The social and economic conditions in the Palestinian Occupies Territories ( Gaza and the West Bank including Jerusalem ) have deteriorated dramatically since the start of the second Intifada over the past three years. Israeli incursions, curfews, severe travel restrictions, mass arrests, collective punishment, house demolitions and asphyxiating economic policies have led to unprecedented levels of poverty and unemployment. The percentage of Palestinians currently living at or below the poverty line now exceeds 70%. The levels of unemployment exceed 50% in many of the rural areas and urban centers.
The East Jerusalem YMCA (EJ-YMCA) has worked extensively on alleviating the various Occupation effects on our Palestinian society. Different programs were set to address the economical and social conditions Palestinian youth are facing. Laying down the foundation of an all-inclusive EJ-YMCA Sports and Recreational Center with various facilities and programs will be of great help in diminishing the impact of the destructive situation especially on youth from one side. At the same time, building up a new strategy of working with youth and family in one place equipped with different needed sports, educational, entertainment and cultural facilities and programs.
The Goal of the proposed Center is to enhance the life conditions of at least 25,000 Palestinian youth and families through the creation of a multipurpose center that provides vital recreational, educational, social, cultural, and training services.
The Proposed Center consists of a public Park, an outside activities area, a sports facility, a women and child Center , a recreational and out reach program center, and a permanent youth training Center. The total estimated cost of constructing the Center is $5,637,000 USD. The construction work in the Center started in August 2003 and will be totally completed and operating in January 2006. The construction of the Center in Ramallah City will create more than 68,000 working days for unemployed workers from the middle area of the West Bank . Moreover, operating the Center after completing the construction will create 30 permanent employment opportunities, in addition to another 30 part time employment opportunities.
The Construction of the Center is divided into three main phases. Constructing the first phase has already started in August 2003 through the support of the USAID and the YMCA of the USA . The EJ-YMCVA will cover the remaining cost of the first phase from its own resources and local community contributions. The EJ-YMCA is still collecting donations for covering the cost of constructing the reaming two phases.
The EJ-YMCA Extension Service Unit (Youth Opportunities Program) will be managing the construction of the Center including follow-up, financial management, reporting, and evaluation.