Following the successful "Rebuild Palestine. Start with Education." community engagement campaign, a volunteering activity which Dubai Cares organized in January 2015 to assemble 50,000 school kits for the children of Gaza, the organization has recently managed the distribution of the kits to primary school students through UNRWA, one of its implementing partners in Palestine. Dubai Cares ongoing programs in Palestine support children's access to education and alleviate the psychosocial effects of the conflict on the student population.
Improving access to education and facilitating the rehabilitation of children affected by the conflict is at the heart of Dubai Cares "Rebuild Palestine. Start with Education." initiative, which also includes an AED 11 million (USD 3 million) program launched in October 2014 to alleviate the devastating effects of the 2014 seven-week military conflict on the education sector in Gaza by providing infrastructure and psycho-social support services to children.
Speaking on the importance of the initiative, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: "This was a memorable campaign for us as we had the chance to extend further support to the children of Gaza by sending them the school kits that the UAE community put together for them. Despite the fact that these children live under hazardous conditions, the people of the UAE strongly felt that they deserve the same educational opportunities as their peers in other parts of the world. I am proud that the UAE community is playing a role in ensuring children in developing countries have access to education by participating in our community initiatives as well as funding our programs. This effort stresses that the academic and psychosocial reintegration of the children of Palestine remains a priority on the global humanitarian development agenda."
Dubai Cares currently has two running programs in Palestine. In 2012, the organization partnered with ANERA in West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem to launch an Early Childhood Development program to support 10 pre-schools in West Bank, 10 pre-schools in Gaza and five pre-schools in East Jerusalem. The ongoing program comprises infrastructural renovation, teacher training focused on modern teaching and learning practices, support for parents in care and development techniques and the provision of extra-curricular activities for children such as reading campaigns.
In addition, in partnership with UNRWA, Dubai Cares launched a program working towards countering the effects of 2014's armed conflict, as well as strengthening the educational sector in Gaza. As part of the program, Dubai Cares is constructing a 20-classroom school comprising furniture as well as water and sanitation facilities in order to provide 1,500 students access to primary and lower secondary education. In addition, Dubai Cares program is also ensuring that the 175,809 children enrolled in 151 UNRWA schools are receiving weekly arts and sports classes led by specialized teachers. These classes are structured around psycho-social counseling utilizing arts and sports, and also include training to guide teachers during these classes. In addition, 1,620 students in UNRWA schools are receiving psycho-social support to develop their coping mechanisms and ease their distress. Individual support plans are also being developed between these children and counselors to identify specific issues and vulnerabilities and then formulate a response and allocate resources.
"The programs we have introduced in association with UNRWA and ANERA are critical to the humanitarian development of Palestine. Without education, the country will have to face the prospect of a working-age population ill-equipped to deal with the opportunities and challenges of the modern global economy. We strive to address these issues through our programs. However, there is still a lot of work to be done," concluded Al Gurg.
Owing to the support of the UAE community, Dubai Cares is currently reaching more than 13 million beneficiaries in 38 developing countries.