When people in a community have an idea for something they would like to do, sometimes they choose to implement it by themselves, starting a new organization if they need one. However, sometimes, they find it easier to work with an existing organization. In this video, Khaled Farrag describes how Grassroots Jerusalem facilitated the work of a group of youth.
One of the first experiences that was a result of the mobilization work that we have done in Jerusalem, which was about the subject of the terms and concepts that were used in the context of Jerusalem and the context of Palestine in general.
The country’s residents were talking about barriers for example and passages as if they were international boundaries checkpoints that we cross. To us all of Jerusalem is occupied, it was occupied on 1948, but the international and political dictates made the division that we know as western Jerusalem and eastern Jerusalem as if there was no Palestinian presence before in the areas that we know now as western Jerusalem.
So when we started talking about the issue, we worked with a youth group that built the idea of the project that was named “Tell it Palestinian”, so the idea was to create an awareness campaign targeted to the city’s residents and also to the whole world to let them know that to us these are the right designations, we call it Jerusalem, we call them military roadblocks, we call it the annexation and expansionism wall because this is what it’s doing: it separates Palestinians and helps with the occupation of the lands.
Therefore we started researching all those terms that are commonly used and see what are their correct definitions. At the end, the group of youth led the campaign which expanded and has reached all Palestine and even the Arab world and we didn’t at any point feel ownership towards the campaign because its source and origin was young boys and girls from the country and we were happy that it spread beyond Jerusalem and beyond Palestine because at the end it’s an important culture, to understand how to look at the country and how to name things according to the reality that individuals face in Jerusalem and not according to the terms that come from the international gatherings and meetings, or from the occupation itself, or from governments that have certain benefits in the region here.
So this experience was really great, a grassroot popular experience that had a big impact and we are really proud of it.
When organizations work to facilitate community ideas, they have to make sure that they don’t disempower the community in the process. The strength of the project belongs to the community, and the long-term leadership belongs to the community as well. In this video, Lina Ismail of Dalia Association describes how they work to make sure communities feel comfortable with this role.
The idea of community programs that I am coordinating in Dahlia association are three programs just like Aisha talked about. The three programs work in the same approach, part it with the men part of it with the women and part of it with the village in a general manner. For myself to be in the field and with these people and with the initiating actors leaves me with a very wonderful feeling to continue doing this work. The way our work is done like Aisha mention is that we reach out to the communities, we see who likes the idea, we talk about the idea of Dahlia association, what does this idea mean to her, if they would like to continue with this topic and to do initiatives that truly benefit the community.
When we connect with all of them we tell them that our main goal from this small grant, that after the grant is done and after Dahlia finishes, for you guys to truly say that you were able to do this initiative without the interjection of an association. The idea is to gather these people and be facilitators rather than being grant makers. Contrary, we are making a partnership with them. So we talk about this framework, we talk about the benefit of the community placement and how it is very important, how the use of local resources that surround us and that we have lost confidence in, whether in ourselves regarding our skills and efforts and time, we lost confidence in them. How we can return this thing, and how we can create initiatives that will continue on their own, with the community and environmental supervision in the area.
We also have to be very cautious that the initiatives that happen must really benefit the community and not harm it, especially the environment, and the community and the state of the present community.