Breaking New Grounds in Tunisia

CTDC, in collaboration with Mawjoudin, has carried out a series of successful workshops on organisational development and strategic thinking. The workshops also focused on sexuality and gender, enabling a lively discussion that was representative of different segments of Tunisian society.

The training offered by CTDC focused in particular on improving strategic thinking and planning. Topics included thinking effectively about long term organisational planning, rethinking sexual rights movements or organisations, working efficiently with one another in an often challenging setting. CTDC also discussed the need to use appropriate terminology when addressing sexual rights given the often-sensitive nature of such an issue.

The workshops were all extremely well received by participants. Attendance was high and the level of engagement was excellent. One of the attendees said that: “This training course has exceeded my expectations in terms of strategic thinking and planning”. Another participant said that: “The trainers were very friendly and capable. They were equipped with the skills to deliver the training in a coherent manner.” We also learnt so much from those who participated, and were grateful for the egalitarian and professional nature of the discussions. This enabled an extremely successful set of workshops for both trainers and trainees.


As such, CTDC would like to express our sincere thanks to all those who attended. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with such an inspiring group of activists. The atmosphere was collaborative, providing a safe space for everyone involved. Following the workshops, CTDC will continue to support the activists as they work on taking their training forward. We will also be providing mentorship and support for this group in the coming months in order to meet our project objectives. We are particularly pleased with how well the workshops went given the nature of a number of our project goals. Firstly, the workshops embodied a democratic and non-discriminatory quality that we believe ought to enhance the democratic space available to Tunisian activists. The workshops also expanded the capacity of such activists to come together to support one another in their work. The collaboration that was witnessed during the course of the workshops also helps to ensure the likelihood that activist organisations will develop sustainably from the grass roots.

CTDC is incredibly excited to be taking this work forward by fostering a long-term partnership with activists in Tunisia. It is hoped that our collaborative work here will enable long-term improvements in the conditions facing marginalised communities.

UCL Global Citizenship Programme

Last month, CTDC had the pleasure of working with a number of UCL Global Citizenship Programme Interns. During their time at our offices, they put together a brilliant video outlining the situation facing marginalised sexual communities in the Greater Maghreb. The video also highlights the legal challenges confronting marginalised asylum seekers.

They also supported CTDC’s Regional Advocacy Action Plan (RAP) by putting together a research led funding application that, if successful, ought to significantly support our operational capacity.

Research completed by the UCL Interns unravelled a number of major legal barriers and challenges to sexual rights in the MENA region. In applying this research, they were able to develop a workable advocacy plan that focused on marginalised sexual group rights in the region. Their research considered the important need for grassroots change, adopting key CTDC methodologies.

Antonia Lee commented that her time with CTDC had been an “invaluable opportunity. The fact that CTDC as an organisation exists is amazing, and your approach to advocacy really has allowed me to see beyond the disillusionment surrounding academia and NGOs. There is hope.”

Statement on the Mass Shooting of LGBTQ Persons in Orlando

Statement on the Mass Shooting of LGBTQ Persons in Orlando

We are all incredibly shocked and saddened by the recent death of 49 LGBTQ people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We would like to extend our grief to all those affected. We stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, as well as the friends and families of those killed and injured.


At CTDC, we would also like to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ Persons of Colour who were overwhelmingly the victims of Saturday night’s massacre. When responding to this tragedy we must remember the diverse and intersecting qualities of the queer community both in Orlando and around the world. This event is a reminder of the major challenges that still exist, from gender binaries to racism – and these should not be ignored.


The challenge for all of us then is to respond to this event in a way that emboldens the shared values and beliefs of the LGBTQ movement around the world. We believe that we should not give in to hate or prejudice when apportioning blame. Doing so undermines the values of non-discrimination and peace, which sit at the foundations of the LGBTQ movement. We believe that criminalising the Muslim community is not the appropriate response to this incident. It is not only destructive, but also undermines the daily struggle of LGBTQ people due to homophobia. We should not single out a whole nation or community and/or hold them accountable for this incident.


