Environmental Education Program A Success in Al Walajah Village

Water usage and freedom of movement are significantly limited by Israeli settlements and military forces in the West Bank. No more so than for the residents of Al-Walajah village located on the Green Line between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. 1for3 executive director Nidal Al-Azraq met with community leaders and partnered with the Palestine Foundation to offer support to local residents enduring their on going crisis. Recently, the first phase of this program, focused on the environment, ended successfully. Led by the environmental unit of Al-Lajee Center in the UNRWA Aida Camp, 30, 13-17-years olds trained in water testing, recycling of organic and non organic materials, and comparative environmental studies. The outcome of the program is significant in terms of training opportunities for youth around in-demand services.

In addition, it represents a small part of 1for3's duty to support this important community as its members face houses and farms demolished by Israel's on going occupation.

Community Healthcare Workers Project in Two Camps

Lajee Center's community health workers are visiting 60 shut-ins throughout the UNRWA Aida and Azzeh camps. The visits are pilot efforts of a new 1for3-organized initiative to monitor common health issues such as hypertension and diabetes. The health workers conducting the visits are trainees in a multi-part program that develops local health professionals from non-health backgrounds. They receive instruction in psycho-social support and other health issues by clinicians from the US, Palestine, and Germany. Through home visits, the health workers get to know the patients, monitor their progress, and advise on ways to improve outcomes through wellness planning. In addition, the health workers have reached out to support children seeking treatment in local cancer and pediatric wards in Beit Jala Hospital, visited an elder home, and organized a 'Health Day' of educational field trips for international volunteers to local medical institutions.

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Rooftop Gardens Aid Healthy Foods

With the help of 1for3 there are now 30 greenhouses on the rooftops of homes in two refugee camps. Families in the UNRWA Aida and Azzeh camps have been trained to cultivate crops and maintain greenhouses to successfully grow food to the point of near self-sustenance. The Environment Unit at the Lajee Center in Aida camp, with the help of 1for3, has led this effort. Families in the program meet their fresh-food needs by growing vegetables and fruits organically while also establishing a notion of food security amidst the ongoing Israeli occupation. The project goes beyond simply helping to cultivate healthy food by encouraging families to keep traditions of farming alive for two and three generations. Gardening in this way also serves as a form of therapy for camp residents through the process of planting, sowing, and reaping.

Recycling Leads to New Public Spaces

In an experimental effort, the Lajee Center in UNRWA's Aida camp, has a new rooftop garden made out of recycled materials. Staff with local and international volunteers have been reusing and recycling non-organic materials to build a rooftop garden and recreational space at the center. Using old wooden pallets and tires perimeter flowerbeds, garden chairs, and tea tables have been created. This emerging infrastructure has become a place for growing essential Palestinian herbs used in cooking, as well as delicate flowers. Furthermore, murals have been painted on all of the walls to liven up the area. This pilot project reduces camp waste while providing ways for local residents to continually beautify living spaces. 1for3 is working to reproduce this model in other areas and rooftops of the camp.