This is an opportunity to volunteer with Project Hope working with Palestinian children and youth. There are a variety of programs, depending on the time of year. Typically English and French as a Second Language, as well as Art, are the primary activities year-round.
My experience with Project Hope was rich and meaningful. I felt very useful in teaching French and German to students from 8 to 60 years old, from all levels and different backgrounds, as well as sports ( soccer, yoga).
Thanks to PH, I could teach in all kind of structures (schools, university, cultural centres) and in all part of the city and its surroundings (center, camps, villages).
Ever evening, activities were organised for volunteers (from meeting very interesting people to going out for bowling). During the week-ends as well, activities such as olive picking or desert trip were organised.
The staff and the local volunteers are so nice, I made good friends after 2 months and a half.
I am greateful for this experience and will try to come back asap. Also my arabic improved thanks to the arabic courses with PH!
Volunteering with Project Hope was a fantastic experience. I can't believe more people haven't reviewed here. I came back with more insight into the conflict and a deep empathy for the Palestinian people. Project Hope was a great organisation to volunteer with, I would 100% recommend.
I volunteered to do a video linking project (via skype), where children could speak to each other from Palestine to the UK. I also did a video sharing project. You can simply teach English or you can bring an existing skill. They asked what we wanted to do, so you can create your own project if you want. I wasn't expecting that, so that was really great.
One of the best things about the experience was being allocated local volunteers. These people came along to classes to support with translation and assist. They helped us get from 'a' to 'b' and were invaluable. They were wonderful people too. This was so perfect and made the volunteering experience excellent.
What to expect?
Accommodation is all sorted which is great. You're sharing in an apartment, with other internationals. We were lucky and had tidy people! Project Hope provide you with nice accommodation but bear in mind you're in Palestine so expect things to be more basic than you're used to. This wasn't a problem. Not as basic as when I was in India. We had a beautiful view and fruit trees in the garden, vary spacious, basic kitchen, limited water (but I always had hot water).
Staff - all the staff were wonderful, without exception. They clearly care about what they do and they do everything they can to make sure you're comfortable and you enjoy the volunteering experience and also to ensure maximum impact in the community.
Classes - I was a bit unclear about this part until I arrived. Project Hope first meet with you to find out more about you and then they decide where to place you (i.e with infants, children, adults etc). Even though I'd submitted my lesson plans etc they still need to meet you to decide. This is common in Palestine, people prefer face to face, even if they have email, so worth getting used to. We then went to meet all the different centres. I had three different places to visit per day (one girl school, one refugee camp and the training centre for adults). Taxi's are cheap and the local volunteers helped us get about the city. The number of lessons you do really depends on where you're based, because we had to factor in travel time, we did 3 a day, but if you're in one school then you may do more. You can tell them what you're comfortable with.
Social - there were evening and weekend socials if you want. They add you to a facebook group when you arrive and all the volunteers and keep in touch about social activities. They are also always available to give advice about local places to visit etc.
Arrival - we had a great induction with a staff member who was local and had been a refugee himself. The staff worked with us to set up a timetable and we had a wonderful tour of the local area.
People - everyone in Palestine is so friendly. It was unlike other places I'd been. India and Uganda call you 'white person, white person' from across the street and you always get a lot of attention. Here, you can walk through the street easily, no bargaining and hassle when trying to buy things (if anything we got offered things for free at times), the people in Nablus are very friendly.
Safety - I felt safe the whole time. Nablus felt like a very safe city. In South America, tourists are sometimes targeted, but in Nablus, if you're an international, you're not a target, if anything, you're way more protected. I saw the oppression, but didn't feel unsafe even once. I feel more unsafe walking home on my own in London to be honest! The people of Palestine have a wonderful community feel.
Overall, I really felt the volunteering I did made an impact on the lives of people in Palestine. I felt that Project Hope is making a real difference, and I felt very looked after as a volunteer. I came home understanding a lot more about the conflict and oppression but more than that, I came home having experienced the wonderful Palestinian colourful and vibrant life. I would wholeheartedly recommend this volunteering experience.
What would you improve about this program?
I'd be hard pushed to find improvement points to be honest. At a stretch I'd say that I felt a bit 'in the dark' until I arrived, and it would be good if there was more communication and understanding in advance so that I could prepare. I didn't understand if I'd be doing 1 lesson a day or 6. But I think this is a cultural thing, as mentioned in my review, they like to meet you in person and assess the best placements that way.
Project Hope started as a small organization emerging in response to the violence of the 2nd Intifada in 2003 - partnering local and international volunteers together to run educational and recreational activities for children in isolated and hard-hit areas of the northern West Bank. Today they've grown into the largest volunteer organization in Palestine. The situation is much calmer now in Nablus, but there is still a great need for internationals to help rebuild the social fabric of this country through education, recreation, and solidarity. Given their years of experience, Project Hope is the most organized and trustworthy organization in Palestine. That being said, it's still Palestine, and the organization works with over 40 other local community centers, not all of which are as well organized. So if you're patient and flexible, want to learn about Palestine and make friendships that will last a lifetime - between you and local Palestinians as well as international volunteers, than Project Hope is right for you. The people you will work with are the friendliest and most welcoming you'll ever meet, and the work is meaningful and valuable - you won't want to leave, and you'll feel you're walking away with much more than you gave.
While traveling in the Palestine region, you will be confronted with their tumultuous history. The main pull for traveling in this region comes down to learning about the culture and breaking down unsubstantiated ideas. There is a lot to learn form the people, history, and political climate.
About Project Hope
Project Hope works in the refugee camps, city centers, and villages of the Nablus region of the northern West Bank, teaching English and delivering other essential education, arts and sports programs to Palestinian children and youth.