Reuniting Girl Power!
Huddled in a safe corner shaded by ancient olive trees in Al Bylasan centre in Jabalia camp in the Northern part of Gaza, Daiana and Suad giggle shyly as they share an old joke, remembering the times when they had first crossed path in the centre seven years ago.
– The girls were separated shortly after the graduation ceremony in 2010 when their enrolment in the programme concluded, but were reunited amid joyful tears and warm hugs in the Al Bylasan centre in March of this year, remembers Suzan Nahal, Programme Officer in Gaza, Palestine. Since then, Diana and Suad have been inseparable.
The Al Bylasan project; a Red Crescent initiative, was first launched in February, 2017 with the objective of enhancing women’s capacities through economic empowerment as well as granting them a window to active community participation and integration, in a just and gender-balanced world. To that end, the centre offers numerous and personalized services for 47 young women with disabilities, such as regular household visits, psycho-social activities and physiotherapy.
The centre also provides a safe space for ten additional women and women with disabilities, engaging them in vocational, technical and illiteracy programmes, and are included in the extracurricular activities, such as summer camps and daily excursions, allowing them to form lifelong friendships.
– Throughout the 27 years of my work with IM, I have witnessed a series of human interactions and relations form and flourish. Yet, the special bond that spawned between these two women is heart-warming, continues Suzan.
The centre which supports the marginalised people’s rights to education and economic empowerment through vocational training and literacy programmes provides one on one psycho-social support, physical therapy, occupational therapy and daily exercise as part of its personalised services offered to marginalised women, a life-changing service to participants such Daiana and Suad who suffer from paraplegia and minor intellectual disability.
One of the programmes led by the centre is the boarding service accommodating 17 women with disabilities between the ages of twelve to twenty, where they are taught the basics of literacy, life and social skills, in addition to vocational skills, such as embroidery and canvas work.
– I can proudly say that I am outstanding in canvas work!, Daiana beams. Thanks to the centre, I can read and write and hope to become a vocational trainer one day soon.
The Al Bylasan centre is an active member of the North Coalition for Disability Issues, focusing on creating sustainable change through right holders’ mobilisation and empowerment. “Daiana is a role model for the other women in the centre. The skills and knowledge that she has learnt during her time at the centre have drastically changed her behaviour to a strong, confident woman who leaves a distinguished footprint in society and lives of others. The transformation is quite impressive, to be honest!” comments Suzan.
Although the centre focuses on economic empowerment, women rights and quality education accessibility, yet providing a pleasant and dignified life through friendships and humane interaction remains at the core of IM’s values.
– The past seven years were very difficult for me. I felt like a part of me was taken away; an understanding friend, a loyal companion, and the sister I never had. Now, that my best friend is here, I can pull some strings and have Daina embroider something special, just for me! winks Suad with a childish grin.