PYALARA stands for the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership And Rights Activation. It was established in the year 1999 and obtained its official registration at the Palestinian Ministry of interior in May 2003 under the number QR-166-S. PYALARA has a main headquarter located in Al-Bireh and with two field-offices; a field office in Nablus and another in Gaza. Recently, we obtained a permit to establish another field-office in East Jerusalem.

Since its establishment in 1999, PYALARA has been working to fulfill its goals as stated in its mission and programs. Realizing that PYALARA is a youth oriented NGO, all our activities are directed towards Palestinian youth, both males and females between the ages 13-25 in the different Palestinian areas including West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Over the past nine years we have focused on creating the cadres of well-informed youth who are capable of incurring positive changes within the Palestinian society, equip them with the necessary information, techniques and tools that would enhance their capacities and provide them with the practical experience which they lack. In addition to that, we managed to deal with thousands of Palestinian pupils, children and adolescents (direct beneficiaries). They were involved in thousands of workshops that tend to educate them on their rights as stipulated in Convention on Rights of Children (CRC) and International human rights conventions, uplift their morale, give them hope for the future and encourage them to play a positive role in the society and enable them to use media as a tool to voice their problems and needs and advocate for their rights. Reaching such direct beneficiaries requires a long process of coordination and networking with different official and non official organizations. Besides, we managed to reach hundreds of thousands of Palestinians through our media outlets, both visual and print. We dare say that we have managed to create a youth media culture in Palestine and took concrete steps towards institutionalizing the rights of young people to own and manage their own media in Palestine.

Mission

PYALARA is an independent Palestinian youth organization that seeks to create young Palestinian leaders who are aware of their rights and duties as equal citizens, capable of incurring social and political change, and effectively participate in building a democratic society through specialized media, lobbying and advocacy.

Vision

PYALARA envisions a being the place where tomorrow is shaped and young leaders are born.

Strategic

  • Empowering Palestinian youth to effectively lead the process of social and political change within their communities and society at large.
  • Mainstreaming youth issues and rights into Palestinian public discourse and development programming.
  • Building the capacity of PYALARA towards better fulfilling its mission and objectives sustainably.

Overview of PYALARA’s Programs and Achievements

The Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation – PYALARA – was established by a group of Palestinian youth professionals in 1999 as a youth organization that seeks to activate and empower young Palestinians (between 13 and 25 years), and equipping them with the necessary skills that would enable them to address their issues, needs and rights and, thus, contribute towards ending the occupation and creating stepping stones for democratic nation building. For the past ten years, PYALARA has been working on rebuilding the resilience of young Palestinians through activating their role in the society, improving their psychosocial well being, and granting them independent media forums through which they can express themselves. PYALARA's work is grouped under two main complementary and mutually reinforcing programs: the Palestinian youth media program, and the wellbeing program.

The wellbeing program was conceived in mid 2000 after a workshop held in Jerusalem within the framework of PYALARA’s review of its youth-to-youth psycho-social counselling activities under a three-year project titled “We Care”. During this workshop, which was attended by youth development specialists, psycho-social counselling experts and youth organizations, it was recommended to complement the psycho-social counselling activities with other activities that strengthen ties among youth and engage them meaningfully in the development of their communities and/or responding to their collective needs. Accordingly, using the Public Achievement theory, PYALARA developed the wellbeing program with the purpose of empowering youth to sustain and improve their wellbeing through building youth’s leadership capacity and engaging them as a group in advocating change that positively affects their political, physical and psycho-social wellbeing.

The core elements of the wellbeing program are peer-to-peer capacity building and counselling, leadership building, and advocacy through local initiatives and media (the media program). The wellbeing program approach has yielded positive results in terms of effectively engaging youth in community development and fostering personal and professional growth among youth. The combination of the peer-to-peer approach with media activities has become an integral part of PYALARA and its activities, and synonymous to our identity as an organization.

