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Spring Newsletter 2019: Growing Possibilities, Broadening Our Reach

Wrapping up last year and embarking on this one, we started with full enthusiasm and anticipation, with  a new phase and strategic vision that aspires to increase and intensify the visibility of sexual and gender diversity in Palestine.

We began this year just as we envisioned and even surpassed our own expectations, as we expanded alQaws’  community outreach through various grassroots projects and initiatives, like our famous youth oriented comic series and the distribution of an educational flyer across 7 different university campuses, and through dedicating resources to strengthen alQaws’ activists’ capacities in projects like our “alKhat-Listening & Information Hotline” and our educational training team

We are happy to share with you our work over the last couple of months, and would love to hear your thoughts and feedback in response.

 

35 Training Hours of Educational Training

alQaws’ educational trainings haven't stopped since this year began! We’ve logged 35 training hours for a total of 50 trainees from different areas and fields. We held two training courses (a total of 7 sessions) in Jerusalem with teachers and social workers, in addition to a training designed for hotline volunteers at a feminist organization in Nazareth, and an additional training of more than 10 civil society organizations in partnership with Oxfam in Ramallah. Finally, and for the first time, we also organized a training at alQuds University in Abu Dis for students from various departments.

We are planning to continue expanding our educational trainings through the end of the year with the effort of our training team, which is now working intensively on developing and upgrading our training materials based on the experience we amassed in recent years. Our educational trainings focus on basic concepts in sexual and gender diversity, and are designed for organizations’ staff members, including professionals, therapists, educators and teachers, as well as youth and student groups.

For more information about the training, write to: training@alqaws.org

 

Celebrating 10 years of “AlKhat: Listening & Information Hotline.” New Website and Training Course

On the occasion of celebrating 10 years for one of alQaws’ oldest and most successful projects, “AlKhat: Listening & Information Hotline,” we launched a new updated online platform that is more accessible for both volunteers and callers.  AlKhat operates on Sundays and Wednesdays between 5-9 pm via phone number 0722220202 or via chat at alkhat.org.  

Additionally, AlKhat  just announced the opening of a training course for new volunteers who are interested in joining alKhat team. The training course is planned to start at the end of May 2019, and extends over 12 meetings. The course is open for those who identify as LGBTQ/queer and are over 23 years old who are interested in developing their listening and support skills in a professional peer-to-peer setting.

For inquiries and registration: Alkhat@alqaws.org

 

Tarwiha 2, Queer Youth Comics: Tackling Family Relationships

With a variety of new and colourful topics, feelings, and themes, alQaws launched season 2 of “Tarwiha” queer youth comics series, which focuses on our relationship as LGBTQ/queer youth and teenagers with our families. We released two episodes so far: the first deals with the relationship between our families and our (queer) friends, and the second focuses on how our families react to  our different gender expressions.

Both episodes received remarkable interactions on alQaws’ social media with reactions that mostly relate to teenagers’ daily lives.  Tarwiha continues with new episodes every two weeks until mid-summer.

To stay up-to-date with Tarwiha’s episodes, follow us on social media or on Tarwiha’s site: www.alqaws.org/tarwiha

 

Three Public Intellectual Meetings in Jerusalem and Ramallah

alQaws opened March events and activities in Ramallah with 2019’s first “Hawamesh” (Margins) event, an intellectual forum aiming to bring sexual and gender diversity issues from the margins to the center of social and political discourse. The meeting focused on the role of law in promoting and challenging work on sexual and gender diversity issues in Palestine, with a noticeable presence of activists and friends who are interested in this discussion.

In addition, we partnered with a Palestinian student group “Sayr w Sayrora” at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem on a panel discussing different forms of social violence and their intersections.

The third event was organized in partnership with “The Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest)” about the concept and practice of “Safe Spaces” in queer organizing in a colonial context.

The three meetings, despite addressing different topics, raised interesting discussions about our Palestinian realities and posed important questions related to local queer organizing. More than 35 people participated in each event.

 

alQaws Distributes Thousands of Flyers on University Campuses

On Tuesday morning, the 26th of March, dozens of activists from all around Palestine  distributed thousands of flyers in universities in Palestine, including at Al Najah, Birzeit and Al Quds - Abu Dis, in addition to distributing them to Palestinian students at the universities in Haifa, and others. The flyers included five short sentences that seek to challenge the sexual and gender binaries that dominate Palestinian society, and aimed to reach new audince and to open a social discussion both offline and online.

This step provoked the desired debate, as the reactions ranged between engaging with the flyer’s content and calls for dialogue, to violent speech. The discussion spread from university campuses over social media sites, reaching larger numbers.

This is not alQaws’ first or last grassroots initiative,  as we are developing our community and outreach initiatives during the coming three years.

 

Expanding alQaws’ Professional Staff

There is no doubt that the great expansion of work detailed above must be accompanied by an expansion of our energies and resources. In light of that, we are happy to announce on the hiring of two new community organizers to alQaws’ team to work both in the West Bank and Jerusalem area, as well as ’48 areas. Both community organizers will be in charge of  developing queer, dynamic, and active local and national activists cadres, enhancing the queer scene in different regions and cities,  and building different and new strategies for our grassroots work and outreach efforts.

The great progress of work is clear to us—and often to you too—, and as we celebrate this expansion we are emboldened to work even harder and pursue higher goals. We welcome you, as always, to be our partners. Join us, get to know us, or contact us through social media on Facebook and Instagram or email:  info@alqaws.org.

 

In solidarity,

alQaws Leadership