According to the World Bank, poverty in Gaza has risen to nearly 40 percent, twice as high as that in the West Bank. More than 65 percent of Gazans have inadequate access to water and sanitary services and unemployment rates are over 40 percent.
Despite the extreme hardships endured by the Gazan people, there are numerous nonprofit organizations across the globe helping to improve conditions in the Gaza Strip.
1. United Palestinian Appeal (UPA) – Washington D.C.
UPA’s mission statement is to alleviate the sufferings of Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank and refugee camps across the Middle East by providing direct aid through program and grants.
The Healing Through Feeling Program provides Gazan children, 50 percent of whom suffer from PTSD, with trauma counseling and community support.
Other programs include scholarship funding, medical care provisions, food security and small business education.
2. Al Mezan Center For Human Rights – Gaza City, Gaza Strip
Al Mezan’s mission is to promote the protection of human rights in Gaza through research, legal intervention and advocacy. Projects include gathering information on human rights violations, meeting with governmental bodies to discuss violations and spreading awareness.
Al Mezan also offers a variety of training courses, workshops and lectures to train lawyers and analysts on the necessary information for their professional programs.
3. Just Vision – Jerusalem, New York, Washington D.C.
Just Vision’s goal is to foster peace and build a future of freedom and equality for both Palestinians and Israelis by ending the occupation. As a team of advocates, filmmakers and journalists, Just Vision creates films about the under-documented stories of Palestinian and Israeli activists.
Award-winning films include Encounter Point, My Neighborhood, Budrus and The Wanted 18.
4. The Jerusalem Fund – Washington D.C.
The Jerusalem Fund aims to foster a greater awareness for the Palestinian cause and improve the livelihood of Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and diaspora.
The Jerusalem Fund works to accomplish these goals through three programs:
The Humanitarian Link, which provides direct aid and relief services to Palestinian communities; the Palestine Center, which functions as the educational branch, hosting regular lectures and redistributing published articles; and the Gallery Al-Quds, which features contemporary Arab-American and Arab artists whose work centers on issues of the Arab and Islamic world.
5. The Freedom Theater – Jenin Refugee Camp, Gaza Strip
The Freedom Theater inspires creativity and encourages theater arts to empower the youth and women living in Jenin to both explore their own potential and use art as a catalyst for social change.
In 2008, the Freedom Theater launched a theater school which offers intensive three-year programs in various fields: acting, dance, movement, voice, acrobatics, improvisation, playwriting, dramaturgy, history of theatre, costume design, set design, production and stage management.
Whether it is by providing direct aid or spreading awareness, these five nonprofit organizations are saving lives, providing sustainability and making a difference in the fight against poverty in Gaza.
– Kristyn Rohrer