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New IOCC Project to Improve West Bank Schools

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  • Fr. John-Brian
    SCOBA The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas 8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021 INTERNATIONAL ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2004
      The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas
      8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021

      Tel: (410) 243-9820 - Fax: (410) 243-9824
      Web: www.iocc.org - E-mail: news@...

      For Immediate Release
      October 1, 2004


      Jerusalem (IOCC) - A new project by International Orthodox Christian
      Charities (IOCC) in the West Bank will expand educational opportunities for
      thousands of underprivileged Palestinian young people. The $3 million
      project, funded in part by the U.S. Agency for International Development
      (USAID), will result in the construction or renovation of school
      classrooms, bathrooms, libraries, labs, playgrounds and other youth
      facilities in 24 villages in the Ramallah region.

      IOCC, a humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians, is responding to
      the challenge of a growing student population (3.9 percent annual growth
      rate) combined with a widespread shortage of classroom space in the West
      Bank.  "Many rural areas do not have any schools or enough classrooms, and
      children are compelled to go to neighboring villages," said Nora Kort, head
      of IOCC-Jerusalem. "This presents great challenges and obstacles,
      especially for girls: Tradition does not allow them to travel outside their
      own villages in search of education."

      In addition to educational concerns, the IOCC-USAID project will address
      problems of unemployment in the West Bank. With unemployment at over 60
      percent, the project will create short-term, labor-intensive jobs in the
      construction trades, Ms. Kort said. "Unemployment affects two-thirds of
      the adult Palestinian population," she said, "because the people's freedom
      of movement is severely restricted by military closures and checkpoints."

      For 30 months, IOCC will employ more than 2,000 people to do the
      construction and renovation work. The result will be an improved
      educational infrastructure network serving more than 26,000 children ages
      5-19, Ms. Kort said. The new project builds on IOCC's success over the
      past two years in training women, creating jobs, renovating public
      buildings (including schools) and revitalizing agriculture in rural areas
      of the West Bank. IOCC implemented that project, also funded by USAID, by
      partnering with village leadership and organizing the participating
      villages into "clusters."

      Ms. Kort said IOCC will use the same system with the new initiative.
      Clusters of 13 villages near the town of Ni'lin and 11 villages near the
      town of Beit Liqya will be involved, potentially benefiting a population of
      more than 68,000 residents. "Children who live in rural areas of the West
      Bank are suffering from a lack of safe educational and recreational
      facilities," said IOCC Director of Operations Samir Ishak. "Their parents
      suffer from a lack of employment. This project addresses both concerns ?
      the short-term and the long-term." IOCC's partners in the project include
      USAID, local village councils, and the Palestinian Ministry of Education
      and Higher Education.

      IOCC has been active in the Middle East since 1997, when it began
      humanitarian programs in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Founded in 1992, IOCC is
      the official humanitarian agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical
      Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA). To learn more about IOCC's
      relief and development programs in the Holy Land and around the world,
      please visit www.iocc.org.


      For media inquiries, please contact IOCC Communications Associate Stephen
      Huba at 1-877-803-4622 or shuba@....
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