ANERA: Human Development Programming in Palestine

PITAPOLICY supports community and human development programming activities and welcomes organizer perspectives who have recently volunteered for an activity.  Bassema Youssef, a DC based consultant, organized an event regarding human development programming in Gaza.  So this week’s post highlights ANERA’s (American Near East Refugee Aid) work through a perspective from both a specialist in communications, Lena Badr.


By: Lena Badr

Washington, DC~Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 was a memorable night for the American Near East Refugee Aid supporters in Washington DC as we got the pleasure of welcoming ANERA’s Gaza Communications Officer, Rania El-Hilou, to the nation’s capital to give a first-hand account of the humanitarian situation in Gaza, Palestine. She introduced attendees to the people of her community who live daily under the realities of the continued Israeli blockade.

ANERA’s top leaders and officers engaged the crowd, whose knowledge of the Palestinian plight ranged from well-known activists to newly interested members, about the popular NGO’s recent and current projects in the region. The audience was intrigued to learn that they had the support of huge organizations, such as TOMS shoes, who recently completed a donation of 18,000 shoes to Gazan children. Emotions were tested as Rania showed her own documented videos of the children receiving the shoes and their excitement. Rania was also able to shed light on other ANERA initiatives such as water storage tanks, family gardens, and education in the region.

ANERA is a leading provider of development, health, education and employment programs to Palestinian communities and impoverished families in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon. However, most DC residents were unaware of the high approval ratings this NGO continues to receive and the fact that 96% of donations go directly to establishing jobs for the Palestinian people as they pool their own strengths and resources to create a better future.

The crowd also got the privilege of sharing a few laughs with local up and coming comedian Raad Missmar who infamously touches on the experience of growing up as an Arab-American. The entire crowd enthusiastically responded to his jokes as each could relate in their own personal way.

Overall, it was a night of networking and becoming familiar with an organization that works genuinely with the Palestinian people to learn about their specific troubles and then creates a game plan for countering those obstacles. Lawyers, responded with wanting to help as pro-bono legal representation, UNRWA leaders voiced the desire to reinforce ANERA’s future goals, and all who attended showed an eager will to be a part of such a motivating, non-denominational, progressive organization. It was a night of inspiration and once again the nation’s capital proved to be an extraordinary place to turn to when it comes to support for the Palestinians and their refugees.

Note: Lena Badr received her BA in Government & International Relations from George Mason University.  Her writings can be seen here:  Follow Lena on Twitter:@misslenabadr.

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