IRC launches programs in West Bank for at-risk children
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is beginning a new project this week in the West Bank to support innovative psychosocial programs for Palestinian children.
The IRC is partnering with the UK-based charity Bidna Capoeira to bolster and expand programs that teach capoeira to at-risk children in West Bank refugee camps and schools.
Capoeira is a challenging Afro-Brazilian sport and art form that blends dance, music, acrobatics and martial arts. Proponents say it engenders a positive philosophy and outlook on life—one that is based on respect for the self and others. The capoeira classes in the West Bank will provide a structured and welcoming environment for children and teenagers to come together and express themselves in a safe and healthy way.
The project will initially focus on the city of Ramallah and eventually extend to nearby Nablus and Hebron.
“Recognizing the high level of need, our partnership with Bidna Capoeira provides an exceptional opportunity to help those Palestinians most at risk—children and teenagers,” says Maurizio Crivellaro, the IRC’s director for Jordan and the Palestinian Territories.
A recent IRC assessment of educational needs in the West Bank found concerning gaps.
“The Palestinian education system, once known for its quality, has begun to suffer,” says the IRC’s Jen Steele, who conducted the research. “It’s likely that changing conditions in access and quality can be attributed to the socioeconomic and political implications of the on-going conflict.”
Steele’s study forms the basis of a three-year IRC strategy that will focus programs on improving the quality of early primary education for conflict-affected children in the West Bank.
"We hope that this pilot project is only the beginning of a wider engagement in the Palestinian Territories over the coming years," says Mike Young, regional director.
The IRC’s last project in the Palestinian territories was in early 2009—working with local partners to deliver medicines and other supplies to hospitals in the Gaza Strip during a surge in violence.