The Orient House





Youth Development Department

  • Objectives
  • Programs
  • Activities


According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), 63% of the population of Jerusalem is now below 24 years of age. Palestinian youth have played a pivotal role in the struggle for Palestinian rights and statehood, especially trough the Intifada (1987-1994), during which this population sector grew up and was affected by the experiences of that particular period.

Closure of educational institutions, extended curfews, confrontations with Israeli soldiers, house demolitions, long imprisonment, strikes and the breakdown authority have all left deep marks on the often called "Lost Generation's" attitude and aspirations.

Following the Oslo Accord in 1993 and its political changes, the roles and the responsibilities of the youth have greatly shifted. Instead of leading demonstrations and confrontations with the Israeli soldiers, youngsters should now begin to build their society in a democratic and civil manner.

The current context of the Al-Aqsa Intifada which begun on the 29st September 2000 has dramatically degraded the already precarious conditions of living of the Palestinian youth. Its death toll speaks for itself: 400 deads and around 18000 injured, many of them disabled for the rest of their life.

In this tragic context the need for youth education and a democratic society is bigger than ever, and the Youth Development Department aims to be part of this vital process for the Palestinian youth.

Statement of Need

While Palestinian youth organizations in Jerusalem have adapted to the new political environment, they have to face several challenges.

Firstly, the magnitude of the target group. With 63% of the population in Jerusalem now below 24 years of age and 21% between 15-24 years, the target group has expanded past the capacity of local institutions. This growing segment of the population is left extremely vulnerable to conditions which remain grossly inadequate.

Secondly, the many problems faced by the Palestinian youth. For one, the poor economic condition leaves many youngsters unemployed. The lack of adequate educational facilities in Palestinian areas of Jerusalem has also left many of them without a proper education: one study even indicates that 40% of Palestinian secondary students in the Old City drop out, mostly due to reasons of substandard education and financial responsibilities to their families. These difficult circumstances have given rise to a host of symptomatic problems resulting drug abuse, child labor and domestic violence, among others.

These poor economical and social conditions in Jerusalem have also limited the development of youth institutions. According to a recent survey by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, while 43 sport clubs exist in Jerusalem, only five of them are dedicated to the enrichment of youth and youth activities. These institutions lack resources in the area of networking, in particular youth exchange programs. There is a need for more coordination among these clubs and with local NGOs involved in youth programs.

The Orient House

The Orient House is the leading Palestinian institution in Jerusalem. It functions as a government office in the city for all the Palestinian residents, and enjoys the full recognition of most of the foreign governments.

The Orient House started operating in the late eighties, and went through different stages of forced closure by the Israeli governments, and by its own internal transformation.

When the PLO offices were still in Tunis, the Orient House operated as the PLO leadership in the Palestinian Territories. During the first Intifada period (87-93), it became the center of nationalism and decision making for all the Palestinian territories.

In the late eighties, the Orient House took the leading role in the Madrid conference and managed fully the follow-up in Washington.

Today, after the Oslo process and the new Intifada, the Orient House keeps its leading role regarding the final status negotiations, in particular the negotiations over Jerusalem. Any future for the city of Jerusalem will be shared with the Orient House, as the Orient House is the Palestinian address in Jerusalem.

The Youth Development Department

As the Orient House considers youth as an essential part of the future development of Jerusalem, it has taken the initiative to establish a specialized department exclusively dedicated to this population sector. The department aims to support the youth initiatives and to provide them with a spectrum of opportunities both locally and internationally. The Youth Development Department (YDD) focuses on developing youth institutions through youth programs and training courses, networking and coordination of the existing capacities.


The main goal of the Youth Development Department is to support and improve the capacities of local youth institutions in Jerusalem and clubs by providing them with the resources and contacts necessary to establish youth exchange and enrichment programs. This goal will be achieved through the following objectives:

  • By improving coordination and cooperation among local youth institutions and between local youth institutions and international NGOs.
  • By launching common projects between local and international youth organizations through youth exchange programs, voluntary work camps and trainings.
  • By training young leaders to establish and to manage new and sustainable youth centers and programs.
  • By providing expertise to existing youth centers and associations in planning programs, fundraising, and establishing new partnerships.
  • By activating a dynamic network for the exchange and diffusion of experiences and resources among various youth sectors in the field of culture, education, and social development.

