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2007.08.21

* UNICEF: Adolescent-friendly youth centres help restore hope to Gaza teens
* 01 Aug 2007

Faced with severe economic difficulties, border closures, and political unrest, life for many in the occupied Palestinian territories grows more difficult by the day. Particularly… children and adolescents feel the effects of these hardships… their schooling is disrupted… their living standards are deteriorating. Anxiety and uncertainty are taking their toll on these young adults… 

UNICEF is currently supporting 40 adolescent-friendly learning centers in the West Bank and Gaza to help adolescents overcome their hopelessness and provide meaningful programs outside the schools. One of these centres is the Jabalia Community Centre, located in the Jabalia refugee camp. The Centre provides services to the most disadvantaged children.

The camp is suffering from a high level of poverty and unemployment… around 70 to 80 percent of the 85,000 people there are unemployed. The youth clubs feature sports and music… and a particular focus has been made to ensure the participation of adolescent girls. Both girls and boys like learning the traditional dance, called dabkeh.

SOUNDBITE Hanin Masaoud, 16 years old: “Before coming here I was always feeling ashamed. But now I am able to face people and interact with them. I have learnt how to express my opinions and have my right to be around people.”

SOUNDBITE Mohamed Murad, 15 years old: “The most things I love are music band, Dabkeh and sports. They are very important in helping me build my body and activate my thinking it taught me a lot of things. This centre is the only place in which gives me the opportunity to learn and widen my knowledge. I built here good friendships as well. I become able to express myself better than before. I learn many good courses in math so I become better in math as my grades are improved.”

Adolescent-friendly learning centres are expected to reach out to marginalized adolescents in remote areas with help from cooperative partners.

SOUNDBITE Reem Tarazi, Project Officer, UNICEF: “UNICEF, in cooperation with the Tamer Institute has established a number of adolescents-learning centres - in which centres they provide educational, sports, recreational activities for adolescents; it gives them the opportunity to participate peacefully to express themselves; it creates their skills in education; it improves their achievements in schools and particularly the participation of girls. 

UNICEF hopes to establish an additional 15 adolescent-friendly learning centres to benefit around 16,000 adolescents – an important step in restoring their sense of well-being in this troubled time.


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