As such, CTDC denounces attempts in the press and online media to co-opt this tragedy into a narrative of war, conflict and terror. The systems of prejudice and oppression that shape the lives of LGBTQ people around the world are complex and intersecting, and should not be simplified into narratives of ‘us versus them’. We call for a more nuanced discussion in the media’s response to this tragedy that reflects the alterity of different communities and faiths in positive and progressive ways. We are concerned that a more simplified debate may sustain a process of ‘othering’ – this can be seen in certain responses that have sought to frame Saturday’s shooting as an ‘attack on Western values’. This does a disservice to the millions of queer peoples who are bravely fighting for their rights around the world, and ignores the still deep-rooted systems of oppression and prejudice that find a home ‘in the West’. More significantly, we are concerned by certain attempts in the media to overlook the anti-LGBTQ sentiments that motivated this attack. Certain reports have instead framed the shootings as the product of an East-West culture clash, resulting in a universalising narrative that does little to help challenge the diverse motivations behind anti-LGBTQ sentiments. Moreover, we believe that such a narrative will inevitably inspire further anti-Islamic sentiments, and justify a false perception that it is impossible to be Queer in ‘the Muslim world’. Our work with queer rights groups in the MENA region has revealed how problematic such universalised narratives can be, and we will continue to challenge them now and well into the future.


The shooting is a stark reminder that homophobia and hate have not vanished from queer lives around the world. Attempts to ignore this point in the press do harm to the politics of the LGBTQ movement. In order for a truly diverse and inclusive world to exist, we must look to the root cause of hate. Systems of oppression, like those that rely on anti-Islamic as well as anti-LGBTQ sentiments, are interrelated. They generate systems of violent patriarchy, gender binaries and religious extremism that are not unique to any one part of the world but are indeed global in their reach. The struggle for greater equality, non-discrimination and non-violence is a struggle to break down these structures. This cannot be imposed, but through collaboration and conversation can we begin to imagine a world where such violence is non-existent.


The CTDC Team

Call for Participation- Regional Action Plan for Advocacy

CTDC is delighted to announce the launch of its Gender and Sexuality program in the MENA region, with its first project under the title of LGBTQ Regional Advocacy Action Plan (RAP) in the MENA Region. In partnership with Cecilia Karlstedt Consulting, CTDC is organising two workshops in Turkey for LGBTQ rights activists to come together and discuss a way forward for advocacy. The project is being carried out with financial support from the Swedish Institute. The project will take place over a period of 18 months, during which there will be an initial workshop to come up with a regional action plan, followed by a period of remote consulting advice to participating LGBTQ rights activists and organisations in their advocacy work provided by CTDC, and finally there will be a final workshop to discuss advocacy work following a year of implementation of the joint regional advocacy plan (RAP).


The first workshop is intended to take place between 17 and 21 November 2016 in Turkey.

The second workshop is intended to take place between 16 and 20 November 2017 in Turkey. The same persons will be selected for both workshops.

More information on the project is available in Arabic and in English.

CTDC is currently seeking statements of interest from LGBTQ activists, individuals and organisations from Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Tunisia, Lebanon and Syria. We are disheartened that we cannot include more countries in this call for participation, as places are limited to twenty participants, but we are hoping that this will be a pilot project that will lead to a larger MENA-region wide program. If you are interested, please submit a statement of interest to The deadline for applications is August 1, 2016.






Call for Participants: LGBTQ Regional Action Plan (RAP)

CTDC is delighted to announce the launch of its Gender and Sexuality Program in the MENA region, with its first project under the title of LGBTQ Regional Advocacy Action Plan (RAP) in the MENA Region. Funded by the Swedish Institute- SIDA, and in partnership with Cecilia Karlstedt Consulting, CTDC are organising two workshops in Turkey for LGBTQ rights activists to come together and discuss a way forward for advocacy.

The first workshop is intended to take place between 17 and 21 November 2016 in Turkey.

The second workshop is intended to take place between 16 and 20 November 2017 in Turkey.

CTDC is currently seeking statements of interest from LGBTQ activists, individuals and organisations from Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Tunisia, Lebanon and Syria. We are disheartened that we cannot include more countries in this call for participation, as places are limited to twenty participants, but we are hoping that this will be a pilot project that will lead to a larger MENA-region wide program. If you are interested, please submit a statement of interest to

Deadline for submissions is 1 August 2016.

CTDC Launches New Project: Defending the Rights of LGBT People in Tunisia


In collaboration with local partners, CTDC has signed the contract for the Magna Carta Human Rights and Democracy Fund, for our project entitled “Defending the Rights of LGBT People in Tunisia”.

