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Blog: CHF Executive Vice President Chris Sale Visits CHF Projects in the Middle East (Part 2)
Published 04/29/2011 by Global Communities
Blog: EVP Chris Sale’s Visit to the Middle East
PHOTO: On her last day in Ramallah, Chris Sale, CHF’s Senior Vice President and COO visits a park CHF built with the support of the local community and learns about the Youth Shadow Council and how young people are engaged in working with their local government.
On my last day in Ramallah, I visited our USAID-funded municipal infrastructure and capacity building projects in surrounding towns. Our goal is to accompany structural improvements with governance and management skills, which will ensure that the structural improvements provide the desired benefits beyond our participation.
Al Ram is a large town of 50,000 inhabitants. We visited a park which CHF has helped the town build with large support from the local citizenry. Schools do not have playgrounds and there are not safe places for children, youth and families to meet for outdoor recreation. The park is lovely and on a ledge midway up the hill the town sits on. The Mayor, two council members and two members of the Youth Shadow Council met us there. They spoke with pride of how the community came together to participate in the design and the construction of the park. They further told me of the care they have taken to design procedures to ensure its maintenance.
We also visited the new Al Ram town hall, which is almost ready for occupancy. It has a one-stop space for municipal services to be provided: be they social services, documents, licenses or to resolve issues of local utilities. Having all in one place will make it easier for the citizens of Al Ram to get things done, and to be in contact with the municipal government. The building also includes the town’s first ever library, which will be managed by volunteers, a space for citizens to have group events – women’s interests and youths being of primary interest; finally upstairs, the building houses the Mayor’s office, the town council room and an office for members to use.
In designing the building our team made sure council members as well as the Mayor were involved, as this will provide for a continued commitment to the building from all aspects of local society. CHF also assisted in the establishment of a Youth Shadow Council. Young students were encouraged to organize, hold elections and designate their own participants to represent their concerns in council affairs. This gives young people a voice and a learning opportunity to see how democracy works in their town, to influence and be responsible for certain processes to be part of the solution. The Youth Council Chair and Vice Chair were with us for the visit, and are excited about how this opportunity has changed their sense of engagement in their own local affairs.
We then travelled to Roujeeb where CHF is managing the monthly food distribution to Palestinians living in camps due to displacement from their lands. Rations of flour, oil and chickpeas were being distributed, in an orderly and very well documented procedure.