By Monica Awad
Jenin, occupied Palestinian territory, 20 August 2007. Palestinian children and teens continue to bear the brunt of the current Palestinian –Israeli conflict and the civil unrest. Yet, children and adolescents residing in refugee camps have been more hard hit by the effects of this conflict. The closure regime imposed by Israel has denied may workers to work in Israel. Subsequently, unemployment has risen and socio-economic conditions in the camps have deteriorated.
In Jenin refugee camp, where almost 16,000 people reside, the adolescent friendly learning center is the only outlet for young people. It is open 6 days a week, three days for girls and three days for boys.
“The centre changed my life. Prior to enrolling in this center, I was bored at home doing nothing and I had the feeling that I was staying in a very small suffocating society” said Salwa, 15 year-old girl.
The Jenin Adolescent Friendly leaning center provides young people the opportunity to express their views, enhance their skills while reaching out to the world. Adolescents like Israa and Salwa who see nothing beyond the boundaries of their camp, have a chance to interact with the world.
Reaching out to the world
“When I enrolled in the center, I became part of a global village which I had not expected. I gained ample of knowledge while being entertained. I am able to communicate with friends around the world” said Salwa while chatting on the computer.
Adolescent friendly learning centers help develop adolescents’ literacy skills in Arabic and Math and provided them with sports and music skills.
“I love several topics here; Arabic, Mathematics, English and computer” said 15-year old Salwa. For young people like Salwa and Isra’a, the center developed their skills and strengthened their personalities. “The centre is very important to me. It helped change my character, while developing my self esteem” added Isra’a.
Adolescent-friendly learning centers like the on in Jenin reaches out to marginalized adolescents in remote areas. It provides young people with learning activities such as literacy skills, reading and information technology, extra-curricular activities such as sports, music and drama, and life skills based education.
Thanks to the financial support from the Canadian International Development agency (CIDA) who made these activities possible.