Isn't the YMCA just a nice sports facility?
While it's true that YMCAs are known for their sports facilities, the EJ-YMCA is much more than that. We are committed to making a difference in the lives of Palestinians who are being oppressed by a brutal military occupation. As part of this commitment, we work to build community among all sectors of Palestinian society and to provide opportunities for people to participate tangibly in working for peace with justice, independence, and basic human rights for all.
Where is the EJ-YMCA located?
The headquarters of the EJ-YMCA is on Nablus Rd. in East Jerusalem, just outside the Old City walls. Other centers are found in Ramallah, Beit Sahour, and Jericho. There are outreach offices in Hebron, Nablus, and Jenin.
What does the EJ-YMCA do for women?
Palestinian women face particular hardships given that they bear the brunt of the Israeli military occupation. Many women, as wives and mothers, have witnessed their husbands and sons wounded, killed, or imprisoned. They are often left alone with the responsibility of providing for their families and caring for their households. The EJ-YMCA has initiated a number of programs to support women who have little or no means to support themselves. Underlying all these programs is the belief that greater empowerment for women is founded on independence, dignity, and productivity. Our programs in Ramallah and Jericho are specifically designed for women.
In addition, the EJ-YMCA has begun the International Women's Group at its center in Beit Sahour. The Group brings together women of different nationalities (most of whom are married to Palestinians) living in the Bethlehem area. The Women's Group serves as a forum where women can share about their lives in solidarity with the Palestinian people and also where they can be mobilized to act in advocating with their respective embassies and consulates and other international bodies for the rights of Palestinians. A significant factor in the decision to establish the Group was the desire to assist international women in being integrated into Palestinian society, thereby encouraging them to remain in Palestine rather than choosing to emigrate. Though in its beginning stages, the Group aims to include two hundred women and will have its own self-defined structure and identity.
Does the EJ-YMCA have any programs for people with disabilities?
Since the first Intifada (uprising) in the late 1980's/early 1990s, the EJ-YMCA has been working to support the thousands of people injured and left permanently disabled by wounds inflicted by the Israeli military. The first comprehensive program for people with disabilities was founded at the EJ-YMCA's center in Beit Sahour. Based on our experience in Beit Sahour, a number of other programs now include components that focus on responding to the needs of people with disabilities.
How does the EJ-YMCA help youth to prepare for the future?
The EJ-YMCA's holistic vision for youth development is the framework within which our programs are designed and implemented. The Vocational Training Center in Jericho as well as numerous youth-oriented programs and activities at our other centers, aim to provide the practical skills and creativity that youth need in order to be active, responsible participants in building civil society in Palestine.
How does the EJ-YMCA practice its Christian values?
Any endeavor undertaken by the EJ-YMCA is always based on Challenge 21, which states, among other things, that: the YMCA, as a world-wide Christian, ecumenical, voluntary movement for women and men with special emphasis on and the genuine involvement of young people, seeks to share the Christian ideal of building a human community of justice with love, peace and reconciliation for the fullness of life for all creation.
In addition, the EJ-YMCA plays an active role within the church-related organization network in the Holy Land and hosts a number of Christian events that bring together local and foreign individuals and groups for prayer, theological discussion, and reflection.
How does the EJ-YMCA function under military occupation?
While our programs and activities have never stopped functioning, numerous difficulties are experienced on a daily basis. As part of "routine" Israeli occupation policy, movement restrictions, harassment, destruction of YMCA property, and even random arrests and detention of YMCA staff (without charge or trial) present significant obstacles to the implementation of our programs and activities. At present, the EJ-YMCA has embarked on the Free Palestine Campaign, a national and international campaign designed to provide reliable and accurate information about the history and present reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to mobilize local and international organizations to work in solidarity with us to promote justice and peace and to bring about an end to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.
Despite the humiliating and frustrating conditions of life under occupation, the EJ-YMCA is committed to maintaining its role as a major contributor to the alleviation of Palestinian suffering and to working untiringly for peace with justice.
Can I be a volunteer at the EJ-YMCA?
Our work DEPENDS on the generosity and expertise of volunteers - local and foreign - who share the vision and ideals of the EJ-YMCA staff. For more information on becoming a volunteer, contact: