project Hope office. This home includes washer/dryer, WiFi access, kitchen facilities, and a TV and DVD player.
This is truly a great organization. It is an excellent, cost-conscious way to travel to and volunteer in Palestine.
Mission: To enable children, youth, and parents in disadvantaged areas of the Middle East to realize their potential as healthy, active and responsible family and community members (Tomorrow’s Youth Organization Website).
This group uses an approach that focuses on comprehensive development, cultural diplomacy, and sustainable impact in order to achieve their goals. They have several great programs which include international internships, youth development, women’s empowerment, and early childhood education. The international internships program should be especially interesting for those looking to volunteer in Palestine. There are opportunities for undergraduates, recent graduates, and young professionals to come to Nablus and work with professionals full-time, for a 10 week session, in order to create enrichment programs for children and adults from refugee camps.
These internships are not paid; however, TYO provides housing, three meals a day, and many educational trips throughout the West Bank. Information on TYO’s current internships can be found online, at their website, or on Idealist.org. This is a excellent option for current students or recent graduates; it looks great on a resume, it is cost-conscious, and it is a fantastic opportunity to get professional experience in a foreign country.
Mission: We aim to build a community of “backpacktivists” that are socially, environmentally and politically aware of their impact in the communities they travel to and live in (Operation Groundswell Website).
This group is different from a lot of volunteer organizations one might come across; in that, it sets up backpacking trips through many different countries (Israel and Palestine is just one potential option) and each trip has a different focus and goal; for example, encouraging participants to immerse themselves in culture, working on community-driven projects, testing physical limits, or critically examining the region they are visiting. The program that travels to the Middle East is called “OG Middle East Behind the Headlines”: one session runs from May 11 to June 15 and the other runs from June 23 to July 28.
Participants will live in an apartment in Jerusalem and partake in several activities; such as, walking on both sides of the separation line to explore the rich graffiti, taking a tour of Hebron, and (our personal favorite) hiking overnight to the Dead Sea where they will arrive at sunrise, jump into the Sea of Galilee, and explore the beaches of Tel Aviv. This sounds like a truly amazing trip!!
The program fee is $2,800 and all participants are asked to fundraise an additional $1,000. Though the $1,000 mark might at first seem a bit steep, participants often cite this aspect of the project as something they found to be incredibly rewarding, because while 10% goes to offsetting carbon emissions and 5% goes to administration of funds (maintaining an interactive fundraising platform and bank transfer fees), a whopping 85% goes directly to in-country development projects.
This opportunity is somewhat more pricey than others on the list; however, it is affordable with the right planning, it contributes directly to a good cause, and it promises the adventure of a lifetime (imagine the Sea of Galilee at sunrise!) Definitely check it out if you are looking for a unique way to not only see the world, but give back while doing it.
“TFP serves the poorest neighborhoods, the Balata and Askar refugee camps and the villages around Nablus. In these areas unemployment is well over 80%. The majority of the information necessary to innovate, invent and create is primarily available in English. By giving our students access to that information, we give them access to opportunity” (About TFP).
This group has various volunteer opportunities available , as well as, an internship opportunity for those who are interested. Volunteers are expected to commit to a three month term. The group does not provide airfare or cover food costs; however, it does provide accommodations for all its teachers, and even supplies a small stipend for full-time volunteers.
The internship opportunity is a little bit different; in that, rather than focusing on a specific set of classes, interns are given more say in what kind of activities they engage in. They are given the opportunity to interact with NGO professionals, they receive an in-depth look at how a successful NGO is run, and they assist with day to day management of the project. There is a one-time $100 program fee, and weekly $25 dollar housing fee.
This organization is very cost-friendly, there is a variety opportunities to fit different needs, and it offers an authentic glimpse into everyday life in Nablus.