I recently came across the work of Tomorrow’s Youth Organization (TYO). Its aims are to enable children, youth, and parents in disadvantaged areas of the Middle East to realize their potential as healthy, active and responsible family and community members. One initiative that particularly caught my eye is TYO’s ‘Core Child Program‘, part of their Early Childhood Education programmes. Through a case study video of ‘Islam’, a young boy from Nablus, Palestine, who lives in the Askar Refugee Camp on the edge of Nablus, we see how children aged four to eight are supported on a path to self-discovery through play and non-formal education.
The video is particularly significant because it shows, with testimony from Islam’s father, his teacher and Islam himself, how even a small intervention can have such marked an impact on childrens’ lives. Prior to TYO’s intervention, Islam was punished by his father for a range of behavioural issues. Indeed, at one point in the video, his father says, “I see Islam and he is not normal”. However, as a result of positive behavioural reinforcement strategies and activities, we later hear from Islam himself, about how TYO “feels like home”, and his dreams of becoming a pilot when he grows up. It is heartening to see the positive outcomes of programmes such as TYO’s, in which children participate in an array of innovative, non-formal educational activities that counter the social effects of the overcrowded refugee camps and other disadvantaged communities which stifle creativity and imagination.
The ‘Core Child Program’ is an example of but one TYO initiative, however. The Organisation has other programmes in the areas of women’s social and economic empowerment, youth development and also offer international internship opportunities, among others. Do stop by and explore their work if you can.
Saneeya Qureshi © 2015