Impact: 1
Support: 1
Fun: 1
Value: 1
Safety: 5

As a volunteer in Karama you live under hard rules which can be difficult for you to adapt to. You are not allowed to visit houses of other volunteers, you are not allowed to have a free day off with another volunteer, and you are not allowed to travel to Jerusalem or leave Palestine. What is expected of you is to work (preferably 7 days/week) and stay at home. My days were the same: I woke up, went to Karama and after that I went home. And yes, we were told not to walk home together even though we all worked the same hours, this was just a stupid rule!

I can conclude my volunteer experience in one word: solitude. You will feel lonely and separated from the other volunteers as well as the locals. Oh yes, I was not allowed to interact with locals and get to know them on a deeper basis. I could say hi but nothing more. But I could barely say hi when visitors came since we were told not to interact with anyone visiting and this was made very clear to us. What you will learn is to endure. Probably you will find that you are stronger than what you think.

Because the conditions were bad I did not have much ambition in my work with the children. This is sad, because I came for the children and people of Deheishe. I paid more money than was justified and for the money I gave to Karama I could have travelled and lived in Palestine for maybe six months. As a grown up you are better off travelling on your own and helping people in other ways. If you are maybe younger and easier to influence you might like it there. I have some solid advice based on my own experience that are useful if you want to volunteer at any place:

-Find out before you go how many days/week you will work and how many hours
-Find out if you will receive money back if you leave early (I did not get my money back from Karama!)
-Volunteer with bigger organizations that have more than one or two people working in it, this way you can easier talk to people within the organization if problems arise
-If you plan to stay a longer time, do not give all your money upon arrival. Try two-three weeks first and then decide
-My experience is that educated staff and directors possess more leadership skills and will probably understand you as a westerner better

Truthfully, the volunteers at Karama when I was there were not treated equally. The conditions at Karama were very bad and we were not supposed to talk to each other much during the hours there. Lack of leadership skills, insecurity will create this unfriendly environment. I did like my family but was not genuinely happy and when you are not happy it is difficult to act as if you are. Try some other place, maybe in another Arab country. Sadly, after speaking to friends who volunteered in other places in Palestine, the volunteer industry there is corrupt, especially when the initiatives are run by Palestinians. Accepting volunteers is not about providing enough food and a place to stay. It is about sharing the culture, be grateful, acknowledge that your volunteer is an independent thinker, exchanging, taking the volunteer on fun trips, letting them interact with locals and create an inspirational and motivational environment for the volunteer to be creative in. This is what Karama did not succeed in.

Would you recommend this program?
No, I would not