BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights recently held the Youth Empowerment Camp at Ibdaa Cultural Center in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, on 17-20 August 2017. The youth camp included 45 participants, ages 17-24 years, from multiple areas within Mandate Palestine and included the engagement of 8 partners. The camp provided four intense days of educational and skills-based workshops in addition to field missions to marginalized areas of the West Bank.
The youth empowerment camps are one of BADIL’s main approaches to engaging youth, increasing their knowledge and skills and building social cohesion in a highly fragmented geopolitical environment. By providing the knowledge and the skills that strengthen participants’ ability to promote and defend their rights, they can become change agents in their respective communities. This particular youth camp, the second camp implemented by BADIL and its CBO partners this year, brought together Palestinian youth from both sides of the Green Line, including Jerusalem. It contained the largest and most geopolitically diverse group of youth compared to the previous two camps.
The empowerment program was multifaceted. The educational lectures focused on the different approaches to struggles for fundamental freedoms and historic examples of social justice. The skills-based workshops aimed to provide the participants with tools to strengthen their communication, teamwork, and leadership skills. The program also included several discussion sessions related to the Palestinian political and cultural context, national identity, and the practicalities of return for Palestinian refugees. Additionally, the youth participated in several site visits to the surrounding villages and refugee camps that are highly affected by the Israeli policies of forcible transfer.
Participants engaged dynamically with the workshop and each other; articulating the importance of the topics addressed and expressed their interest in building upon this work. This feedback, including suggestions for the next youth camp, was provided through various evaluation mechanisms that were delivered throughout the program.
The Youth Empowerment Camp is one of the main activities within BADIL’s Youth and Women’s Empowerment Program and is implemented regularly. It aims to empower Palestinian youth, in a gender inclusive environment, create a space for communication and participation, and to develop innovative rights-based solutions to the ‘Question of Palestine’.