Apr 122011
 

Agriculture and Food in 2010Most of the world doesn’t have the benefit of picking up food from the corner store — they grow it themselves. A family’s plot of land has to provide for their nutritional and economic needs. HCI increases communities’ knowledge of sound agricultural methods and empowers farmers on how to diversify viable crops, make the best use of the local growing season, and preserve local natural resources. This results in communities that can produce nutritious food for themselves in a sustainable way. However, distributing food is sometimes necessary, especially during times of crisis, but HCI believes in teaching people to fish, plant gardens and raise livestock for their household needs. This holistic approach not only ensures that families don’t go hungry, but also looks out for their health needs and long-term economic prospects.

Agriculture and Food in 2010Almost completely destroyed by repeated wars, and crippled by a blockade, much of Gaza’s agriculture sector is still struggling to rebuild itself. In 2010 local low income farmers in Gaza were given the opportunity to supply the basic food items and agricultural products to the bakery HCI established in Gaza, giving them access to a direct market and improving their economic stability. The bakery, which provides bread and baked goods to hundreds of food-insecure households with a special focus on preschoolers, also offers job opportunities to local vulnerable women, particularly widows and women with special needs. Kindergarten age children in impoverished areas of Gaza were provided with food and non food distributions the same year, to ensure that they get at least one healthy meal a day in the face of soaring food prices, rampant poverty and food shortages that the area is suffering from. Also in 2010, HCI’s local team of volunteer veterinarians continued follow ups and field visits to provide assistance and consultation to the poultry keeping businesses that HCI helped families in need set up the year before.

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Apr 122011
 

Health and Sanitation in 2010Health is widely recognized as a cornerstone of human development because it underpins the gamut of human functioning. But health is also essential to human security, since survival and protection from illness are at the core of any concept of people’s wellbeing. There are many in the Middle East with little or no access to healthcare, with women suffering the most from neglect and gender biased traditions. HCI is conscious of this fact and is always working to help improve access to healthcare in communities all around the region.

Our work to build healthy communities, families and individuals is at the heart of HCI’s vision for social change. By collaborating with a range of partners, from village health committees to government agencies, we help build the means to improve maternal, newborn and child health, ensure proper nutrition and combat infectious diseases. HCI’s field teams provide long-term health and nutrition services to communities in need by operating clinics and training health workers.

Health and Sanitation in 2010In 2010, HCI worked to improve the mental and emotional health of distressed children in Gaza and the West Bank by providing them with focused psychosocial support to help them deal with emotional trauma, especially those who had lost family members, children with a new physical disability, children who live in women-headed households, and in families that have lost their livelihoods as part the Psychosocial Support for Children project. Meanwhile in Gaza, as part of the Reviving Lives and Livelihoods project, vulnerable families received health and sanitation related items such as essential medication and essential appliances that contribute to accessibility, mobility and a capacity for independent living, among other things.

HCI provided The Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt with financial support valued at $25,000 in recognition of the hospital’s achievements and vision in 2010; the hospital serves all Egyptians, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or ability to pay. All the necessary treatment and medication are provided free of charge if a family lacks sufficient financial means. Additionally, it provides support to families as they struggle to cope with the stress of a cancer diagnosis for their child. Furthermore, the hospital has inaugurated the country’s first school program for hospitalized children, to ensure that they are given the chance to succeed once they have completed their treatment. The hospital is committed to sustainability, and we are certain that no dollar will be wasted. It is money that will be used to help the hospital to expand, bringing its life-saving treatment, education, and message to ever larger numbers.

Health and Sanitation in 2010In April 2010, HCI team members headed to Dubai to participate in the largest humanitarian event in the Middle East; the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference (DIHAD). The theme for 2010 conference was “Global Health Challenges of Tomorrow: Impact and Response”. The team was invited to share HCI’s experiences in Palestine and Lebanon in a special event with the rest of the attendees which included members of several key international agencies such as The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Water is essential for life, good health and economic development — HCI provides water and sanitation programming, giving communities access to clean water, decreasing the incidence of communicable diseases, and improving the quality of life. In 2010 HCI built on the results and findings of the water and sanitation country analytical report for Sudan developed a year earlier, by designing and developing water and sanitation community projects in two settlements South and North of the Capital Khartoum.

