The Children’s Land Laboratories

Here is the story of a lab to help bedouin women in Gaza to create educational toys for children: “Books are a portal to the outside world with its various cultures”.

Children in Gaza
The Children’s Land Laboratories are aimed at creating safe and environmentally friendly educational children toys by empowering women and young adults of a marginalized Bedouin community North of the Gaza Strip. How did it all start? And how it works?

Seeing the need of the women living in the marginalized Bedouin community we work in for a place to come together and socialize plus their desperate need to uplift the economical situation they live in, we were determined to find a solution that answers to that and serves in bringing us closer to our overall objective of empowering those women and consequently the youth and the whole of that community.

That vision was molded into a project concentrating on building a two floor women’s center in the Bedouin village with a first floor dedicated for social services and a ground floor housing the Children’s Land Laboratories and a showroom for its products. Run entirely by women, a tailoring lab and a carpentry lab work simultaneously to produce educational toys for children following approaches like Montessori and Waldrof.

What are you planning to do in order to scale up your experience abroad and strengthen your project with the help of foreign partners here in Europe? Is there anything that European social ventures willing to help The Children’s Land Laboratories may do in order to give your startup idea a better chance?

Scaling up our experience abroad is definitely one of our main objectives, however, it is a long-term one. For that to happen we believe that we should work on two points:

  • Exchanging of experience and capacity building with European social business/enterprises as they have been working for a longer than us. Therefore, their input and experience can benefit us majorly on how to manage a cooperative and grow our work.
  • Also, they can help us find a market interested in our products and create a link with possible investors abroad.
  • Since The Children’s Land Labs are part of a bigger social institute, a Women’s Center, working towards the empowerment of a marginalized community, partnering and working with European social ventures can up the value of our social side and attract more funds from those who in the cause our work represents.

When we met you wrote a tweet explaining that you work in order to “empower women to build a better future where no one has to experience near death to find life”. Even though we came back to freedom just 70 years ago, living in Western Europe often means taking freedom for granted. Why should we not think so?

Personally, I think taking anything for granted is one of the biggest sins humans are guilty of. That doesn’t mean we should be in a constant of despair waiting for the day when we will lose the things we have, no all I am saying is that we should be more grateful to what we have and be sensitive towards those who are less fortunate and better yet try to help them get access to the same ‘freedom’ we live.

In Turin you explained that your main interest is reading, since you see books as a portal to the outside world with its various cultures. I suppose that we have a very stereotyped idea of the Gaza strip. What is it really like living there? Is there any image that we should take into account to understand more about daily life in Gaza and their citizens?

A classical answer I give when asked or when hit with that stereotypical image the outside world has of Gaza and its people, is that here is a pretty normal place similar to any other. Life in Gaza can be exciting, boring, full of opportunities, satisfactory, beautiful, ugly, rich, poor and even peaceful but only when given the chance to be all that only when it’s not holding tight for its life when attacked. People here are also ordinary, they study, work, have families, dream big and try hard to take part of the world. They even get nominated for international prizes and they also win some of them. If I was to use only one word to describe Gaza and the people inside I would choose RESILIENCE. It is that special characteristic that makes me a little worried but always proud of those people who after living the darkest days of their lives can come out when the light finally comes back with a smile.

Foto: Stitching Kifaia – Gaza (Creative Commons).
Sara AlafifiSara Alafifi – “The most important freedom is the freedom to be all you’re destined to be” – Constance Chuks Friday. It has been almost two years since I am experiencing a glimpse of this freedom working as a Project Manager Assistant in a humanitarian NGO. I work in a project designed to empower women and young adults of a marginalized Bedouin community north of Gaza Strip, Palestine. My main interest is reading, for I see books as a portal to the outside world with its various cultures. I also take great interest in learning languages and I enjoy walking and taking care of indoor plants.

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