Using this approach, PYALARA has managed to engage and mobilize youth in several local and national advocacy campaigns by raising their awareness of and building their capacity -through training and mentoring- to act on issues that they identify as priorities on the one hand, and on issues that PYALARA as a youth organization advocates for on the other. Among the national advocacy initiatives implemented within the framework of the wellbeing framework are 1) engaging youth and other stakeholders across the West Bank and Gaza Strip in reviewing the draft youth policy prepared by the Ministry of Youth and Sport and formulating a position paper in this regard; 2) implementing an advocacy campaign for the establishment of a student fund, which resulted in several initiatives for this purpose; and 3) implementing an advocacy campaign for the establishment of a school and student insurance program as a form of protection for students, which resulted in bringing public attention to the subject and an announcement by the Minister of Health that such program will soon be implemented.

In order to increase the impact of the wellbeing program, PYALARA has been making efforts to strengthen the alignment between the wellbeing program and its media program, which has been geared towards providing an independent space for youth to express their issues and concerns. This alignment serves to strengthen the effectiveness of both programs by making the media program serve the objectives of the wellbeing program through enhancing youth’s capacity to utilize media as a tool for affecting change, while at the same time providing youth with opportunities to tap media to exercise their talents in expressive writing and various forms of art. The media program has been thus far focused on print and audio-visual media and media training.

Print Media

The Youth Times (TYT): The Youth Times is 24-page, tabloid-size monthly newspaper that represents an alternative media for more than 120,000 Palestinian readers below the age of 25. It is the only local newspaper that is published on a regular basis by youth and discusses youth issues and perspectives. In 2002, UNICEF New York selected The Youth Times as one of most successful leading global youth initiatives due to its editorial style, longevity, relevance and high professionalism.

During the second Intifada and the escalation in the crisis and the violence, a big number of young Palestinians felt marginalized, politically lost and unable to identify their role. PYALARA mobilized The Youth Times to its fullest capacity. The paper served as a platform from upon which young Palestinians would express their nationalism and love for their country. Young people were encouraged to write, express themselves, address officials in the world by sending letters through emails and posting these letters on internet sites, and their voices found the platform. We taught young people that media could serve as a constructive tool in showing their love for their country, in expressing their refusal to injustice and occupation: “you don’t have to die to prove that you love Palestine… you don’t have to hurt others to make them feel your pain…” Under such slogans and beliefs, hundreds of young Palestinians used their pens in making their voices heard. The Youth Times proved to be very effective in reaching young people in very underprivileged areas, raise their awareness about their rights, empower them to make their voices heard and help in mobilizing them to make use of the specialized youth media outlets to approach decision-makers, spread awareness and lobby for their issues. Throughout our work in a number of schools, we came across a number of problems pupils are facing. Such problems include lack of recreational classes and even replacing them with academic ones, physical violence teachers exert against pupils, and in a certain schools marijuana was planted. Our youth reporters prepared a journalistic report concerning the three issues and it was published in the TYT. As a result representatives of the ministry education and upon reading the report met with us. They formed an investigative committee that gathered all the information and submitted its finding to the Minister of Education and Higher Education who in turn issued a decree stating: prohibiting all kind of violence exerted against pupils, prohibiting replacing recreational classes and calling for a through investigation of the drug issue. This example reflects the role TYT can play in attracting attention of Palestinians officials towards pupils issues and concerns

In addition, The Youth Times has been leveraged to contribute to the development of professional youth media. For more than six years now, The Youth Times has trained hundreds of youth (13-25 years) on the use of print media as springboard for social and political change, using the highest standards of professional journalism. Scores of these youth have become correspondents and regular contributors to the newspaper as well as to other media forums. The Youth Times is one of the marked achievements of PYALARA not only for the success it achieved in creating a new culture and trend in Palestinian media –which is being emulated by others- but also because it empowered Palestinian youth to be engaged in the political, social, economic and cultural discourse that affects them.

Visual Media

In 2002, PYALARA, in cooperation with the United Nations’ Children Fund and Palestine TV (Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation), launched a weekly TV program called Alli Sotak by and for young Palestinians. The TV program tends to allocate special attention and place for the voices of Palestinian youth, encouraging them to SPEAK UP on issues that concern them. PYALARA decided to initiate such a program after realizing that the harsh political circumstances take up the largest portion of attention from local and international media, leaving young Palestinians marginalized and distant from the main picture except when addressing the independence movement of Palestinians where young people constitute major activism on the streets.

