We need you
to be involved and make a difference!
We welcome and value the contribution of volunteers to many aspects of our work.
If you are interested in volunteering at Keffiyeh Center, contact us and let us know why you are interested, what are your skills and your proposals.
Tell us your ideas for working together!
International and local volunteers are always
What we offer:
1. Help to find an accommodation suitable for you
2. The amazing opportunity to travel around and discover Palestine with us
3. A friendly environment!
We also receive and send volunteers through the EVS programme
(European Voluntary Service)
Debriefing and histories from abroad
Anna (Italy): Keffiyeh Center makes a difference in New Askar
“New Askar is not officially recognised as a camp, and there are thus no UNRWA installations. In response to this lack, men and women from New Askar have worked to fill the gaps and to create a better environment. This is how Keffiyeh Center was born. The center is the possibility for children and youth of both genders to have a childhood. Thanks to Keffiyeh, they have the opportunity to be involved in several activities, which become important tools of education. Keffiyeh is the hope. It is a smile, creativity, talent, the possibility of a better future. It is happiness. It is the place where girls and boys can learn, grow up and have fun together. Its young founders have done something extraordinary for the community of New Askar. The ability and the skills to set up an association with passion and to ensure its success. An association that is able to inspire his local volunteers with his commitment and motivate them to promote the benefit of an entire community. An association born to create opportunities and enhance development in a refugee camp”
Alice (Belgium): It was really enriching
“I found the association through a palestinian friend who studies in Belgium. When I arrived, they received me very well, I felt at home. They waited me at Ramallah, drove me to Askar camp, I was highly integrated in the family and the culture. I don’t regret to stay with them because it was very interesting for the warmhearted relationships and the culture’s learning. I ate palestinian food, we exchanged about our countries and I learned some arabic words. During my trip, I saw Hebron, Jericho, Bethléem, Qalkilya and Sebastia with the association’s group. Thanks to this guys, I visited New Askar camp and get wind of the history of this one. I met others volunteers from all Europe and we worked on the website and with children of the camp. I recommend everybody to discover New Askar Camp and Palestine with Keffiyeh Center“
Aline (France): My new family in New Askar Camp
“I stayed 3 months in Nablus, Palestine, but as soon as I met Keffiyeh Center I started to spend most of my time there. Volunteers from Keffiyeh are the most welcoming. They made me feel like I was part of their association from the first day. It was a great opportunity to exchange about our different ideas and for me to get to know better what it is like to live in Palestine. Aside from my volunteering work in the association, the volunteers created opportunities to discover Palestine (Dead Sea, Jericho, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jenin…) and Palestinian culture and food. In Keffiyeh, I was involved on everyday administrative tasks and I could implement other activities with Palestinian and international volunteers. Every week, I taught English and they also gave me the chance to learn Arabic. One of the greatest moments was the first Summer Camp for Women that we organized with girls volunteering in Keffiyeh. It was a big success and we all shared very happy moments. This was an amazing experience I would recommend to everyone.”
Caterina (Italy):Everybody should know you and build something with you
“Keffiyeh center is a true example that if we keep on being together, things in our life can get better and this is not a dream: it’s daily life. It’s an astonishing reality where you can see teenagers that benefited of voluntary work by older people and that now want to give back to younger boys and girls what they received. Keffiyeh center works in the logic of Give and Receive despite a context in the Occupation’s logic. In 3 months I spent living between the association and a family from the camp, daily life was for me to give french, italian and english classes and to receive arabic classes. Daily life in Keffiyeh was to teach hip-hop and learn how to dance dabkah. Daily life was to plan a women summer camp and to learn from them lots of practical and artistic activities… And a lot more of all this. I thank all Keffiyeh and New Askar people for what they taught me: standing together makes you stronger and gives more hope!”
As part of an internship integrated to my formation, I spent two weeks within the Keffiyeh Center, social and cultural center of the New Askar Refugee Camp.
The New Askar Refugee Camp is one of the numerous camps accommodating Palestinian people since the Nakba. These refugee camps were established after 1948, in order to lodge Palestinians forced to leave their homeland after Israel’s creation. The News Askar Camp was built in 1964 in the east of Nablus, and the population density is striking: 7.000 inhabitants in 1 km². Indeed, one of the problems of these camps is that the population continues to extend whereas the camp itself can’t increase. All these inhabitants come from the former Palestinian territories which are now occupied by the settlers, such as the town of Haifa, Jaffa… Tents, in which the first refugees initially housed, thinking that they will quickly come back to their house, incrementally became permanent structures. These houses are simple, deprived of soundproofing, and the problems of water and electricity are common. None of the security measures known in France are transposed here.
