Empowering Lives in Crisis: Sharek Sha’bak’s Humanitarian Journey
Sharek Youth Forum is actively engaged in various humanitarian and relief interventions through the “Sharek Sha’bak” campaign, a national youth-led campaign that originated during the 2009 Gaza war. The campaign's ongoing mission is to provide immediate support and assistance to the people of Gaza, strengthening their resilience in the face of arbitrary aggression that targets civilians, including children, women, people with disabilities, and the elderly. This initiative has benefited hundreds of thousands. This year, the campaign extended its reach to many areas of the West Bank, including the “Youth with You” initiative, targeting workers from the Gaza Strip whose permits were terminated after October 7th.
Extending a Helping Hand
Sharek Youth Forum plays a crucial role in enhancing humanitarian service during this period. Through our Sharek Sha’bak campaign, Sharek’s strategy remains clear and goal-oriented. Sharek remains dedicated to providing humanitarian aid and support to the people in need. Since the aggression laid its true weight, the horrific attacks at Gaza echoes in the West Bank heavily. Therefore, the decision of extending our effort to reach all affected communities: the displaced people in the Gaza Strip; the Gazan workers and patients who had their Israeli work and health permits terminated; and the communities suffering the most in the West Bank such as refugee camps (like Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalandia), the towns closest to areas “C” and others.
Given the ongoing blockade imposed by the Israeli military, severely restricting the entry of vital supplies and basic necessities into the Gaza Strip, Sharek has adjusted its operational approach to surmount these challenges. Leveraging our well-established supply chain networks within the region has become crucial to ensuring that those in shelters have access to the minimum requirements for survival.
Our collaboration with UNRWA plays a pivotal role in this endeavour. Supported by UNRWA's resources and transportation infrastructure, we have successfully implemented a distribution system that reaches multiple shelters in strategic locations, including Khan Younes, Alwusta Governate, and Rafah. This collaborative effort underlines our commitment to making a tangible impact on the lives of those affected by the crisis, helping them endure adversity with resilience and strength.
Our multilayered approach encompasses not only recreational initiatives but also critical psychosocial support sessions, recognizing the profound importance of addressing emotional well-being in times of crisis. These interventions are further complemented by the distribution of various essential kits and health items, catering to the specific needs of those residing in the shelter centers.
Through a massive chain of partnerships with UNFPA, UN Women, World Food Program (WFP), the Future Development Commission, the Palestinian scout, and all active institutions, we save no effort supporting the Palestinian communities. In Ramallah, our efforts include providing psychological support and basic needs for patients, children, women, and men, along with their families hosted in health centers (Arab Istishari Hospital, Specialized H-Clinic) and hotels.
Sharek's commitment extends beyond immediate relief efforts, envisioning a broader, sustained commitment to supporting vulnerable groups in the Gaza Strip. Our approach unfolds in the wake of the initial month of crisis, taking into consideration the evolving situation and the added challenges posed by the arrival of winter. The core objective of our expanded commitment is to provide timely, targeted, and effective assistance to those in increasingly hazardous circumstances.
Our comprehensive plan comprises primary interventions such as: Psychosocial Support recognizing the immense impact of crises on mental and emotional well-being, our psychosocial support programs aim to provide individuals with the necessary tools and guidance to navigate these challenging times successfully; Clothing Kits: The arrival of winter necessitates specific provisions to ensure warmth and comfort. Our clothing kits are accurately prepared to address this need, targeting individuals of all ages and ensuring they are well-equipped to face the season's demands; Hygiene and Consumables Kits: Basic hygiene and essential consumables are indispensable for maintaining health and dignity, especially considering the severe shortage of access to clean water. Sharek is committed to providing these kits to safeguard the well-being of those we serve, ensuring access to critical items required for daily living.
By implementing these strategic interventions, Sharek aims to offer holistic support that not only addresses immediate needs but also helps individuals and families regain a sense of stability and security during this challenging period in the Gaza Strip. Together with UNRWA and other partners, we strive to make a meaningful and enduring difference in the lives of those affected by the crisis, reaffirming our dedication to the well-being of vulnerable communities.