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Mar 312011
 

KG Rehabilitation in GazaWhen natural disasters destroy housing or conflict forces families to flee their homes, HCI provides temporary and permanent shelter. HCI also contributes to local infrastructure by building schools, irrigation canals, and community centers in impoverished communities.

During the 2009 war a large section of Gaza’s infrastructure was destroyed and the crippling blockade has prevented any meaningful attempts at rebuilding. It is estimated that two thirds of children living in Gaza and the West Bank do not have safe areas for entertainment, socializing and playing.

In response, HCI launched its Kindergarten rehabilitation program in 2009 and tens of preschools in Gaza and the West Bank have been rehabilitated since. The project extended into 2010 to cover several additional kindergartens directly affected by the war.

Though physical rehabilitation and temporary employment creation are a major component of the program, equal attention is given to improving the quality of education and teaching as well. In addition, local residents participated in the rehabilitation of the KGs and were provided with temporary jobs.

In 2010 the housing conditions of unprivileged families in Gaza, particularly families with special needs, were assessed, HCI then provided them with the necessary home appliances and accessories to make their homes safer, more comfortable and more accessible.

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Mar 102011
 

This International Women’s Day, HCI and its local partners in Gaza celebrated together with a group of breast cancer survivors the launch of the Entrepreneurship Support for People with Special Needs project in Gaza which will provide breast cancer patients and other women entrepreneurs with special needs in Gaza the support and training needed to set up new businesses.

On the 8th of March, and over three days, these brave breast cancer survivors were provided with the necessary vocational training and support to enable them to manufacture breast prostheses as an income generating activity, the women were also provided with the materials and the skills needed to train other breast cancer survivors as well.

Breast cancer is a major health issue in modern society. Recent estimates approximate that 1 in 9 women will suffer from breast cancer during the course of their lifetime and some of these women will have to deal with the loss of one or both of their breasts. In Gaza these breast cancer survivors will not only have to deal with the physical and emotional trauma of the procedure, they additionally have to suffer the difficulties of a life under a crippling siege with little or no functioning infrastructure, services and support.

The psychological impact of breast amputation can be devastating for many and may lead to depression, increased anxiety, shame, and occasional ideas of suicide. To make matters worse, it is common for the husbands of breast amputees to abandon them for healthy new partners, leaving them emotionally and economically vulnerable, with no means to provide for themselves and no future marriage prospects.

The cost and availability of breast reconstruction procedures is beyond the means of most of Gaza’s population, and most of these women resort to wearing breast prostheses. Prosthetic breasts can be manufactured in Gaza for a fraction of the price of the imported ones that are sold in markets, making them more affordable to women that are already living a life of scarcity, barely able to afford the essentials.

HCI and our local partners the Aid and Hope Center for Cancer Patients, took the opportunity of the one hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day to celebrate these women’s strength and their will to overcome adversity. They are truly an inspiration to us.

The training was conducted over three days and was concluded with an event that was held at the roof of one of the highest buildings in Gaza with our local partner the Aid and Hope Center for Cancer Patients, where the trainees who are breast cancer survivors, joined with other cancer patients and survivors to say no to cancer and to affirm that cancer is beatable by a symbolic releasing of balloons in the air, the women each wrote what they were happy to be rid of on the balloons and symbolically released all that was negative in their lives.

This same group of women will be joined by a bigger group of women with different special needs to undergo business development training and business support and micro-businesses development as part of the Entrepreneurship Support for People with Special Needs project.

