Last night I witnessed some bridge-building at a posh hotel in Gaza, Al Mathaf. Speakers representing the Malaysia-Palestine Youth Movement (MPYM) were presenting the goals and future activities of a new partnership between Malaysia and Palestine. Since I don’t understand Arabic, I’ve copied some of the text from their Facebook page below.
Malaysia Palestine Youth Movement (MPYM) will improve the economic and social conditions of the Palestinian people by identifying their social and economic needs and by establishing concrete projects to that end. MPYM is a responsive development agency that works together with the Palestinian Youth Leaders and members from OIC, Hamas, Fatah and Local NGOs to fulfill their aspiration for sustainable human development based on self-determination, equality and freedom. The overarching aim of the conference is to move towards an action plan that will be announced after the conference.
There were between 100-150 people in attendance, and some had questions. Lack of transparency seemed to be a concern. “How were the people selected to travel earlier to Malaysia? This is the first I’m hearing about the MPYM.” Another asked: “How will you reach out to engage the youth in Gaza in future projects?” One person cautioned the organizers not to get tied into the political division and strife in Palestine (ie. Fatah vs. Hamas).
At the end of the evening, a large cake was brought out lit with sparklers!
There was a celebratory mood in the air, tinged with anticipation. I suspect that many in the audience are hoping this collaboration between Malaysia and Palestine will open up new jobs and opportunities for the youth in Gaza where the unemployment rate tops 32% and is rising!
Based on two little words on the MPYM Facebook page, I have reason to be hopeful. “Action plan.”
Generally, I don’t see a culture of planning in Gaza. Life is about survival and making it through today’s crises. The MPYM wants to make an “action plan” to guide its activities. This is an excellent beginning. Momtaz! I hope the planning process is transparent and inclusive.
The youth involved in this project give me hope too. I hope they don’t let the old farts meddle.