Learning for the Empowerment and Advancement of Palestinians
LEAP is a grassroots organization that works with Palestinian and Syrian refugee youth in the refugee camps of Lebanon, currently focusing on Burj el Shemale and Rashidheh Camp. I had the opportunity to work with Project SHINE-a summer intensive program that aims to provide students with a safe and healthy place to strengthen their English proficiency while developing a variety of supplementary skills to strengthen mental, physical, and social growth. LEAP exposed me to an honest understanding about the plight of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and has pushed me to become a dynamic advocate for Palestinian people.
Project SHINE is a 5-week intensive summer program and partners with local NGO Beit Atfal Assmoud (بيت اطفال الصمود) to facilitate the program. Volunteers adopt the curriculum to students' needs and I taught sessions to beginner youth aged 8-16 on the power of story telling, self-expression, unity and cooperation, and the environment. Students completed projects to broaden creativity and critical thinking skills by using unique learning tools such as Queen Rania's "The Sandwich Swap" and UNICEF's world renowned book "Children Just like Me".
Alongside working in the Camp each day, we live in a predominately Palestinian area called Burj el Shemale, 5 minutes outside the city of Tyre, Lebanon. This helped me gain a better understand and see for myself the struggle Palestinians face every single day. In a wide range of site visits, we talked with community members, UNRWA Staff, NGO workers, and even 1948 Nakba survivors to listen to their testimonies. Upon returning to the U.S., I've given talks at churches in New York, supported online campaigns for educational programs in the Camps, and engaged in conversation with people about the realities of being stateless and ways to support Palestinians.