HCI has already been working with women and people with special needs across the region for over two decades and will continue to empower them to be active, self-reliant and initiating, encouraging others to follow their example and affecting society to consider women with special needs not merely as a subject of care and charity, but as equal citizens of society and holders of human rights able to provide for themselves and their families.

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Mar 092011
 

Life can change for millions of families in an instant: natural disasters can take loved ones and the outbreak of war drive families from their homes. When the unthinkable happens, HCI delivers rapid, lifesaving aid to hard-hit communities with the provision of food rations, clean water, non-food items, transitional shelter and emergency medical supplies and services.

The Gaza strip has been devastated by several wars and crippled by a blockade that prevents any meaningful rebuilding, following the opening of Rafah, Gaza’s only gateway to the rest of the world that is not controlled by Israel in 2010, HCI imported food items as part of the Food Security Project through the Rafah crossing for thousands of food-insecure Gazans, paying special attention to provide protein-rich foods such as meat and fish, which are difficult to find or to afford.

As HCI continues to help vulnerable Gazans rebuild their lives two years after the war, our approach has evolved to address the economic, social and psychological impact of war through several multifaceted approaches that target food insecurity, psychosocial support, rehabilitation, and livelihood revival. In 2010, young preschoolers were provided with food, clothing and educational toys. That same year, HCI’s Psychosocial Support for Children Project provided focused support to the most distressed children in Palestine, especially those who lost family members, children with a new physical disability, children who live in women-headed households, and in families that have lost their livelihoods.

Families are uncertain and vulnerable as they return to their communities to rebuild homes and lives after a crisis. HCI helps them transition from relief to recovery through innovative programs that get them back to work quickly, which restores dignity, puts pay in workers’ pockets and injects cash into ailing local economies.

As a result, local low-income farmers were provided the opportunity to supply the basic food items and agricultural products to the bakery HCI established in Gaza as part of The Food Point Project in 2010, giving them access to a direct market and improving their economic stability. The bakery, which provides baked goods to hundreds of food-insecure households, also offers employment opportunities to local vulnerable women, particularly widows and women with special needs. In the same year, economically deprived families in Gaza and the West Bank were provided with income generating capabilities such as backyard production units.

Vulnerable Gazans, particularly people with special needs, were provided with tailored services to boost their employability such as the distribution of appliances that contribute to accessibility and mobility, essential medical equipment and other essential items, contributing to independence and a better standard of living as part of the Reviving Lives and Livelihoods project.

HCI has been providing lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees and internally displaced people forced to flee from war or disaster in the Middle East for decades. In 2010 HCI worked with the internally displaced in Khartoum, Sudan helping disabled entrepreneurs to set up small businesses and teaching young orphans entrepreneurial skills. In the new Lake Nasser Settlements in Egypt, HCI distributed food and meat during Ramadan and Eid al Adha feast to underprivileged settlers.

HCI is always on the forefront of emergency response in the Middle East, always ready to intervene whenever crisis strikes, our interventions are swift yet carefully tailored to suit the situation at hand. HCI welcomes your partnership in caring for the world’s poor, including those affected by situations requiring an emergency response. Right now, our teams are working to provide aid to vulnerable children and families who are clinging to survival in the wake of natural and man-made disasters.

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Mar 092011
 

Education is the foundation of progress, but it is often interrupted by extreme poverty, war and other crises. As a result, individuals and their communities often can’t reach their full potential. HCI works to bring access to education to women and men of all ages and economic groups to help ensure a better future for all. HCI programs include a wide range of activities: teacher training programs, building libraries and Internet centers, providing books and classroom furniture to under-resourced schools, and promoting equal access to education.

HCI helps mobilize youth to influence a better tomorrow, while also offering education and job training to give them a place in the changing global economy. HCI programs empower youth through service learning and leadership training to become active in their communities and act as agents for change. As a result of this, in 2010 young orphans in Sudan benefitted from HCI’s entrepreneurship training workshops and real life “business for a day” programs, and young entrepreneurs with disability in Darfur, Sudan, received coaching in micro-business management. Meanwhile in Gaza and The West Bank, HCI also provided people with special needs with vocational training, coaching, and business development services.

