11/05/2021, 17.43
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Afaq entrepreneurship project for West Bank women and young Christians

The Latin Patriarchate is taking action to reduce emigration in the Christian community and better integrate it in Palestinian society in partnership with Bethlehem University and the Institute for Community Partnership (ICP). The project includes career guidance workshops.

Bethlehem (AsiaNews) – The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in partnership with Bethlehem University and the Institute for Community Partnership (ICP), has launched “Afaq”.

Presented at a Catholic school in Taybeh, the project is aimed at empowering Palestinian women and young Christians while politically, economically and culturally integrating the Christian community in Palestinian society and prevent the emigration of young people seeking a better future.

Titled “Christian Youth and Women Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, and Employment in Palestine”, the project is set to be implemented in 13 West Bank parishes, namely Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, Birzeit, Jifna, Aboud, Ramallah, Ein Arik, Taybeh, Rafidia, Zababdeh, Jenin and Jericho.

Smaller Christian communities in Burqin, Tubas, Kafr Qud, Jalameh and Deir Ghazaleh will also be among those to benefit from the initiative.

Catholic institutions, from Iraq to Syria, the Holy Land to the Gulf, as well as Lebanon are prioritising employment and business opportunities for local Christian communities or migrants to counter the exodus to Europe, United States and Australia.

The Patriarchate and Bethlehem University have laid out this goal, especially for women and young people. For the latter, migration has become an option not so easily available to their parents and grandparents.

For the project to succeed, the ICP, working with Catholic institutions, plans to conduct a survey among Christians in the West Bank and set up a website that will include everyone.

Workshops will be organised for career guidance and entrepreneurship, while grants and loans will be made available to support businesses and entrepreneurs.

Speaking about the project, Fr Bashar Fawadleh, parish priest in Taybeh and chaplain of the Youth of Jesus' Homeland-Palestine (YJHP), expressed hope that this would be the first of a series of meetings that could bear fruit for the community.

in his view, it is necessary to work “for the common good, in the heart of our society and our Church, the Church of Jerusalem, Jesus’ homeland.”

For Brother Peter Bray, vice chancellor of Bethlehem University, the university is “very aware and conscious of the challenges that many of our graduates face”. At the same time, “we are [also] very keen to be involved in preventing, or at least restricting the barriers to entrepreneurship and to employment”.

Sami El-Yousef, Chief Executive Officer of the Latin Patriarchate, notes that to help women and young people “start their own business,” the project relies on the partnership of various Christian institutions. “[B]y providing suitable qualifications opportunities,” people can “obtain jobs,” he explained.

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