In addition, the camp of Askar doesn’t have the statute of refugee camp, which creates several issues, concerning the return of the inhabitants in their home at the end of the occupation, but also about the lack of assistance from Palestinian authorities. On the second hand, its inhabitants lose their civil rights in particular for elections within the municipality of Nablus. Then, the UNRAWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), program of UN intended to provide help to Palestinian refugees located in the Gaza strip, in the West Bank, in Jordan, in Lebanon and in Syria, doesn’t recognize New Askar. The public services, normally provided by UN, are consequently extremely restrained. No garbage service could be set up. Consequently, in the streets, the ground is strewn with waste, and is used as a playing ground by the children who seem satisfied of it. For my part, I was initially very surprised to see the kids outside all day long in this somewhat inadequate environment. Progressively, I discovered that the events crossed by these people welded them. The links between the persons are authentic and particularly solid: inhabitants of Askar live almost as a large family, in which I felt integrated. In this way, parents keep an eye on everyone’s kids. The children have grown in this environment, thus they are themselves able to take care of each other. The education is not the same one as in France, and in two weeks I never saw a child complaining about his life or conditions. While I was walking in the camp, all these joyous children came to me spontaneously to ask me questions and even to offer me ice creams or drinks. Moreover, I quickly realized that even if the ground they’re playing is dangerous for young children, they don’t have another choice: there is no space, no appropriate playground for children, or dedicated facility. In my opinion, this is where the importance of Keffiyeh Center within Askar lies. Keffiyeh is the center and the heart of the camp. It allows to offer these people a ground, a haven of peace, where they can spend time together, discover new activities, practice a sport, or even discuss while having a drink or eating a slice of knafeh. The volunteers of Keffiyeh fight to give energy to the camp while targeting various categories of population either by organizing a week of activities for children, a few days for women, or even entertainment for older people. Thus they provide life and dynamism, despite difficult living conditions. I especially admire the people of my age, who undertake so many thinks to help each other.
On a second time, because there isn’t any line of bus, teenagers have to leave the camp and take a service of taxi to go to the university. Arrived in Nablus, they face social discrimination from the inhabitants of Nablus city. The way to Nablus is long, difficult and expensive, which discourages potential students. Furthermore, even for the graduate people, it is very difficult to get a job related to their diploma. Many of them are competent and have degrees, but don’t have the possibility to exercise their diplomas. They take advantage of their skills and goodwill within the center, in order to fight against their precarious conditions. During the English lessons I gave within Keffiyeh, I was astonished by the motivation of these young people who put all their efforts in what they undertake.
Living as refugees in their own country, Palestinians dream of only one thing: regain their lost homeland. Many people have retained their property title or old keys house, located in their homeland, as to preserve a material proof of their hope of return. I had the chance, within Keffiyeh, to have several discussions with people of my age. They dream to recover the ground of their ancestors, aspire to be free and to have plans for the future. They are sometimes stunned when they hear that in France we don’t have checkpoints, we don’t have to show identity papers every time we move or to justify each displacement, simply because we were born somewhere else.
Despite everything, all these people constantly convey us a feeling of happiness, as if they wanted to live each moment thoroughly. They welcomed me and made me feel at home, so that I had the impression of being more in my place in Palestine than in my own country. My travel in Palestine allowed me to find a second family, friends, and even a second country. These two weeks of intense emotion were highly rewarding. To be able to discuss with interlocutors from all backgrounds and to listen to their story has changed my view of things and allowed me to relativize superficial concerns we often have in France. To see them enjoying every moment fulfilled me. Although I came initially to be a volunteer and to discover by myself a complex situation, it turns out that I received infinitely more than I have been able to give. I discovered extraordinary people who made me live incredible moments by integrating me into their ways of life. I was fascinated by their joy of life, their dances, their songs, their laughter…
Thus I want to thank all the members of Keffiyeh and the inhabitants of Askar for giving me the opportunity to live this fantastic experience. I will remind my stay in Palestine especially through all the people I met along the way, and I thank each of them to have been able to offer me everything I lived there, and to have formed my second family.
Contact our international volunteers