As Israel continues its multiple efforts to take over all of Jerusalem, people in the area of Silwan face constant threats, including home demolitions, arrests and detention of young people, and attacks by Israeli settlers and soldiers. MECA’s partner the Madaa Creative Center provides support to young people who are arrested; a library with arts, reading, and writing activities; a sports field and teams; a community café, academic tutoring, and more. The Youth Leadership program highlighted below was created to address the psychological, social, and recreational needs of young people who were arrested and detained and others who have experienced trauma.
MECA Palestine Projects & Social Media Coordinator Waed Abbas recounts the experience of one struggling young man who was guided and supported by the social workers at the Madaa Center:
Fourteen-year-old Tariq (not his real name) lost his father at a young age. His mother is from the West Bank, and without a Jerusalem resident’s ID, it’s very difficult to travel back and forth so she and her children are cut off from her family.
Tariq used to be among the top in his class, but he became alienated from his community, and his family. He didn’t want to spend time with friends and his academic performance deteriorated tremendously.
The social workers from Madaa worked with Tariq and his family and, after many sessions, convinced him to join the Youth Leadership Program and attend the youth camp. His behavior has completely shifted. Tariq was voted the youth leader of his group, and he’s now a mentor to other young people. His academic performance is back on track, and he’s interacting with his peers, his mother, and his siblings.
When Tariq returned from camp, his mother said, “He never spoke this much his entire life! He told me everything that happened in three days. I wanted to cry from happiness, my son is finally back! He’s back to his joyful amazing self.” Tariq added, “I believe these were the best three days of my life! I am so happy I joined!”