TYO Intern Alumni: Where are They Now?

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Rosie Chapman

I think TYO changed me for good. My experience there gave me confidence in my own abilities and changed the way I saw the world.

Originally from Honiton, England Rosie taught Sports for adolescents, Fitness class as part of The Women’s Group and Professional Competency at An-Najah University as an intern at TYO Nablus in the fall of 2013.

What was your favorite moment/story from your time with TYO? 

My favourite moment from TYO was probably one of the times we played basketball in the children’s sports class. All the kids played together really well and looked so happy the whole time! It was a really satisfying and happy moment for me and the volunteers.

What do you miss most about Nablus?

I miss everyone that I worked with at TYO, all the staff, interns, volunteers, women, children and students – they were all truly amazing!

What have you been up to after leaving Nablus and what are your plans for the future?

At the moment I am studying for my Masters in Gender and International Development at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. After my Masters I am hoping to get a job in women’s rights advocacy in London or maybe in the Middle East.

How do you think TYO affected you personally and professionally?

I think TYO changed me for good. My experience there gave me confidence in my own abilities and changed the way I saw the world. Professionally, it has enriched my studies and has helped me feel able to apply for a wide range of jobs.

Do you have any advice for anyone considering applying for a TYO internship?

I would encourage people to definitely go for it! TYO was one of the best and most worthwhile things I’ve ever done.

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TYO Intern Alumni: Where are They Now?

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Rachel Alumni Pic

Rachel Widany

TYO gave me more tools and experience than you could imagine coming out of a four month experience. If you take the program seriously they really set you up for excellence in a challenging field, and I could not be more grateful for the experience.

Originally from Pittsburg, PA Rachel taught Games & Sports, Fitness IT as part of The Women’s Group and Professional Competency at An-Najah University as an intern at TYO Nablus in the fall of 2013.

What was your favorite moment/story from your time with TYO? 

My favorite moment at TYO took place during a game we were playing outside near the end of my session. One of the boys I had been working with was very angry – always either fighting or storming around and refusing to participate. He had a very difficult home life, but about eight weeks into the program I finally saw him start to make eye contact with us and smile, which was a huge victory in and of itself. One day we started to play a game that relied heavily on cooperation and patience, something I never could have attempted at the start of my session. I was nervous when this boy was put on a team with the one other child he fought with most frequently, but they surprised me by working together perfectly and encouraging and supporting each other. Watching that breakthrough was a huge moment for me.

What do you miss most about Nablus?

My amazing volunteers and translators and the TYO balcony looking out over Nablus. Most of all, my kids and getting to spend my time playing games with them and watching them grow.

What have you been up to after leaving Nablus and what are your plans for the future?

I just completed a year working as the Senior Program Manager for the NGO Exponential Education in Ghana. I’m currently volunteering with a refugee resettlement agency before beginning my master’s degree in public policy at the University of Edinburgh.

How do you think TYO affected you personally and professionally?

Personally, I was really forced to grow through the challenges of working with this population in this setting. I made amazing friends and memories, and discovered how happy it made me to work with kids. Professionally, TYO gave me more tools and experience than you could imagine coming out of a four month experience. If you take the program seriously they really set you up for excellence in a challenging field, and I could not be more grateful for the experience.

Do you have any advice for anyone considering applying for a TYO internship?

Do it! And don’t be afraid to go.

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#LikeAGirl

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Do you remember the #LikeAGirl video that took the world by storm in 2014?

Now, Always is back with a new video reminding us what it means to be unstoppable #LikeAGirl:

A TYO, we focus our programs heavily on women’s and girl’s empowerment. Read a few quotes from our program participants and learn more about their stories by clicking the links:

“My interest in volunteering at TYO stemmed from my positive experiences as a child beneficiary at TYO. When I was younger I used to attend classes at TYO. I was in a bad situation and frustrated at that time, but TYO opened new doors for me to have my hope in life back again. At the time I really appreciated that TYO accepted me as a girl. I just wanted to be able to play the same as boys, and was so thankful to find TYO in a culture that doesn’t allow the girls to play out of the homes as boys do.”

