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“The Power of Culture confronts the Culture of Power” in Gaza

"We always try to create a social change, improve their self-confidence, freedom of expression, critical thinking."

Jerusalem24Nawa Association for Culture and Arts is a non-profit association founded in 2014 by a group of educated, motivated, and dedicated young women and men to help empower their local community through culture, arts, and non-formal education. Jerusalem24 talked to the media and public relations coordinator at NAWA, Farah Abu Qassim, on Vibes.

NAWA has had a partnership with UNESCO since 2016 when it started thinking of renovating the Al-Khader monastery in Deir Al Balah, which is one of the ancient existing monasteries in town. Abu Qassim says, “the idea of transforming a religious venue (Islamic and Christian) was challenging, so our partnership with UNESCO came as we were looking for high-level technical expertise in renovating the monastery. We contacted RIWAQ in the West Bank and IWAN in Gaza, who connected us with UNESCO providing us with 100% funding for the renovation.”

NAWA’s renovation of the monastery came with the need for a library for the community and official educational resources. The library targets all community segments.

Abu Qassim adds that as they’re located in the middle area of the Gaza Strip in Deir Al Balah, NAWA believes that there’s an urgent need to link the direction of their 2022-2026 strategic plan interventions to the land, people and society, by focusing on enabling the beneficiaries.

“We will focus on lifelong capabilities; inclusive and innovative learning, focusing on work technical skills, we try to engage the community in our thinking and planning for the activities, and we try to cooperate and respond to the need of the community,” Abu Qassim explains.

Palestinian children, Gazans in particular, are exposed to conflict-related violence at all times, which can lead to an increase in school dropouts, Qassim says. “NAWA always tries to focus on the well-being of our beneficiaries, and on coping mechanisms for students and teachers. That’s why we believe that the children of Gaza are in need of well-structured activities”.

NAWA started to implement the strategic plan mainly to achieve the needed impact on the children. The topics it focuses on are inclusive education, interpersonal skills, work technical competencies, cultural interventions, collecting tangible and intangible heritage from the local area from Deir Al-Balah, self-help programs, art, recreational activities, providing also psycho-social support.

NAWA targets all segments of the community and provides them with the support they need. They recently cooperated with the Ministry of Education to renovate all libraries in schools in the Deir Al Balah area. NAWA renovated a total of 11 resource rooms.

“Being in Gaza which has been besieged for over 15 years, it affects all sectors of life in Gaza and all segments of the community. People lost hope in finding their own way in life due to the ongoing blockade and continuous war escalations on Gaza. At NAWA we try to act as the door to never-ending learning opportunities, in order to reach a true change to the way for the community of how to think and deal with obstacles and challenges we face.”

Qassim says they believe they do good to the community and try to offer the best. “We work under a well-structured strategic plan supervised by a very professional means system that monitors the social impact on the children. We always try to create a social change, improve their self-confidence, freedom of expression, critical thinking”, she adds that NAWA has noticed the importance of their work on the children’s improving reading habits and accessibility of having books and visiting libraries either at the schools or Al Khader library.

“We could also note the impact and outcome of our intervention with them after publishing the first Palestinian heritage album (Dabba Ya Galbi Dabba, 2021), collected from the women of the local area in Deir Al-Balah,” Qassim explains.

NAWA acts as the only service access point to the community: it is the only place that offers and provides all interventions. “NAWA is a non-stop learning environment whether for the beneficiaries or us as employees,” says Qassim.

Listen to the full Vibes interview below.

Nadeen Alshaer

Alshaer is a Palestinian journalist, a Birzeit University graduate with a B.A. in TV and Radio Broadcasting Journalism. Alshaer has 6 years of experience in journalism. She currently works as a reporter, editor and presenter/producer for PBC-Palestine TV and Jerusalem24 radio. She’s a UN and Kelley School of Business alumna.

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