Why did you decide to volunteer with Karama in Palestine?
Floor: After reading a lot about Palestine and the conflict, I wanted to go there myself to discover Palestinian life and to learn more about the situation. I choose Karama because the description of the project and their philosophy on their website appealed to me (and the fact that it is a small scale Palestinian NGO created by refugees - and not a big foreign controlled NGO) and because some acquaintances in Belgium knew the organisation and told me it has a very good reputation in the Palestinian society.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
Floor: A day at Karama starts at 11 am, so no need to get up very early. :) First, there is time to prepare your activities and workshops you plan to do with the children in the afternoon. Next, there is some 'personal' time to use the Internet if necessary in order to email family and friends.
When the children arrive to Karama (after school finishes), the workshops and activities start. When it is about to get dark, everyone cleans up the Karama building together - children and volunteers - and with that, the day finishes.
Every volunteer can choose the activities they want to do with the children - as long as they fit in with Karama's ideology - and the schedule thus very much depends on the volunteers themselves. In the first month of my stay at Karama, I did Spanish courses with a group of 9 to 10 teenagers and all sorts of games, handicraft and sports activities with both the younger and older children at Karama. That I really liked, because in this way, I got to know all the children and create beautiful friendships with some of them. My second month, I did mostly administration work, like maintaining and updating the website, writing the Karama newsletter, working on some fundraising projects etc. Even though I kind of missed the contact with the children during that time, I learned a lot on how an NGO works and on the Karama philosophy, so I learned to love Karama even more.
What made this experience unique and special?
Floor: Karama found me the most wonderful host family in Deheishe, they made my stay there incredibly unique and special, I will never forget them. At Karama itself, I really much liked the personal guidance you get, if there is any problem or issue, you can discuss it. And they are also very happy to explain you on the situation, to help you visit the West Bank and to understand more on the Palestinian life and the life in exile in the refugee camps. It is an NGO run with passion - not like many money machine NGO's - so participating in such a project feels very unique.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Floor: Personally, it was a very strong and intense experience, through which I learned many things about myself as well as Palestine and the refugees. Professionally, the experience was definitely very useful, as I work in the development field, but for me the personal experience was much much more important!