Key to Palestine NPA ( a non-profit association ) unites people from Herselt, Westerlo, Geel and Leuven ( Belgium ) who no longer find acceptable the indifference with which the Western world has been tolerating for more then 70 years now the unjustice committed towards the Palestinian people.
Facts have been loced away for far too long !
We find it important to effectively help. The NPA therefore establishes relationships with people in Palestine and tries to support projects that they initiate. On the condition that they serve community, will become self-supportive, and foresee in the needs of particularly women and children.
We try to assemble financial help by either organizing or underscoring local activities.
You can always transfer your gifts tot he NPA account: BE92 0689 0132 3623
Even small contributions can make a big difference !
Ever since 1948, with the first Israeli agression war, thousands of people from around Jericho, that had been driven from their houses, have been sheltered here. The illegal occupation of their land, a blatant violation of international la wand the Geneva Conventions, stops them from returning to a normal life. More than 40 % of them is younger than 14 years old and even their parents have known nothing but the camp life with daily survival impeded by absolutely insufficient means.
As they used to have to cook in far too small rooms for too many people, the women asked for a better, more professional kitchen to be installed. We bought all the necessities together with them. The inhabitants of the camp themselves took care of the installment of the commodities. It enables them to both foresee in their needs and to socially employ women through the production and sale of extra meals.
This cooking project prospering.
But then, the women want to expand: why not purchase a hood and a deep freezer for them to be able to buy large quantities of vegetables while they are cheap, plus a large mixer to prepare enough humus to be sold at the local market.
The NPA pays for the hood since it's so badly needed.
A problem that remains to be solved is that the women have to bring their small children as they have nobody to look after them, a dangerous situation. Which is why the first priority now is to create a play and sitting area, the benches for which were already delivered last March.
The cleaning of the necessary space has already been started with.
11 women are employed now and paid for with the earnings of the prepared meals. The day we visit, we find the cooling boxes with fresh and hygienically packed meals waiting for transport tot he schools of the camp.
The women's board started expanding works then. A second cooking space is accomodated indoors. A professional deep freezer is financed by the NPA, made to measure by a small-scale workshop in Ramallah.
Outdoors a playing and sitting area is foreseen for the children of the cooks. In parallel kitchen gardens are started, providing fresh herbs throughout the year.
Opening is scheduled by International Women's Day on 8th March !
In this kitchen 1200 meals are daily prepared for outside clients, while another 100 meals are delivered for free to the most needy inhabitants of the camp.
The garden was financed with the profit of the sale of the meals. Also courses are organised in it, as the classroom itself is in bad condition. But then the responsibles of the Women's Center plan to abolish the ruin that is next to the kitchen and to have it rebuilt. They proudly inform us about the already disposible amount of money.
This project is now self-supportive !
In their search for extra financial sources the women of the cooking project buy a typically local vegetable, called mulchia, on the market. They cannot cultivate it themselves due to permanent shortage of space and water. The mulchia leaves are picked, dried and packed into small packages that are sold at the local market.
As things are it is always a pleasure to return to these women of our first project, initiated 3 years ago now !
- The project is being continually diversified. Additional to its former activities, 3 people were recently hired to produce working clothes for hospitals (cf. picture)
- The sitting and playing area of the kitchen project, which was in need of a roof as a form of summer shelter, has been covered for that use (cf.pictures)
Beit Hanina has been for more than 20 centuries the heart of Eastern Jerusalem, the illegally occupied Arabic town. Here some brave young women indefatigably go against the tide, offering tens of children and youngsters shelter and opportunities to play and relax.
The Youth Center they run has an open space the size of a football ground, a most adequate spot for the organisation of a play ground structure. That is if there had been any commodities.
So the NPA hired local craftsmen and since March 2015 the children have been able to play and enjoy !
For the time being some 30 Bedouin families, chased by the Israeli army and therefore continuously fleeing between Jerusalem and Jericho, are staying near to Drouk. They are in need of nearly everything, most importantly drinking water.
That is why the NPA bought a series of mobile water reservoirs, one per family, and had them delivered.
The reservoirs have appeared to be very useful !
All Bedouin children of the region can go to a school that is situated at more than an hour's walk from the Drouk camp. When we were visiting there was no water, as the pump was broken, there were no ventilators, though temperatures rise easily above 40°C, no covered outdoor playground, for shadow.
The NPA consulted the school-director, as a result of which we now pay for a shelter, manufactured in a Ramallah workshop and already placed !
Mohammad, our main contact in the country, fixed 2 extra benches for free !
The water reservoirs continue to be a succes ! Pure water being available, the people feel more at home. So they are thinking about extra means for them tob e able to actually settle here.
While visiting the camp, we decided to first of all relieve the most urgent need of decent blankets, as nights may be very cold in this desert area.
Due to the succes of the previous shelter, the school-director asked us to duplicate the covered surface. So we placed another order with the same Ramallah factury as before. 2 benches will go along with it, so as for the children to be able to eat in the shadow. These benches have been delivered in the meanwhile.
Also the NPA paid for the repair of the school's printing machine, which had been broken for a while already.
Early 2017 2 second-hand laptops, supplied by sympathizers, were made available by the NPA, for the Bedouin children to be able to acquire basic ict-skills.
