Describe your organisation and the unique work that it is doing. Who and what are affected by the work? How does/will the work impact people’s lives?
My initiative ‘Heritage4Fun’ aims to promote active citizenship for the protection of tangible and intangible cultural heritage in Palestine. Through my several years of working with youth, I realized that a significant segment of Palestinian youth lack awareness about the value and importance of our cultural heritage, and more specifically the historic buildings. There are many causes for this, including seven decades of living under Israeli occupation, socio-economic conditions, and lack of cultural awareness. Therefore, this initiative is needed to enhance the role of young people in public life, and to be active citizens and partners in protecting our cultural heritage, to transfer it to the next generation. In doing so, it provides a volunteer platform, where young people share their ideas and initiatives to serve their local community.
It is based in Jenin, North West Bank. Jenin receives very little attention from national and international bodies of the culture sector. Many historic sites have been demolished by locals to build commercial and residential compounds, such as Cinema Jenin.
Tell us about a project that has benefited from the training you received from us? Why was the project important? Was there anything unusual or surprising about the execution of this project?
Using the knowledge I learned during my programme courses, in November 2017 I applied for a competition for Masters graduates from Arab countries, organised by the Arab Council for Social Sciences in Beirut, Lebanon and funded by Sida. My project proposal ‘Active Youth for Heritage Conservation’, on the theme of Youth and Urban Spatial Inequality, won the competition and received a grant. I conducted four workshops and two field trips for 110 students (boys and girls) from six public schools in Jenin governorate.
Has your organisation worked on any other projects that are innovative, globally significant and can be replicated in a local market?
Currently, I am working with other small local NGOs to implement similar workshops at schools, and with two local universities. I shared my work in two regional venues in Egypt and Morocco. I hope in the future to create or participate in further collaborative work, either within the region or internationally.
What are the global issues that your project addresses (e.g., fighting climate change, preserving heritage and culture, promoting local participation)?
Through designing cultural materials and educational training for youths in a way that makes learning about history and local cultural heritage more stimulative and enjoyable, I advocate for the protection of cultural heritage, and encourage young people to participate. This also promotes the role of women as partners in the protection of Palestinian cultural heritage.
Moreover, I attempt in my initiative to address the issue of youth mental health. Thousands of people annually worldwide die by suicide, and Palestine is no exception. Therefore, fun is one of the main aspects and objectives of my work. In this video, students are singing a folklore song in a renovated palace in Sebastia, Palestine.
Beside this initiative, I research cultural heritage and development programmes in Palestine. My interests include religious folklore, commodification of culture, women’s’ economic empowerment, anti-colonial resistance, and preservation of cultural heritage.