This second cohort of ICAN fellows was the first group to pursue their MSW. Their mission was to implement rights-based community practice (RBCP) with the aim of establishing centers in Palestine and Jordan, and to extend the work of the Israeli centers. The Jordanian contingent was also charged with continuing efforts to build the graduate Social Work Program at the University of Jordan.
The Fellows successfully completed these assignments. The Sweileh Community Development Center was built in Jordan; the Al-Quds Community Action Center was launched in the Old City of Jerusalem; and the An-Najah Community Service Center was established in Nablus. All three centres began to offer services to the residents of their communities, giving important community-based visibility to our academic partners in the region, and serving to strengthen our partners’ respective departments of social work, where many ICAN alumni continue to work.
Ghada Abu Jaber completed her service at Community Advocacy and then returned to work for ICAN partner SHATIL. She is now director of the Association of Women Against Violence (WAV), which was established in 1992 by a group of Palestinian women professionals and social activists in Israel who were concerned with the increasing number of women and girls in the Palestinian community needing assistance and protection as victims of gender-based violence. The organization established the first battered women’s shelters in the Arab community in Israel.
As a Fellow, Abdul Kareem Al Fayez conducted research regarding potential neighborhoods within which to locate the CDC. Since then, he returned to the University of Jordan’s Social Work program, where he recently completed a term as its director.
Following the MSW fellowship program, Wa’el Al Azari was to become the Storefront Coordinator at the CDC. Unfortunately, Mr. Al Azari developed health problems that required him to take on a reduced load. He returned to ICAN partner the University of Jordan, where he continues to teach today.
Sami Kilani is the founding Director of the An Najah Community Service Center. In addition to contributing to all the necessary programmatic work to establish the center, Sami forged a relationship between the center and the university, whereby the center is responsible for the volunteer work of thousands of An Najah students annually. Sami has also served as director of all the scientific centres at An Najah. In his spare time, Sami remains a well known peace activist and poet, and has recently published another book of poetry. After returning to McGill to complete a PhD in Social Work, Sami is now back in Nablus, serving as the Dean of Education of an-Najah National University and the Director of CSC.
Salah Al Louzi was the founding director of the Sweileh Community Development Center (CDC) in Amman. He got the center off the ground and served as its director until Talal Qdah (3rd cohort of ICAN fellows) succeeded him. Mr. Al Luozi returned to the University and has recently been named director of the Social Work Program.
An architect, Marei Kherie established a unique housing program at the center which renovates the worst houses at a very low cost, with the participation of the residents and volunteers. This program has become a model for the Jordanian and Al Quds centers. Khairi remains connected to the An-Najah CSC, and currently teaches architecture at An Najah National University.
Najwa Silwadi returned to Al Quds to lead the research and outreach efforts regarding potential sites for the center. Together with co-fellow Ziad Faraj, the two secured a location and developed initial services at what is now the Al Quds Community Action Centre. Najwa was named the founding director, and remains a driving force of the center.
Having obtained a Masters degree in Architecture as a McGill fellow, Musa Tarawneh worked alongside Salah and Abdul Kareem, conducting research regarding the housing situation in various Amman neighborhoods, as part of the overall groundwork for the establishment of the CDC. He later returned to the University of Jordan to pursue a PhD in architecture.
Ziad Faraj worked together with Najwa on establishing the Al Quds Community Action Centre, as noted above. He has held a variety of positions in the Palestinian civil society sector, including with USAID and UNRWA in the West Bank. He founded the Palestinian Union of Social Workers and Psychologists in Bethlehem.
Yoav Weinberg, an architect, developed housing programs at Community Advocacy, later becoming chair of BIMKOM: Planners for Planning Rights, an organization of architects and planners working to help disadvantaged communities, such as unrecognized Bedouin villages.