Mayyada, TYO volunteer

 

“There is no other place where I feel so comfortable and relaxed. As a woman and mother in our society, you carry a huge burden on your shoulders; as soon as I walk through TYO’s doors, I feel that the burden is released. I enjoy meeting other women from around Nablus the most. At home, I only interact with my relatives and my close neighbors; if I speak up and share my dreams or day-to-day challenges, I am judged and critiqued to the point that I do not feel comfortable or free to speak about myself. At TYO, I not only have a right to speak about my dreams and challenges, but everyone pushes me to do so. Also, the women in my classes come from all over Nablus and the surrounding villages, which removes the kind of closeness and judgment that I experience at home.”

Salam, TYO mother and TWG participant

 

“In my village, it’s not acceptable for a woman to work in any field other than working as a teacher- certainly not owning one’s own business. But I am confident that I can- and will- do this, and show other women and girls in my community that they must achieve their dreams.”

Nuhood, TYO WISE woman entrepreneur 

 

“I have greatly appreciated TYO’s mixed gender environment, where boys and girls are integrated in the same classes and male and female volunteers work together in those classrooms. That is not something you would typically see in Nablus or in Palestine overall. It has taught me a lot as a future teacher, particularly how you can use mixed gender classrooms to increase the confidence of girls and teach them that they are equal in their abilities to boys.” – Asmaa, TYO volunteer

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Thumbs up for girl power!

 

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5 Ways to Strengthen ECE

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The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science recently published a new Call to Action and Policy Brief about how to fill children’s potential, through Early Childhood interventions. Through their extensive research they concluded that following five actions can make the greatest difference in children’s lives:

  1. Integrate nutrition and child development interventions for young children and their families, wherever possible. This includes interventions that have both nutrition and health components delivered simultaneously to the families and their children, with the objective that they reinforce each other and are cost-effective.
  2. Focus on learning and nutrition in early childhood by promoting high-quality family care. Early in life, adequate nutrition and consistent, responsive parenting promote brain development, social-emotional competencies and school-readiness.
  3. Adapt interventions to address the local capacities and constraints of families and communities. The setting and location of interventions should be adaptable to meet unique local needs. A combination of home and center-based delivery models can ensure a broad reach, while still recognizing and supporting the family’s role in promoting children’s well being.
  4. Identify the best practices and appropriate indicators in an integrated delivery of interventions through focused research and program evaluation. A globally accepted set of measures and indicators is needed to ensure the successful evaluation of integrated interventions. An accepted set of indicators standardizes reporting procedures and allows for the comparison of effective components across locations.
  5. Mobilize the endorsements of leaders across intergovernmental and government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, academia, and others in civil society to bring effective interventions to scale and sustain them. Just as the science of early childhood development and nutrition requires a consensus from multiple disciplines, the support of integrated interventions must also come from a wide array of stakeholders. These partnerships allow for the alignment of priorities, the pooling of limited resources, and access to the evidence base necessary to ensure effective scale-up.

Core relay race

Early Childhood Education (ECE) is a major priority to us at TYO. Through our multi generational approach to learning, parents and children participate in parallel programming to promote healthy lives. We target mothers, Palestinian children’s primary caregivers, in our approach to strengthening our ECE programs, conduct parent-teacher conferences and make frequent home visits to continue follow-up. We also understand the value of mobilizing leaders in the Nablus community to take a stand in support for ECE interventions. This is a global priority and more can be done to ensure optimal growth and development of the world’s children — how will you help?

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In Memory of Thomas Wolfe

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TYO mourns the passing of Tom Wolfe, our dear friend and long-time supporter of TYO and its work in Palestine. Thank you for all that you have done to change the lives of children, women and youth in Nablus.

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World Day Against Child Labour 2015

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In 2002, The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour to bring international attention to the issue of child labor. Every year on June 12, the world comes together to work towards combating this crisis.

Child labor is a problem that plagues some of the poorest regions of the world. And Nablus is no exception. Children feel pressure to help support their families and often, children must forgo schooling in order to work and make money. Workplaces where children frequent – factories, landfills, markets and streets – are not safe environments. Laboring can negatively affect a child’s education, limiting his potential to grow and and become successful in the future. Students end up spending all of their free time working instead of studying, or spending no time in school at all.

ahmad child labor

Ahmad digs through trash dumps outside of his refugee camp in Nablus to find scrap metal to sell at the market. Everyday, he finds wires that must be stripped of their plastic in order to be resold.

