Every level of Palestinian society has suffered as a result of the ongoing conflict. We have worked in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for over 50 years, often with those most impacted by the conflict. We've facilitated art therapy with traumatised children in Gaza, offered skills and employability training to young people in the West Bank, and promoted women in leadership.
Our volunteers have been instrumental in enabling us to reach out to vulnerable people groups, such as women living in violent relationships. Violence against women is a major issue in Palestine, both domestic violence and violence generated by the Occupation and the Intifadas. We have worked with Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC) to support survivors and address the causes and consequences of gender-based violence within the Palestinian community. WCLAC also focuses on the effects of increased militarisation associated with the Israeli occupation on women, including limited economic opportunities. WCLAC were struggling with their capacity, so our volunteers produced bi-lingual workshops and resources, and supported WCLAC in writing proposals and increasing their capacity, enabling the organisation to support more women.
We have also worked closely with universities to increase access to education and work after graduation. The political context in Palestine has meant that the basic right to an education is being denied for students at high school and university level. It is challenging for universities to operate in the West Bank for a number of reasons. It is difficult securing foreign faculty as visas are often denied; funding from individuals is necessary for universities to their subsidise students; and merely getting to the campus is made hard by road blocks and check points. For three years, we worked with Birzeit University to promote the Palestinian people’s right to an education, run English workshops and deliver careers workshops and advice.
In 2015, we worked with Siraj Al Quds (SAQ) University to tackle the barriers to education that are faced by people with disabilities and people from low socio-economic backgrounds. Our volunteers worked with SAQ staff to seek out and apply for funding, as well as developing the university’s online presence in order to raise international interest in the issues faced by young people with visual impairments and additional support needs in Palestine.
Higher education institutions have a major role to play in producing skilled young people who will secure and sustain the Palestinian economy in years to come.
For the last two years, we've focused on enabling organisations to develop and become stronger and more impactful through our Organisational Self-Assessment Tool (OSAT). The OSAT enables organisations to identify and address their own needs and priorities, become more efficient and improve their ability to deliver change effectively.
Last year we delivered OSATs with Palestine ABS, Jerusalem School, Sunflower Association, Rural Women’s Development Society, and the River Company.
We have worked in Palestine for over 50 years, including launching a Literacy and Adult Education Office at Birzeit University in 1976. In that time, literacy rates of people over 15 years old have increased from 47% to 96.9%.
Same Difference worked with children living in some of the most challenging circumstances, giving them the tools to express and deal with the trauma they had faced.