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Gaza Situation Update
Gaza Visit 22-24 May 2017

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Local institutions continue to expand
On my field visits to partner institutions, we were overwhelmed with news of expansion projects which will undoubtedly translate into better public services for the population. For instance, construction started a few weeks ago on a new building at the Rosary Sisters School. The building will consist of a large indoor auditorium, more classroom space and science labs, expanding the school and student body to the Tawjihi (11th and 12th grade) level. NECC’s VTC in Qarrarah will soon have a new program in the electrical department that trains electricians in installation and maintenance of photovoltaic solar panel systems as there is a greater demand for these systems in Gaza. Currently, this training program is the first and only specialized training program in this sector in the Gaza Strip. Another local partner, the Holy Family School, will construct an additional floor to expand and enhance its academic program. The Latin Patriarchate School is planning to offer a literary Tawjihi stream once the renovation of the school complex is complete. The Orthodox Cultural Center secured a grant to fully furnish and equip the first floor and complete construction of the second floor that will include conference halls and meeting rooms equipped with state-of the-art equipment. I also visited new institutions to explore other potential new projects (specifically Nawa for Culture and Arts Association through St. George Monastery in Deir Al Balah; and Qattan Foundation in Gaza City) which was encouraging given the number of children and youth activities at these institutions. Thus, the institutional presence in Gaza is flourishing despite the general conditions and misery of Gaza which is truly inspirational and unmatched anywhere I have visited in Palestine and Israel. Doing so much with so little is something we all need to learn from our brothers and sisters in Gaza.

Employment program helps improve skills and provide basic needs for families
As one would expect, one of the most critical issues for all people in Gaza is employment given that the general unemployment rate is still over 40 percent; the youth sector is as high as 65 percent and even 75 percent among young women! Our employment program in partnership with local partners is progressing extremely well as young graduates — both men and women, are gaining new skills and earning a decent wage for their families. I was very happy to receive briefings from our various employment projects. The Al-Ahli Arab Hospital’s three-year training and employment program currently employs 42 graduates in various departments of the hospital and over the entire project period, 99 jobs or 297 over the three years, will be secured. This includes professionals in the health sector which is one of the few growing sectors in Gaza as there is a number of new hospitals and clinics under construction. The Holy Family Parish’s two-year project just concluded its first phase employing five graduates, while the second phase will employ 16 graduates through the end of this year in collaboration with Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, the Orthodox Cultural Center, the YMCA, and the Latin Parish.

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