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Our 2015 accomplishments and successes provide a strong base for our future work.

alQaws' Significant Accomplishments in 2015

alQaws community is proud to share with you our main highlights and accomplishments from 2015. We are excited to close a very dynamic and fulfilling year, with success in sustaining and developing existing projects, developing strategies for important new initiatives, reaching out and engaging new target groups, and expanding our amazing communities and leadership across Palestine. As 2015 comes to an end, we look forward to welcoming 2016 with a new exciting 3-year strategic plan, which will help alQaws sustain its work and expand our impact. Our 2015 accomplishments and successes provide a strong base for our future work.

Here are some of our 2015 highlights:  

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Educational Training: Over 130 Hours of Training, Entering Highs Schools 
During 2015, alQaws’ educational training team provided over 130 training hours to eight different civil society organizations (CSOs)  and professional institutions working with youth and marginalized groups from Gallilee, Nazareth, Yaffa, Lod, and East Jerusalem. alQaws’ educational team overcame yet another obstacle for the first time entering the school system and directly working with school’s pedagogy team and principles. In 2015, we  offered the first training to high school teachers in Haifa (30 hours training), and high school students in Nazareth. In total, alQaws’ educational trainings directly reached over 120 participants, and indirectly reached thousands of people at different organizations, communities, institutions, and schools.

The past year’s achievement continues our 2014 work, which reached more than 20 different CSOs and included the first West Bank collective training attended by more than 12 participants from 9 (of the 20) organizations in Bethlehem, Nablus, Hebron, Ramallah, and Jerusalem . During 2016, we plan to focus on our West Bank and East Jerusalem second training course, our second high school teachers training in a Galilee high school, as well as continued outreach to CSOs across Palestine.

AlKhat’s Fifth Year: Stronger Professional Team, Increasing Community Access 
We are excited to close alKhat- Information and Listening Hotline’s fifth year, with a stronger professional team of 15 volunteers, who worked every Sunday and Wednesday for a total of 105 shifts . Alkhat’s team listened and supported more than 230 individuals via the telephone hotline and online chat platform, a 30% growth from 2014, and a 300% growth from its first and second year (2010-2011). During 2015, alKhat reached new groups, particularly women, transpersons, and youth. We also organized the fifth annual volunteer training  course between June and September, which took place in Haifa (the 2014 training took place in Jerusalem). To strengthen and support our amazing volunteer team, alQaws’ professional staff provided daily assistance and ongoing supervision (personal and group based),  in order to ensure volunteers had the tools and resources to best fulfill their roles.

 

The volunteer team includes people of different professions and experiences whoare united both in purpose and in the willingness to listen to people in need. AlKhat offers a platform for community members to reach out for assistance, support, or information on sexuality, LGBTQ issues, gender identity, and more. AlKhat also connects callers with relevant professionals, and follows up and mediates between the callers and relevant service providers when needed. AlKhat also aims to serve as a resource for friends, family, coworkers, or others with questions about issues of gender and sexuality.

We assure privacy for alKhat users. Callers/chatters may remain completely anonymous, revealing only those details they choose to disclose during the session. AlKhat volunteers are obligated to maintain the confidentiality of each alKhat chat or call, refraining from sharing any information outside the platform. AlKhat operates twice weekly, on Sundays and Wednesdays between 17:00 and 21:00; it can be accessed via phone at 0722220202, or chat at www.alKhat.org.

TranFocus: Answering New Needs 
One of the important achievements of 2015 was the opening of “transFocus,” a new project developed by the “Alkhat” team to answer the needs raised by trans individuals who approached our hotline for the first time. This project aims to accompany trans individuals (who reach us through the hotline or otherwise) who need individual support and counseling, information on gender transition processes, or actual accompaniment to appointments at medical and psychiatric institutions.

Over the last two years, alQaws has accompanied 14 transgender individuals from across Palestine, and developed a volunteer team to accompany individuals to medical institutions and provide counseling and information. In 2016, we plan to make this new service more accessible by expanding our volunteer team and publishing Arabic materials about gender identity and transconcerns.