The 2015 World Report on Child Labour has startling statistics (click the download link at the bottom of this page to view the full report) that shed light on the subject. The World Report states that “children benefiting from good education and from a healthy developmental environment are more likely to be equipped with the necessary competencies and life skills to make a successful transition to working life during adolescence and early adulthood.” The report continues to explain, “Hazardous work among adolescents who are above the general minimum working age but not yet adults (i.e. those in the 15–17 years age group) constitutes a worst form of child labour and a violation of international labour standards.” With regards to Palestine in particular, studies reveal that early school leavers, particularly children under the age of 15, are at greater risk of remaining outside the world of work altogether as adults, by nearly 50%. Jordan and Egypt are also facing challenges as the majority of their adolescent laborers are involved in hazardous work: 61.3% and 64.4% respectively.

Child Labor 2015 Pic

Ibrahim works as a tailor in the Old City of Nablus, making $5. He faces pressure to do more in the factory, but he only glues and threads buttons because he is scared of the dangerous sewing machines.

The report continues by saying, “Children are not simply smaller adults, they are physically and mentally different; and regardless of cultural perceptions or social construct, the transition to biological adulthood extends past puberty well into the late teen years.” Communities must work together to understand this basic biological principle. It is our responsibility as families, parents and community members to protect our children, to foster a love of learning and to promote education. Parents need to become better informed about the harmful affects of child labor. At TYO, The Women’s Group allows us to help mothers work towards raising healthy, happy children. We will continue to support children’s psychosocial needs, academic well-being among all community members and educating mothers. We hope you will too.

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World Environment Day 2015

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Today, is World Environment Day (WED). WED is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment. WED is the opportunity for everyone to realize the responsibility to care for the Earth and to become agents of change.

“Although individual decisions may seem small in the face of global threats and trends, when billions of people join forces in common purpose, we can make a tremendous difference.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

At TYO, we believe that children should take action in their communities and that they can become critical drivers for change. We encourage our students to participate in a variety activities that help protect, maintain and give back to the environment including: trash cleanups, recycling, water conservation, energy conservation and gardening.

TYO students pick up trash at a local park

TYO students pick up trash at a local park

Two friends make trash bins out of recycled materials

Two friends make trash bins out of recycled materials

Core Child Program Teacher Haitham teaches a student how to plant a flower at the TYO center

Core Child Program Teacher Haitham teaches a student how to plant a flower at the TYO center

This World Environment Day, what will you be doing to give back? We hope you are inspired to protect earth today and always. It’s never too early to learn about protecting the environment.

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Introducing Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs

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TYO CBFW header

We are so excited to share the latest news regarding TYO’s entrepreneurship programs! Following the success of the two-year regional Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East (FWEME) project in Palestine and Lebanon, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and TYO will continue to support women in northern Palestine with the launch of Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs in April 2015.

The objective of the project is to empower women entrepreneurs and provide them with the tools and skills needed to grow profitable and sustainable businesses that are scalable and facilitate job creation.
The four key objectives of the project are:

  • Increase enterprise development skills of 45 women entrepreneurs
  • Potential for business growth for 25 women increased through coaching and market linkages
  • Scale up businesses of 15 women through incubation and/or investment
  • Elevate women’s position in the Palestinian economy through public policy dialogue that highlights women’s leadership roles and potential in business.

FWEME training pic

 

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International Day of Families 2015

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Today, May 15th, is International Day of Families! This year, the UN chose the theme: ”Men in charge? Gender equality and children’s rights in contemporary families.” The aim is to raise awareness towards promoting gender equality and rights of children within families. This day is especially important to us at TYO because multigenerational programming and gender equality are both cornerstones of our programming.

Mohammad in the Core Child Morning Program completes his family chart

Mohammad in the Core Child Morning Program completes his family chart

In The Women’s Group (TWG), we work with mothers, offering seminars on health, mental health, parenting & children’s needs, education & literacy, and women’s & girl’s empowerment. We work with mothers to help them understand their role in the family and in society. Men and women should be equal decision-makers in their homes and in their families. Mothers must also feel empowered to take charge of their lives and seek personal happiness – benefiting themselves and their children.