Thus, the generally politicized and nationalistic atmosphere, keeping a constant emergency nature, is unintentionally undermining the young members of the Palestinian society by not providing a direct vessel through which they can express their own concerns and expectations regarding their nation and their role as active members in it. And though it is clear that Palestinian youth are taking up an important place in the political movement of their people on the streets and resistance fronts, it is yet the chaotic nature of this movement that limits their understanding of what their role as citizens is beyond the Intifada. Through the media program, and thus far through Alli Sotak, youth have been shown how to fight for independence through other means such as media.

The program seeks to achieve the following goals: giving Palestinian youth and children media space for the development of an independent voice, creating awareness among Palestinian children and youth about their rights, and responsibilities, creating attention among the larger Palestinian community for the voice and rights of Palestinian youth and children, supporting the development of youth program on the national Palestinian TV channels, increasing the participation of young Palestinians and youth-service organizations in the public discourse over issues of national concern, and creating youth role-models for young people, especially those coming from peripheral and marginalized areas, to further entrench the concept that youth can be effective agents for social and political change.

Making it a priority to activate youth in this program, youth participate in every stage of implementation of this program. This has been done through the training of a cadre of youth volunteers on television production and engaging students and young leaders in the various stages of production. On average, some 45 episodes of Alli Sotak are produced and broadcast live on Palestine Television annually. The topics are often linked to the issues emerging from the wellbeing program and, in several instances, focus on emerging issues on the Palestinian scene to encourage and promote youth to participate in public discourse and make it a cultural norm for youth to have a voice in the media on these issues.

Aware of the need to diversify its audio-visual productions to increase outreach and strengthen its public awareness and education approaches, PYALARA has trained youth to produce several documentary films to shed light on issues of high relevance and concern to youth. These documentaries are used in PYALARA’s capacity building activities (under the wellbeing program) and introduced to schools as an educational tool. PYALARA found these documentaries to be highly effective not only in building the capacity of youth in media production (filmmaking), but also in soliciting discussions among youth and building consensus among them on issues that concern them. This is most likely why UNRWA school administrations have approached PYALARA on several occasions to request copies of PYALARA’s documentaries to show in their schools. The themes of these documentaries have been identified through PYALARA’s field work and engagement with youth in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which make them highly effective in sending poignant messages to viewers of all ages. Documentaries in recent years have dealt with issues concerning child labor, violence, gender inequality and youth immigration.

Linked to the above, PYALARA has been piloting several television programs, including Talat Maqdisiyeh and Iftah Li Qalbaq. The former, which won two awards for best production, was a daily show broadcast during the month of Ramadan from Jerusalem to shed light on certain aspects of Palestinian life in Jerusalem, with the view of bridging the disconnect between Palestinian youth in the West Bank and Gaza and their peers in Jerusalem. The latter dealt with social and psychological problems Palestinian youth suffer from especially in Gaza Strip, and provided self-healing guidance from specialists in this regard.


Board of Directors

Name Profession
Ms. Hiba Ibrahim Tawfiq Huseini Head of board
Mr. Karem Mahmoud Nashwan Deputy
Mr. Ghazi Ahmad Beni Odeh Secretary
Mr. Francis Hana Espiro Tamms Treasurer
Ms. Amal Bakr Mohamad Said Khraishe Member
Ms.Ilham Ibrahim Omar Ghnaim Member
Ms.Zena Azmi Khalil Abu Hamdan Member

 

List of Employees

Number

Name

Title

 

Admin Department

 

1

Hania Bitar

C.E.O

2 Hamdi Hamamreh Evaluation and Developmen Officer

3

Naela Hedayah

Procurement  And Personal Officer

4

Saher Jibreel

Accountant

5

Omar Mteir

accountan  Assistant

6

Hamzeh Mteir Driver

 

 

 

 

TYT Department

 

7

Helmi Al-Janadieh

Managing Editor

8 Mirna Zyadeh  Editor Assistant

 

   

 

TV Department  

9

Mohammad Halayka

Cameraman & TV Editor 

10

Munther Khawldeh

Cameraman & TV Editor  

11

Samia Salah Eldin

TV Presenter

 

 

 

 

Social Department

 

12

Alaa'  Al-Din Halayka

 Poject Coordinator

13

Mohammad Twam

 Project Coordinator

 

 

 

Gaza Office

 

14

Ala' Mqbel

Gaza Branch Officer

15

Sharif Alsharif

Media Coordination

16

Hekmat Masri

Field Coordinator