Therapists’ Advocacy Group Closes Second Year 
Another important achievement to highlight is the success of the second year of our advocacy group of therapists and professionals. The group’s work combines two parallel processes: the first is a peer-to-peer learning process that translates knowledge into practice and allows participants to explore and contemplate the process between therapists and beneficiaries around everything related to sexuality and sexual and gender identity; the second is advocacy actions, including publishing articles and organizing public events, organized by the group and aiming to produce, develop, and distribute knowledge on these topics among other therapists. The group is jointly run by a professional supervisor and alQaws activists.  



It is especially important to highlight the success of the first advocacy action, which took place in Nazareth last March (2015). The group organized the first Study Day, “Sexual Lens in Therapy,” for Palestinian therapists and psychologists, which was attended by more than 70 participants from 15 different institutions. The group’s third year, reaching new participants, is planned to start on January 30, 2015.

Based on our experience with the therapists’ advocacy group, alQaws developed a new strategy: “Professional Advocacy Groups.” This new strategy will allow alQaws to develop and expand our work with influential professional groups, such as doctors, lawyers, journalists, and more in different professional areas and according to needs expressed in the field. This new strategy is part of alQaws’s 3-year strategic plan for 2016-2018.
 
alQaws in the West Bank 
In 2015, we also began our institutionalized and public West Bank community organizing effort, which is led by the new community organizer Tamer Khalfo. Started in September 2015,the project builds on our decade of experience working with local West Bank communities and aims to: 1) institutionalize alQaws’ work in the West Bank; 2) develop a variety of community and support programs that address the needs of activists and LGBT individuals; and 3) develop the West Bank networking and training project.

The first three months of the project (Sep.-Dec. 2015) focused on leading a community needs assessment that aims to determine West Bank LGBTs’ needs and priorities, to introduce alQaws, and to build trust with old and new LGBTs and allies. We were able to reach out to more than 80 individuals from Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus, Jenin, Hebron, and nearby villages; and thus also expanded our reach and impact outside Ramallah. We are excited to translate our community’s needs into sustainable, relevant, and inspiring initiatives that we willlaunch in 2016.

alQaws Youth Groups in Haifa and Yaffa 
alQaws’ Youth Groups, entitled “My Sexuality and Society: Knowledge and Impact,” offer a unique opportunity and safe space to discuss, in-depth, various sexual and gender diversity issues and their relation to participants’ daily lives, as well as a platform to share the challenges participants face. Moreover, this space facilitates exploration of abilities and capacities for change within the group and amongst the individuals. These groups involve LGBTQ youth who are interested in exploring these issues in a group setting, and with the support that entails, and who are looking to understand their sexual and gender experience in holistic and locally relevant ways.

In 2015, alQaws organized 2 long-term Youth Groups with over 20 participants (in previous years we were able to organize one group only). The first group took place in Haifa and aimed to attract participants from the Northern ‘48 area. The second group started during October 2015 in Yaffa, aiming to reach out to participants from the center areas/cities like Lod/Ramleh, the Triangle area, and Yaffa. In 2016, we plan to organize three groups in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and a third group in the North of Palestine (Haifa\Nazareth).

Hawamesh: Vibrant Monthly Public Discussion Forum 
Hawamesh is our exciting open bi-monthly intellectual space developed by alQaws in 2014 to bring sexual and gender diversity discourse more directly to the public. This program was added to further our educational initiatives in a more regularized and institutionalized fashion out of our Haifa office and in Haifa’s public spaces (Hawamish is held in a popular café). The aim is to bring awareness to the existence of alQaws, and to encouragenew audiences coming from northern Palestine to attend cultural and intellectual events in Haifa. Hawamesh aims to reframe topics that were traditionally considered internal discussions exclusive to the LGBT community into a broader, more connected, and more relevant social and political context.

In 2015, the following meetings took place:

  • On February 3rd, 2015, alQaws hosted the year’s first Hawamesh meeting in our Haifa offices. It was titled: “Do Local Anti-Pinkwashing Discourses Perpetuate Structures of ‘Homophobia’ by Presenting a Misleading Facade of Queer Realities in Palestine?” The event followed up on recent community conversations raising serious questions about the potential impact and unintended consequences of efforts and strategies to expose Israel’s use of gay rights to mask systematic disregard and violation of Palestinians’ human rights.
     
