Making Change Click
In the ten years between 1997 and 2007, Nablus experienced a 20% growth in population. Living conditions are cramped—to say the least. Schools are over capacity, child labor is rampant, and there are few places for children to play. To make matters worse, the West Bank’s environment has long been a neglected casualty of the region’s volatile political circumstances. Stringent environmental regulations in the region have resulted in waste disposal solutions that bring tons of garbage to the West Bank. As politics increasingly limits Palestinians’ access to landfills, the Environmental Authority has claimed that pesticides have been dumped near Hebron and that Avian Flu-infected chicken carcasses have been discarded near Nablus. Moreover, 97% of Palestinian students between the 7th and 10th grade have witnessed occupation-related violence, 50% have been abused at school, and 41% have been beaten at home. Studies have shown that tobacco use as a coping mechanism is statistically related to violence in the West Bank where more than a quarter of the population smokes.
Blame and politics aside, these are hardly suitable conditions for raising children. Since 2007, TYO has sought to address the needs of young Nabulsis facing the struggles of growing up under such harsh living conditions. The Triple Exposure program empowers students in Nablus to use the camera as a tool to advocate for social change. During the last four weeks of the session, beginner and advanced photographers will take photos that confront critical issues facing their community. Students will use their photos to design their own public awareness campaigns that address smoking, child labor, cramped living conditions, environmental issues, a lack of space to play, and harsh school conditions. TYO will help students distribute materials to locals in their neighborhood and the international community online. Some of their early work debuts here but much more will follow in the final weeks of the session.
By equipping young Nabulsis with the confidence and support they need, TYO enables them to be constructive and productive advocates for change in their community. In addition, it encourages students to engage with critical issues affecting the development of their city and country.
Zak is a Fall 2013 intern at TYO in Nablus.