We promote gender equality in our classes for children as they are all mixed gender. In Nablus, social, cultural and religious norms and expectations, put a heavy emphasis on gender separation – every UNRWA refugee camp school and every local Nablus school that TYO children attend are separated by gender, starting at the first grade. At TYO, we try to break the cycle of thinking that mixed gender environments are harmful for children. We promote the idea of equality between the genders and have seen a great shift in children’s willingness to cooperate with both boys and girls.

While changing people’s conceptions about gender is a big challenge, TYO and its staff have witnessed great breakthroughs! Parents and children alike are breaking down barriers and heading towards greater gender equality.

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Soap, Not Soup!

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I had just landed in Palestine and was to begin working at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization (TYO) as a Zahi Khouri Fellow. I was overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity, but was nervous and unsure of what to expect during my tenure at the organization. Before I began teaching TYO’s entrepreneurs I was filled with first-day jitters and self-doubt. My fear and hesitation quickly blossomed into one of the most positive and enriching experiences I have ever had while traveling abroad.

Zahi Khouri Fellow Vanessa, alongside Psychosocial Program Manager Suhad with the WISE II participants.

Zahi Khouri Fellow Vanessa, alongside Psychosocial Program Manager Suhad, pose with the WISE II participants.

As a Zahi Khouri Fellow, I was tasked with the responsibility of teaching The Women’s Group (TWG) fitness and nutrition courses. TWG is for women residing in refugee camps and disadvantaged neighborhoods in Nablus, with a focus on mothers of children in TYO’s Core Child Program. Classes include health, nutrition, and exercise alongside IT classes.

In addition to TWG, I would also provide intensive Business English and Social Media and IT courses to women participating in the Women’s Incubation Services for Entrepreneurs (WISE) II Program.  WISE II  enhances women-led, small enterprises in marginalized areas of northern Palestine. It is the first of its kind to serve women of northern Palestine who cannot access services offered in Ramallah or other areas.

I had limited experience teaching English, Social Media, or IT upon arrival. Now, I was tasked with the responsibility of facilitating a successful educational experience for TYO’s entrepreneurs. What if they didn’t like me? What if my lessons were boring and uninteresting? What if they left feeling as though the classes were a waste of their time? Fortunately, TYO believed in me. Additionally, my experience building community-based infrastructure with Palestinian and Iraqi refugee women in the United States would help inform my classroom time with the WISE II entrepreneurs. Rather than mire myself with worry, I decided to enter the classroom with enthusiasm, excitement, and determination.

Equipped with three weeks of lesson plans, I entered class expecting the women to bring an ample amount of sass, brilliance, and personality. The women brought that and so much more. For three weeks, the women pushed themselves and each other to learn conversational English that they will undoubtedly use while promoting and running their businesses. Some of the subjects we covered included how to properly pronounce words associated with their businesses, how to speak in formal English about their business over the phone and in person, and how to craft and articulate a business pitch. We often erupted in roars of (loving) laughter when one of the women just couldn’t grasp the pronunciation of a difficult word or when many of the women would refer to their “soup” business instead of her “soap” business.

Many of the entrepreneurs had one and a half hour commutes in order to get to our center yet always came to class with dogged determination to tackle the day’s lesson. For their final assignment, the women had to present a business pitch to a mock potential investor. Each woman confidently stood before the class presenting their pitches. I stood and listened, feeling overwhelming pride for the progress the women had made in such a short period of time.

Their final presentations proved to me what I had suspected: upon completion of the three-week class, the women had not only garnered more command over English, but they also gained more self-confidence in themselves, and love and respect for each other.

I have had the pleasure of traveling to Tulkarem and Jenin to visit many of the WISE II entrepreneurs. I felt tremendously honored to have been able to visit the women’s villages and homes, eat their delicious food, and connect with them outside of the classroom. In retrospect, it is hard to believe I was ever nervous about teaching at all.. Together we have built genuine relationships based in mutual respect and I am so honored to have been a small part of these women’s entrepreneurial journeys. I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

Vanessa, Zahi Khouri Fellow

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