  • On March 25th, 2015, and in partnership with alMahata (Palestinian Youth Cooperative), alQaws hosted a second meeting of Hawamesh titled: "The Development of Homosexual Image in Palestinian Society."  The first lecture focused on the link between how homosexuality is perceived in Palestinian society and collaboration with the Israeli intelligence forces during the first Intifada. The second lecture focused on recent historical events in Palestine and their impact on the homosexual image, starting from Oslo accords, Second Intifada, etc. Both lectures are presented as articles in the new Jadal (quarterly intellectual journal) issue “Sexual Politics in the Colonial Context of Palestine,” published in partnership with Mada alCarmel. See the section below.
     
  • On June 10th, we held a Hawamesh event titled, “Haifa, the Palestinian Gay Heaven?,” which critically discussed the growing role Haifa is playing as a “modern city” for Palestinians, including gays, young women, and youth. In two short lectures, we raised questions about whether this perception of Haifa matches reality, and who has the privilege to be openly gay or sexually “free” in a city that is still controlled by Palestinian traditionalism and norms.
     
  • During September 30th, we held 2015’s 4th Hawamesh meeting, focused on the latest attack on LGBTs and homosexuality in Palestine that took place last June (an Islamic movement leader’s statement against gay marriage, attacks on LGBT rights supporters, the rainbow drawing on the Apartheid Wall, and more), and the unprecedented public discussion among civil society organizations, political parties, social movements, alongside the heated debates on social media. (Read here the support statement signed by 15 civil society organizations that was initiated by alQaws and allies. Arabic only). This meeting, titled “The Attack on LGBTs in Palestine: A Crises in Discourse, Or a Culture of Exclusion,” hosted 4 speakers from Baladna: Youth Arab Association (Haifa), Women Against Violence (Nazareth), and from two leading political parties in ‘48, “Jabha :The Communist Party” and “Balad: The Democratic National Party.” This was the first time ever that Palestinian political activists and parties participated in a public discussion about these issues. To read the summary article in Arabic
     
  • The last Hawamesh for 2015 took place on December 9th in Almahat and in partnership with Mada AlCarmel for a critical discussion on Mada’s new issue of Jadal that was dedicated to Sexual and Gender Politics. The issue’s topic and articles were initiated by a team of participants from alQaws’ first Sexual and Gender Diversity school, who wrote all the articles.
     

“Jadal” Publishes New Articles about “Sexual Politics in Palestine” 
Our first academic school on sexual and gender diversity took place in December 2014. It engaged activists and academics, and was attended by 30 participants. In 2015, we composed and collected written materials produced by the participants, resulting in a publication of a first set of articles published by Jadal in their November 2015 issue, the journal of Mada al-Carmel, edited by Areen Hawari. The writers were part of the organizing/academic committee, as well as participants from the academic school. The articles were framed under the school's title “Sexual Politics in the Colonial Context of Palestine” and included the following titles: 1)"Introduction: Sexual Politics in the Colonial Context of Palestine," by Areen Hawari (Issue's Editor); 2) "Beyond the Israeli Prison’s Rods: Between the ‘Sexual’ and the ‘Political,’” by Hadeel Badarni; 3) "Hebrew University: The Intersect Between Colonialism and Gender," by Yara Sa’di; 4) "Homosexuality and Equality Discourse: A Critical View on Gay Marriage," by Budour Hassan; 5) "Individuals, Bodies, and Sexuality: Critical Lessons for the Future, Culled from the Palestinian Left’s Past," by alQaws activists; and, 6) "The Image of the Homosexual in the Palestinian Conscious: A Historical Overview," by Ghaith Hillal and Haneen Maikey.



This ongoing and yearly alternating school and publication cycle will create a process on which to continually build knowledge and engage current discussions and concerns around gender and sexual diversity issues. To read the whole issue in Arabic click here. The second school is planned to take place in fall 2016, and we are excited to start working with wonderful activists and academics to offer another inspiring space. 

Join the movement for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestine by supporting alQaws’ unique programming and initiatives. 
Our work depends entirely on generous donors like you, who believe that supporting visionary social change movements and grassroots organizations plays a crucial role in creating an open society. We are grateful for your generous gift. Your contribution allows alQaws to support, advocate, and provide the assistance necessary for the wellbeing of the Palestinian LGBTQ people living here. You are also helping us promote the discourse of sexual and gender diversity within Palestinian society.

In this link, you can find several ways to donate to alQaws, including online donation via PayPal, as well as bank transfer contribution and check gifts. In case you need any assistance, please send us an email at donate@alqaws.org.