An Najah Community Service Center (CSC)

 

 

The An Najah CSC, founded in 1999, grew out of the desire to adopt the rights-based community practice model, developing a true human rights advocacy organization in Nablus

Improving housing and quality of life for Palestinians in the West Bank, while protecting children and the elderly.

With a centre in downtown Nablus and satellite centres in 8 West Bank villages, the An Najah CSC continues to grow its flagship programs. Housing rehabilitation, which sees social workers, architects and community volunteers renovate homes, while introducing other programs to benefit the families, such as literacy courses, psycho-social support and tutoring, and completed more than 700 homes. Also, the volunteer after-school program that focuses on children at risk of dropping out now helps 1000 children every semester. On the social policy level, the CSC has been part of a broad effort to pass a new juvenile justice law that protects children from being treated as adults. Further, social work programs in hospitals, pioneered by CSC, are now active in four Nablus hospitals, ensuring highly improved patient care. CSC remains the only support network for seniors living alone in Nablus.

About the CSC:

From the time it opened its doors in 1999, the CSC has sought to ensure community participation, broken down into three levels:  First, organizers had community members as active decision makers. Second, programs were to be driven by volunteers, and third, that beneficiaries must be directly involved in solving their own problems.

Early goals included raising awareness on issues of human and social rights as well as those with special needs; studying community needs and the ability of available services to meet those needs; and development of programs and activities to increase participation of all groups in community life, with the aim of creating a healthy civil society in an changing climate.

Starting out with five programs, CSC has grown to offer 24, reaching thousands in the Nablus community each year and advancing rights across the Nablus Governorate.

The programs are offered by the following units:

  • Supportive Education
  • Open-Door
  • Integrating the Disabled
  • The Good Will Forum
  • Housing Support
  • Volunteer and Community Service
  • Support for the Elderly
  • Psychosocial Support

The CSC works to empower the weakest members of Nablus society through the promotion of rights awareness and action, furnishing citizens with the tools and encouragement necessary to become self-reliant, and to advocate for their own rights and those of the community at large.

The CSC works alongside the community to help them meet their basic needs and to develop solutions to their social and economic problems. The CSC has continued to provide services through difficult times, when closures and violence heightened existing social problems. The CSC, out of necessity, has offered direct assistance to those in dire need, beyond its rights advocacy work. This direct assistance has been provided in coordination with the Palestinian Social Affairs, Education, Housing and other Ministries, providing models for government service delivery implementation as funds become available. 

smkilani [at] hotmail.com (Dr. Sami Kilani)

Founder, An Najah Community Service and Continuing Education Centre (CSC), Nablus, Palestine

Sami Zaidalkilani is an assistant professor at An-Najah National University (ANU), Nablus, Palestine. He is a visiting professor at McGill University in the School of Social Work and an advisory committee member of its International Community Action Network (ICAN). He has a B.Sc. in Physics, an M.A in Science Education, an MSW and a Ph.D. in Social Work. His doctoral thesis at McGill’s School of Social work explored the adoption an implementation of Human Rights-Based Community Practice in Palestine. He teaches Education and Social work as well as supervises ANU’s Community Service Center which he founded and directed for many years. He also acted as chairholder of ANU’s UNESCO Chair on Democracy and Human Rights, director of Continuing Education Center and Dean of the Faculty of Educational Sciences. He is a consultant in Development Strategic Planning of Palestinian cities and governorates as well as trainer in community development and civic education. His research interests are in social Human Rights-Based Approaches to work community practice and education.

Besides his academic work, Sami is a poet, short story writer, children stories writer, and translator with eight published works in these fields. He is a human rights activist, nonviolence advocate, peace and dialogue activist, who had served 5 years in Israeli jails for political activities during which he was adopted by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience. 

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