Fund recipient Bairbre Flood was supported to travel to Israel and Palestine to explore how marginalised communities have more in common with one another than is usually portrayed in western media. Here, Bairbre offers further insight into her trip. For more information on Bairbre’s project, visit the Fund’s Project Showcase here.
While reporting on women’s groups for the Newstalk radio documentary (Learning To Change In Israeli & Palestinian Communities), I also took a quick visit to Aida Refugee Camp just outside Bethlehem in the West Bank.
Islam Abu Odeh runs cookery classes from here, and offers homestays in an apartment adjoined to their house. She also shows me around the centre for disabled children which she helped set up with other mothers as part of the Noor Women’s Empowerment Group.
“The project Noor started in 2010, we started with exactly three women,” Abu Odeh told me. Now they have thirty five families involved.
She knows of over 250 children with disabilities in Aida and nearby al-Azzeh camp; Abu Odeh’s own son Mohammad was born with cerebral palsy, and until she and the other mothers started to organise themselves there were little to no facilities within the camp for their children. Now they’ve a fully-equipped centre offering physical and speech therapy – with the help of funding from UNRWA.
One of the physical therapists, Saja Asad, tells me they have a lot of cases that improved.
“When we start with one of the children he couldn’t walk he was just crawling on the ground and he didn’t go outside,” she said. “I work with him in a physical therapy session and now he can walk.”
They also talk to children in the local schools about disability, and organise social events where families can meet and have fun. Abu Odeh shows me a video of one of these events; the children and adults dancing together.
“Maybe to care for my son is difficult,” Abu Odeh said. “But really I’m proud for my son – he teach me a lot.”
Watch a video about Noor here.