Active Citizens volunteering for a cleaning campaign, Nablus March 2014, © Anwar Mahroum
Challenge, creativity, accomplishment and hope
According to 2007 statistics, the District of Nablus has a population of 321,000, the majority of them (60%) are youth ages between 15-35 years old. Despite the large rate of youth, recent studies suggest that only 8% of youth participate in volunteer activities. The reasons for the lack of volunteer activities are blamed on a number of issues such as the lack of volunteer centres and initiatives, the lack of coordination between social and religious groups, and the weak structure of local community-based organisations.
As part of the “Active Citizenship” project, a youth initiative formed a volunteer group from 15 CBOs. Named: “Voluntary work associations Federation/ Nablus”. This volunteer group is led by 5 democratically-elected leaders. The first initiative that volunteer group took was to target orphan children and children inflected with cancer. This initiative was well-received in the community, and the volunteer group further extended its work with imprisoned children in the occupation jails.
Another initiative was conducted with the Municipality of Nablus to regulate traffic in the city. The volunteer group also took initiative protect and preserve historic places in the city.
These initiatives have appealed so well to the community that the volunteers have raised to reach 1,000. The success of this volunteering initiative has become a great example to follow, and some youth in other cities have expressed their willingness to replicate it.