The idea of Project Hope was born in the midst of the Second Intifada. After-school activities were the best way to keep children away from the streets, from danger. To normalize their lives as much as possible.
Samah Atout, co-founder
A city under siege
In 2003, Nablus was a city under siege. Tanks patrolled the streets. Checkpoints divided neighborhoods. Tens of thousands of families were trapped in their homes by curfews and gunfire. While hundreds were killed and thousands more injured, countless others were traumatized as they witnessed their home’s destruction or the murder of a loved one. In a city where 60% of the population is younger than 19, many of these witnesses where children.
An international humanitarian NGO
It was against this backdrop that two Palestinians and a Canadian came together to found Project Hope. With little more than an idea, a shoestring budget and a laptop, they started bringing classes to children who were unable to get to school. They built relationships with community centers and local Palestinian volunteers. They recruited volunteer teachers from around the globe, to bring the world outside Nablus to Palestinians trapped inside.
The international volunteers are able to help children to play, to have fun, to live everyday lives. They give them stability when the world has been so often shattered around them.
Jeremy Wildeman, co-founder
Project Hope today
As the years passed, Project Hope grew at an exponential rate, earning grants and receiving generous donations that enabled the employment of a large Palestinian staff, as well as the transformation of its offices into a two-story Education Center — home to five classrooms, a language library, a computer education lab, a community Net Café free and open to the public, and plenty of room for our monthly speaker series. Today Project Hope serves near 1000 students per month and hosts more than 100 international volunteers annually. Classes consistently average between 10 and 15 students each, and range from Business English to Graphic Novel Design to Yoga.
Things are quieter in Nablus today, but important community rebuilding remains to be done. While the streets of the city are quite safe, Israeli Occupation Forces still make nightly incursions into the refugee camps on the outskirts of town, where many of Project Hope’s students live. Education remains vital to the futures of young Palestinians, and huge needs persist, especially in the camps. In addition, we plan to further expand our programs into rural villages and other outlying areas, including Tulkarem, Qalqilya, and Hebron. It has long been Project Hope’s goal to bring activities to where they are most needed, and these cities and villages remain isolated due to the effects of occupation.
Project Hope has become an integral part of the Nablus community, built from the grassroots up by local volunteers and staff, and supported globally by countless acts of charity and hours of service. Project Hope exists thanks to the generosity of those with a common commitment to the rights of the child. Join us, and help us bring hope to the children and youth of Nabus for years to come.