In 2010, orphans in Sudan received the training and materials necessary to embark on their own business ventures. They were also given the opportunity to test their ideas under real-life circumstances, giving them real, relevant instruction on how to build a successful and sustainable business as part of the Today’s Orphans Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs project

Education is vital to the social and economic integration of future generations. HCI places a significant focus on this sector to ensure that children affected by conflict can continue to pursue their education. HCI works with communities to shelter and nurture children through innovative education, health and nutrition programs. In 2010 hundreds of orphans from the poorest communities of the Middle East were able to have their basic education, healthcare and nutrition needs met through HCI’s Child Sponsorship Program. In the same year HCI worked with several kindergartens in Gaza, supporting health services and nutrition programs targeting underprivileged children and HCI also supported the Human Concern Kindergarten that was launched in 2009; the kindergarten is located in Bethlehem and targets children with special needs, particularly those with hearing impairments.

Women are the foundation of every society. Yet for many women in the world’s poorest regions, life is extraordinarily difficult. Through innovative health, agricultural, business and education programs, HCI builds on the courage and resourcefulness of women to help them realize their potential and improve their families and communities. In 2010, Sudanese widows in the settlements around Khartoum, Sudan were able to set up small businesses with the financial support of HCI’s revolving microcredit funds, young girls in low income suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon are now able to design and implement community oriented development interventions and female social workers in Gaza had their capacities built in individualized needs assessments and breast cancer awareness with the help of HCI.

HCI aims at breaking down the sense of dependency of the local community on HCI, as a result, our projects are community-managed from the start. HCI programs are participatory and at the same time integrated development projects. Qualified community leaders are identified and trained on management and development issues relevant to the project. In this way project sustainability, particularly institutional sustainability, is ensured through handing “ownership” of project activities to the local community, this simultaneously empowers the community and ensures the sustainability of the project’s activities. In 2010 HCI built the capacities of several of its local partners in both Lebanon and Gaza as part of the Youth Impact Project and the Reviving Lives and Livelihoods project respectively. Giving them further training and tools that will help complement the important work that they do.

Many of poverty’s root causes can be found in conflict over resources, philosophies and goals, and societies are more peaceful and prosperous when citizens are actively involved in decision-making. In 2010, HCI created safe spaces where a group of young men and women from a low income suburb of Beirut from different religious, ethnic and political backgrounds came together to discuss and debate the choices that affect their lives and communities. HCI believes that engaging potential adversaries in productive dialogue can lead to mutually beneficial solutions for change. Conflict resolution today can help avoid tomorrow’s wars and other crises.

The 2010 Youth Impact Project also provided these Lebanese youth with developmental training and tools which led them to work together to produce a report mapping the challenges faced by their community and gave them an in-depth socio-cultural understanding and analysis that pays equal attention to existing social tensions, and conflicts including but not limited to gender, religion, sect, and race.

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Mar 082011
 

Throughout our long history of working with the marginalized, HCI has sought a participatory and empowering approach. Rather than building dependence on charity, we seek to foster self-reliance, and success. To do so we have often used a business development approach, helping to empower through the building of self-esteem, positive risk taking, and problem-solving. HCI fosters market-driven economic development in some of the Middle East’s most challenging places. We make use of already existing relationships — among buyers, sellers, producers and consumers — to bridge social and political divides via business and trade.

Finding new or better work is the most direct path out of poverty for families in need. HCI facilitates this process by providing vocational training, offering microfinance opportunities, and developing promising value chains. As a result of HCI’s efforts, in 2010, farmers in Gaza now have access to a direct market, improving their economic stability as part of the Food Point Project and orphans in Khartoum, Sudan received the training and materials necessary to embark on their own business ventures, as part of the Today’s Orphans Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurship project. These programs are aimed at long-term, reliable growth, and HCI often engages private sector partners to leverage additional resources and guarantee sustainability.

