Meet the YALLA Initiatives

Last Wednesday, June 13, the Youth Action Local Leadership Alliance (YALLA), a youth-led civic engagement program for youth ages 12-21, moved one step closer towards selecting the three strongest initiatives addressing societal and community issues. After receiving nine hours of trainings in leadership, public relations, report-writing, problem-solving and communication from the Youth Leadership Committee (YLC), the participants were finally ready to share their initiative proposals.

Before their YLC mentors and the YALLA Advisory Committee, consisting of Dr. Jawad Fatayer of An-Najah National University, Mr. Ayman Abu Ghazala, General Director of Al Hajj Taher Al-Masri Company and TYO's Volunteer Coordinator Ahmad Hanani, the YALLA participants presented their completed initiative idea proposals.

Fadi and Mohammed Kayed presented the first initiative called, "Towards a Better Tourism." Their initiative addresses the lack of tourism in Sebastiya, a village outside of Nablus and home to many archeological sites dating back to the Roman Empire. Because of its historical attractiveness, Fadi and Mohammed want to make Sebastiya more tourist-friendly by creating signs, brochures and other deliverables to encourage tourism in their beautiful village.

The second initiative, by Rakan Dbabseh, is called "Get to Know Palestine." Rakan says that his initiative was developed because he found very little information on the most popular tourist sites in Palestine. It is Rakan's hope that he will visit and document famous sites in Palestine through photography and video. He will then create informational catalogues in English and Arabic for each city, spotlighting some of the lesser-known sites in Palestine. He also hopes to create a documentary, to be shown on local Palestinian television channels to target an even broader audience.

A great initiative idea comes from Wala'a Omar, a student at An-Najah National University from the department of Sociology. Her initiative is called, "Kids' Park in Deir al-Hatab." The name of her initiative says it all - Wala'a wants to provide a safe space for children in her village of Deir al-Hatab, outside of Nablus. This park will be unique because it will not only serve Deir al-Hatab, but also two other nearby villages who lack any type of play area for their children.

Two young girls studying at a local secondary school in Nablus, Zbaydah Anabtawi and Mai Younis, put their heads together to create the fourth initiative – “Botanical Garden." Zbaydah and Mai plan to create the public garden as a way to increase the amount of green space in Nablus. They also hope to inform Palestinians about plants and how it’s important to their everyday lives through signs and plaques inside the garden.

The next initiative called, "Everyone is the Same", touches an important and sensitive subject in the community – people with disabilities. Israa Ayed hopes to create large posters, advocating for the rights of the disabled, to be displayed in public places. She wants to teach Nabulsis that handicapped people are not people to fear or treat badly, but rather, they are people who deserve the same amount of respect and love as anybody else.

The youth in Nablus don't have many options available to them in terms of after school programs. Growing up, Doa'a Shtayyeh would have appreciated being a part of a youth club, and it was this desire that gave her the idea of "Pioneers Parliament." Doa'a aims to form a parliament for young people ages 12-18 because the Nabulsi community often forgets about this age range in particular. Through her initiative, she hopes that youth will realize their potential as change-makers in their society both today and in the future.

Photographer Khamees Abu-Saad’s initiative, entitled "Moments", aims to foster a culture of reading in Nablus. He wants to encourage reading by capturing a series of high-quality, literacy-themed photographs that he will display in the public library. He will then invite people to the library and encourage them to visit the library to not only view the photos, but also, to read.

The final initiative is by the two youngest YALLA particpants, Dima Nsasrh and Roula Khatatba from Beit Furik, a small village outside of Nablus. Their initiative, called "Campaign Against Junk Food", is an advocacy campaign against unhealthy foods and in support of leading healthy lifestyles. Malnutrition and unhealthy eating is a problem plaguing all of Palestine, so Dima and Roula understand the importance of putting up campaign posters throughout the city. They also hope to raise awareness not only for all of Nablus in general, but especially targeting students and children by placing posters and billboards near schools and downtown at the city center.

With such strong initiatives, it was extremely difficult to decide which three initiatives would be chosen. But after hearing all the presentations and listening to the feedback from the YLC, the Advisory Committee chose its three initiatives to be funded! Congratulations to Rakan Dbabseh with “Get to Know Palestine”, Wala'a Omar with “Kids’ Park in Deir al-Hatab” and Dima Nsasrh and Roula Khatatba with the “Campaign Against Junk Food.” Stay tuned right here on the TYO blog to see how these initiatives play out! It's shaping up to be an exciting summer!

-Mohammad and Roula

Mohammad and Roula are members of the YLC and are YALLA Communications Officers.