Already a year ago the clan chief inquired for support with the buying of date palms. But the cost of sufficiently big trees is too high for the NPA alone.
So a co-investment plan is proposed: the families who can afford it do a minimum payment themselves, those who can't are given a loan by the clan chief. The rest of the amount is paid by the NPA.
The final agreement is celebrated with a cup of coffee and endless handshakes and then it 's up to the nursery garden where the Bedouin people themselves go fort he best trees !
In this camp, a few kilometers from Ramallah, there are more than 11 000 inhabitants, 60 % of whom are younger than 24 years old. They suffer from the continous and still growing oppression by illegal jewish settlers and the extremely violent Israeli army.
An ambitious kitchen project was started, the outcome of an agreement between the women of the camp and the NPA representatives. The start was financed by the NPA, whereas craftsmen from the camp accomodated the given space. Thanks to Mohammad, our very helpfull contact fort he region, UNRWA ( the UN organisation for Palestinian refugees ) promised to finance the salaries of the 6 women cooks who start the project, until the day the kitchen can finance itself.
The Jalazone kitchen opened on 22nd of April 201 !
The kitchen is working properly and receives plenty of orders, from the camp schools, marriage celebrations, meetings in the city of Ramallah ...
That is why we bought a chicken grill with which 25 chicken can be prepared simultaniously, as well as a large worktable.
This UNRWA supported centre offers cheap, or free medical care to the inhabitants of the camp.
There is a shortage of nearly everything.
Thanks to some sympathising Belgian doctors and pharmacists small supplies of medicines could be taken along by our visiting volunteers. Extra medicines were bought by the NPA and an appliance to measure the sugar in the blood.
The commitment of the women is undeniable, but the project is suffering from growing pains. The meals are less varied than those of Ein El-Sultan. For the time being 3 women can be employed. The image of the camp obstructs possible extension to external clients.
Nevertheless the request for extra cooking utensils and a professional mixer for the preparation of large amounts of dough seems justified.
Thanks to the support from Rotary Westerlo urgent and necessary medicines and basic medical equipment could be delivered. With money, that was also offered by Rotary extra medicines could be bought.
As a result of a leaking roof, both the ceiling and a wall of the room where the kitchen is located were in bad condition. But helped financially by the NPA some people from the camp stopped the leak. The necessary restoration materials were bought in shops from the camp. Mohammad is further seeing to the restoration activities.
Heating equipment and boilers were bought as a protection against the damp cold, together with big amounts of basic cooking products.
Also the camp committee made plans for a polyvalent room next tot he kitchen, where all kinds of courses and workshops can be organized in much more pleasant circumstances.
Already new tables and chairs were supplied by local enterprises !
The repair activities that were started in the beginning of the year have now been finished.
The lack of utensils was solved, plates and dishes for the restaurant are at hand now. 'Our' Ramallah craftsman sees to a professional dough kneader, fit for the dealing with 40 kilos flour at a time, (cf picture).
Next to the kitchen, the women started a shop with their hand-made artisanal products. But then, clients remain to be attracted.
We then have our first meeting with some responsibles from the youth work. They signal the urgent need of a sports and games area, as so many young people lead a handkerchief life in the camp. We agree to try to find the necessary budget.
As usual we were able to deliver necessary medicines, and also some adapted glasses.
Also the NPA buys an extra supply of medicines in Ramallah, as well as 3 wheelchairs for patients to use freely during their treatment.
Fresh meals are prepared daily in the kitchen.
But the women ask for more diversification of our support, as a response to which basic English lessons will be started soon, mainly focusing on young women from the camp who aspire at more serious chances to obtain a job outside the camp. Even receiving foreign groups of visitors in the restaurant requires a basic knowledge of English.
In the first 3 months there will be 3 lessons a week, given by a Ramallah teacher who efficiently applied with the NPA. Preparations are being made, a classroom and other necessities looked after.
Registrations are so numerous that probably 2 groups will have to be installed.
The youth work always mentioned the necessity to be self-sufficient as to activities fort he youngsters of the camp. Participation in Ramallah initiatives is far from evident, due to a deep distrust in the outside world as a result of the insecurity caused by the continuous Jewish pressure and violence against Palestinian children. But also because of practical obstacles like the cost of transport and subscription.
Although one of the youngsters does follow Debké - a traditional Palestinian dance - in Ramallah. The NPA has committed itself to pay his transport and tuition. In return he will pass on his newly learned abilities to his fellows in the camp. Try out lessons will be started for the duration of 1 month, 3 hours a week.
Candidates are enthusiastic about the plan, (cf picture).
- The English classes are starting their second term. During the first term 17 women, ages 28 to 52, participated successfully and for 7 of them it debouched into a job outplacement procedure.
- The Debké dancing classes (for children between 6 and 12 years old) enter their second term too (cf.picture), as the non-profit association is paying for all the required equipment.
- A young Palestinian woman with finance and business degrees was attracted to coordinate the kitchen project. She will live in the camp and meanwhile is expected to raise the standards of the project over the next 3 months, for it to become more self-supplying.
- The purchase of vital medication fort he medical center is continued as usual.