Tag Archives: Middle East

Ibdaa Cultural Center, Palestine

16 Nov

Ibdaa… to create something from nothing…


This grassroots organization is providing social, educational, and cultural programs for the children, youth and women of Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank.  Since being founded in 1994, Ibdaa currently serves over 1,500 children, youth and women each year and provides income to 70 families in the Dheisheh camp through employment and income generation projects.

Ibdaa Kindergarten

The mission of the Ibdaa Cultural Center is to create a positive atmosphere for children and youth in the refugee camp to assist them in developing competence, creativity and leadership skills through a range of social, cultural and educational activities.  Ibdaa strives to empower the children, youth and women in Dheisheh camp, instilling in them confidence and strength while also educating the international community about Palestinian refugees.

The Dheisheh camp is home to more than 12, 000 refugees, half of whom are children, living on less than 1 square kilometer of land.  It was established in 1948 after Al-Nakba, ‘the catastrophe’ or the founding of the state of Israel.  It is one of 59 such camps that Palestinian refugees live in after being forced to leave their homes.  More than 7 million Palestinian refugees remain displaced around the world today.  My father is one of them.

My father, Sobhi Salhia, at the former gate of the Dheisheh refugee camp.

The ONLY children’s library in the refugee camp where thousands of children live.   Ibdaa also offers computer classes and internet access.

Through art, dance, music, media, education, and sports, Ibdaa helps children and teenagers to share their experiences and dreams for the future with each other and with people around the world. Every activity at Ibdaa incorporates the values of democratic process and respect for human rights, providing a secular, humanist, and coeducational experience for Dheisheh’s children, youth, and women.

Ibdaa Women’s Commitee runs the tatriz collective that provides skills training and economic opportunuites.

Ibdaa Health Committee provides free eye glasses, and runs a diabetes and mental health clinic.


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The refugee camp is crowded, a maze of unplanned streets with no green space… no space for children to play.  Ibdaa is creating a play park on the ground floor of its school.  My father and I were happy to contribute to this project… if you would like to help contact info@ibdaa194.org

Video coming soon with a tour of the camp and cultural centre… stay tuned!

You can check out a documentary The Children Of Idbaa: To Create Something Out of Nothing about the lives of several adolescents in a Palestinian children’s dance troupe from Dheisheh refugee camp in the West Bank.

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