Young entrepreneurs with disability in Darfur, Sudan, received coaching in micro-business development in 2010, which resulted in them successfully developing and operating small income generating initiatives funded by HCI using a combination of grants and loans. The activities of this project were conducted as part of HCI’s Building Opportunities for Sudanese Disabled project. The economic health of these entrepreneurs was supported through this project, which eventually provided aid for their families and for the community as a whole.

Families are uncertain and vulnerable as they return to their communities to rebuild homes and lives after a crisis. HCI helps them transition from relief to recovery through innovative programs that get them back to work quickly, which restores dignity, puts pay in workers’ pockets and injects cash into ailing local economies. Nowhere is this approach more significant than in the Gaza Strip, which after being destroyed by repeated wars, and crippled by a blockade that prevents any meaningful attempt to rebuild, has become one of the poorest and most desperate places on earth.

To respond to Gaza’s needs, HCI’s projects are designed to be as multifaceted and holistic as possible, targeting several sectors simultaneously and efficiently. In 2010, HCI provided economically deprived households in Gaza and the West Bank with hens and the necessary equipment to establish small backyard poultry production units addressing their protein needs and offering them a means to generate an income, HCI also provided local vulnerable women such as widows and the disabled with job opportunities operating the bakery it established in Gaza which provides bread and baked goods to hundreds of food insecure families. The bakery also provides students of several kindergartens in Gaza with freshly-baked nutritious pastries.

In 2010, HCI also worked with people with special needs in Gaza and the West Bank, using tailored development services supplemented by micro-grants and business support to help them set up their own small businesses. By empowering this group of entrepreneurs with special needs, HCI is aiding the community as a whole; the increased employment and income generated by vocational training, on-the-job support, and business development services give communities an economic boost, and serve as a positive example for others.

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Mar 042011
 

HCI is celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day on the March the 8th by highlighting the plight of women entrepreneurs with special needs in the Middle East and launching a year of activities focusing on this group through a series of interventions specifically targeting their needs.

There is a distinct gender disparity in literacy and education, as well as low rates of female economic participation, public participation and representation in the Arab world, where forty percent of women over the age of fifteen are illiterate and female economic activity is thirty four percent that of males.

The general condition of women with disabilities and special needs in Arab societies is invisibility. They are often considered a source of shame and a burden to their families. Although their status varies from country to country, the theme of marginalization to a greater or lesser extent is common to all of them.

As women, they are segregated from male society, but as women with special needs they are also isolated from the lives of other women. They are, for all intents and purposes, invisible; their issues receive little, or no, consideration; and there are very few programs that target them specifically.

In communities where a woman’s status is dependent on making “a good marriage”, being “a good wife” and a “good mother”, these women do not stand a chance. They are not considered marriageable and often their siblings are also overlooked in marriage by reason of association.

HCI has been working with women and people with special needs across the region for over two decades and will continue to do this by highlighting their plight and empowering them to be active, self-reliant and initiating, encouraging others to follow their example and affecting society to consider women with special needs not merely as a subject of care and charity, but as equal citizens of society and holders of human rights able to provide for themselves and their families.

This year we are supporting physically challenged women entrepreneurs in Darfur, Sudan by providing them with loans to set up micro-businesses, we are providing breast cancer patients and other women entrepreneurs with special needs in Gaza with support and training to set up new businesses and we are providing physically challenged young women from vulnerable and low-income areas of Cairo whose businesses have been adversely affected by the recent events with training, loans and in-kind support toward rebuilding their micro enterprises.

Our interventions this year supporting women entrepreneurs with special needs will not end here. New interventions will be launched this year; and HCI is taking the opportunity of the one hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day to celebrate these women’s strength and their will to succeed. They are truly an inspiration to us.

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