Target group

Our projects are targeted at:

  • Palestinian Youth between the ages of 15 and 25.
  • Youth institutions and groups based in Jerusalem.

Action plan 2001

Stage one: assessment of Needs and Resources

The first step of the establishment of the YDD will be the launching of a survey and assessment of local youth institutions. This step will serve two purposes. Firstly, it will give us a clear picture about the existing local institutions. This will avoid overlap and any possible waste of resources in the future.

Secondly, the survey will familiarize the local youth institutions with the staff of YDD and with its resources and programs. In this way, partnerships with local institutions will be established at the earliest stages.
The assessment of their needs, capacities and resources will enable to develop a youth strategic plan, which will be distributed to all interested youth organizations.

Stage two: building capacity program

Once the needs, capacities, resources of the youth organizations are defined and the youth leaders identified, several workshops will be held to train them to design youth activities and to run youth institutions. Thus, the youth organizations will be able to fulfill their needs within themselves. (On their request and owing to the urgent needs of the Youth organizations, the implementation of these workshops will take place before the assessment of needs and resources).
The workshops will be implemented as followed:

  • Youth leadership training (April 2001):
    YDD goal from organizing this workshop is to train youth leaders to design, to run, and to lead youth activities and programs.
  • Institutional management training. (May 2001):
    This workshop will be directed to the management of the already existing youth organizations in Jerusalem in order to strengthen their managerial abilities in running institutions and youth centers.
  • Work camps' leaders training (June 2001):
    The youth leaders will be trained to run national and international work camps. Three international work camps will be held during the summer 2001 to initiate youngsters into voluntary activities and intercultural learning.

Stage three: forming a Youth Forum for youth leaders in Jerusalem (September 2001):

After the workshop, another forum will be held with youth leaders to nominate candidates in the General Assembly of Youth Leaders. It will be composed of activists of youth institutions, clubs, intellectuals and counselors. Such forum will discuss, propose and evaluate the departments different programs and activities.

Stage four: final evaluation and future planning (October November 2001):

From the strategies provided in the workshops, the general assembly will produce the final evaluation of the previous activities of the year and will define the future planning for the coming year (2002).


The Youth Development Department has already begun to implement its action plan through the organization of different activities:

We have already organized international and local work camps in Jerusalem and in France with our French partner, Solidarités Jeunesses. These work camps will enable Palestinian youth to discover the voluntary and intercultural activities.

  • International work camp in Jerusalem, in cooperation with the Old City Youth Association (June-July 2000).

Two young people sent to participate in an international work camp in cooperation with Solidarités Jeunesses in France (September 2000)

We participated in many international training courses and seminars in Palestine and in Europe for youngsters to get the tools and resources to run and to manage youth programs and activities.

  • Peace Tools Seminar in Bethlehem (October 2000).
  • Human Rights Education Forum in cooperation with the Council of Europe. (Budapest-Hungary, November 2000).
  • Long Term Voluntary Service seminar (Frankfurt-Germany, 26th-3rd March 2001).
  • Salto training course on Euro-Med (Paris-France, 24th March-1st April 2001).
  • Management and fundraising seminar in cooperation with the European Youth Center. (Strasbourg-France, 1st-7th April 2001).
We emphasize our efforts on local activities through training courses and meetings to better assess the Palestinian youth's needs and resources:
  • Italy for Palestine week (August 2000).
  • Meeting with Civil Service International (September 2000).
  • Meeting with Youth Action for Peace (October 2000).
  • Celebration of the International Day of Volunteers (IDV) in cooperation with the UNDP and the youth institutions in Jerusalem (5th December).
  • Meeting with Jerusalem's Youth Institutions (November 2000, February 2001).
  • First Aid Course for the Orient House employees (February 2001).
    Youth Leadership training Course (2nd April-12th April 2001).


The youth Development Department has established links of cooperation with INGOs and Governmental Organizations such as the Council of Europe, the European Commission, the UNESCO, Youth Action for Peace, the Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service, the ICYE, the Mediterranean Youth Forum, and the European Youth Forum.

Locally, the YDD has already established sound relationships with the Nidal Center, the International Palestinian Youth League, the Sports Clubs League, the Old City Youth Association, and around 15 other local institutions.


Our main resources of funds are based on local and international donors such as the UNDP, the Ford Foundation, through different projects being implemented by the department.

For More Information Contact:

Orient House
Youth Development Department
P.O. Box 20479


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