In 2014, The “Sharek Sha’bak” campaign first started as a response to the crises our people endured in the Gaza Strip during the 2009 Israeli aggression. Emitting form Sharek’s role as a local organization, and the responsibilities that Sharek stands for, Sharek Sha’bak was brought to life. This came as a response to needs of the displaced in the Gaza Strip and to provide them with health aid and necessary needs in 50 shelter centers, in addition to moral intervention to relieve children and women, and to mitigate the impact of the horrific war conditions on their psychology. More than 350 volunteers from Sharek Youth Forum coordinated actively between parties seeking to provide support and relief campaigns to deliver aid to the displaced.
The Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip of July 2014, threw the region into a serious humanitarian crisis. The military operation resulted in the loss of 2174 Palestinian lives, including 530 children and 302 women, and injured over 10,870 individuals, with 3303 children and 2101 women among them. Many of those injured suffered serious or permanent disabilities. The attacks caused extensive damage to homes and public infrastructure, seriously jeopardizing water, sanitation, and medical services.
No one was spared from the impact of the Israeli attacks. As of July 30, around 245,000 displaced Gazans sought shelter in United Nations or government schools. The sick and wounded were left trapped and unassisted, and entire families were tragically affected. The death and injury toll, primarily comprising children, women, and the elderly, continued to rise.
The significant losses in lives, livelihoods, infrastructure, facilities, and residences underscored the urgent need for intervention to alleviate the suffering population. The provision of essential goods and relief services was crucial during this tragic period. Therefore, Sharek Youth Forum launched three operation rooms in the different governorates of the Gaza Strip (Gaza City, Khan Younis, and Deir al Balah). These locations had been dedicated throughout the war as operation rooms for the provision of emergency assistance services, and were operating as focal points for other organizations to coordinate efforts in providing assistance.
During the war, Sharek Youth Forum's volunteer teams engaged in purchasing and distributing essential items to families in need. This included 500 food packages, 1500 hot meals for displaced individuals in shelters, and 5000 bottles of drinking water. Monetary donations facilitated the procurement of 290 infant packages (diapers, milk, etc.), cleaning supply packages for 15 shelters, and 70 first aid and medical kits. Additionally, 1850 hygiene products, such as soap, shampoo, and sanitation pads, were distributed. Donations included 5000 articles of clothing, 120 pairs of shoes, and 200 mattresses. For individuals with disabilities, 6 wheelchairs and 2 crutches were provided. Recognizing the trauma experienced by the population, Sharek initiated psychosocial support activities for youth and children in over 50 shelters, reaching more than 50,000 children. These activities encompassed arts therapy, games, and Eid preparation, complemented by the creation and distribution of recreational kits for children.
Sharek Youth Forum, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund and the European Union, and in cooperation with UNRWA and the Jenin Camp Services Committee, launched the “Sharek Sha’bak in Jenin” campaign in response to the Israeli aggression against the Jenin refugee camp and its inhabitants on July 3, 2023. The aftermath of the aggression was enormous, necessitating significant efforts. The campaign, which involved over 200 volunteers from various governorates of the country, encompassed providing assistance through volunteer work to various agencies operating in the city of Jenin. Additionally, a psychological first aid program was implemented for children and women in the city of Jenin and its camp.
Where volunteers participated in rehabilitating the Korean Center in Jenin by carrying out cleaning work, removing waste, and organizing the halls and facilities of the center to resume work on summer activities and events for children and youth from the city of Jenin, after it was used as a shelter to receive displaced families from the Jenin camp.
Sharek also initiated a moral intervention program aimed at providing relief to children and women, mitigating the impact of the harrowing war conditions on their psyches in the Youth Village. The program involved hosting groups of children from Jenin camp, allowing them to participate in two days of purposeful movement, artistic activities, and events. Additionally, they experienced camping and sleeping outside the home, reaping the benefits of such activities. This had a profound impact on developing their abilities, providing opportunities for independent actions, enhancing their self-confidence, and exposing them to new adventures.