This project will seek to widen the democratic spaces available to Tunisia’s vibrant and active LGBT rights groups. Overall, the project – which will run through to the end of 2017 – seeks to increase equality and non-discrimination by improving the institutional protection against discrimination.

Ultimately, CTDC aims to remove or amend discriminatory laws, policies and practices which target LGBT individuals, activists and organisations in Tunisia.

Dr Nour Abu-Assab Offers Some Critical Insights at MEFD Media and Civil Society Workshop

On 23 May 2016 CTDC took part in the Middle East Forum for Development (MEFD)’s workshop on the Media and Civil Society. Discussions revolved around the role of social media as a crucial tool in the development of democracy in the Middle East. However, Nour took a pessimistic tone, demonstrating how social media can also be used as a way of oppressing minorities. Nour also warned that social media may actually disable deep-rooted advocacy, becoming an easy but ultimately limited tool in the fight for equality and human rights protection.

Nour also argued that the U.N. often fails to address gross human rights violations despite well documented cases of atrocities, like the ones in Syria perpetrated by government forces. “One has to look to who is funding the United Nations in order to understand such phenomena”, Dr Assab added.”

For more information on the workshop please visit MEFD’s website here.

A full video of Nour’s presentation is available here.

Women and the Global ‘Refugee Crisis’

On March 8, 2016, CTDC directors, Dr Nof Nasser Eddin and Dr Nour Abu Assab, will be speaking at Warwick University Community Speakers Series about Women and the Global Refugee Crisis, focusing on refugee women’s experiences in transit countries and in the UK following their resettlement. The talk will draw from CTDC research findings on the refugees and will attempt to shift the attention from the so-called refugee crisis to women’s experiences of refuge.

The panel will include Cassie Adjei (Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre), and and a speaker from Birmingham Asylum and Refugee Association will discuss the gendered nature of the refugee crisis and the particular challenges facing women.
The event will take place at the Modern Records Centre (MRC) at the University of Warwick and will start around 6 pm. Space is limited and to attend the event you will need to book in advance via this link.

Hikayetna: Storytelling from Syria

By Sulaiman Osman

Hikayetna, meaning ‘our story’ in Arabic, is a new art project that brings people together to talk about the human side of Syrian society. For decades, freedom of expression has been absent from our society, but with our words and our stories we can become united, and feel our humanity, to turn fear into hope.

Hikayetna is a non-political and independent initiative that encourages, develops and aids communities in need while promoting tolerance, love, humanity and cultural values. This initiative is about finding common grounds and interests between people, it neither promotes political agendas nor religious ones. Our aim is to put forward personal stories and life experiences to build a bridge of love and humanity.

Through this blog, we hope to spread Syrians’ thoughts, words, and feelings, especially Syrians living in refugee camps. We aim to make their voice heard by different audiences around the world, who would have never had the chance to hear those stories otherwise. All of our stories will encourage building bridges from one heart to another, in order to deliver our voice to the world. We would like to help young people express themselves through poetry, photographs, stories and music. We see writing as great means for people to express their emotions and feelings through storytelling.

The goal of this project is to motivate young people to write and create stories by equipping them with practical trainings. We are therefore inviting young Syrians to help us create and share their stories, focusing on culture, arts, and music. Moreover, this project is a way to encourage young people to learn, socialise, and participate in building civil life and be active actors in it.

All of us share common hopes, fears and feelings, and we live by dreaming and hoping for a better tomorrow. As humanity in our country is destroyed, we are constantly looking for stories of hope to give us optimism, and looking to work together to build our country, promote dialogue and discussion, uphold community values and support community groups and young people through partnership and outreach. In addition, Hikayetna aims to be a hub for stories about the real Syrian lives. Finally, we strive to continually grow and attract diverse audience using different media platforms, including organising events and online workshops.

We hope this project will be a voice for all Syrians, regardless of their views, religion or background. We aim to break the media’s negative images about Syria and to show a beautiful picture of Syria and Syrians.

Gendering the ‘Refugee Crisis’ Conference Sessions

Following the conference held on December 11, 2015, in collaboration with the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance at the Open University, CTDC has made sessions from the conference available to the public via its YouTube Channel. The videos can be used as open source references, and as educational material accessible to those interested in the topic. In addition to the videos of the conference sessions, Dr Nof Nasser-Eddin and Dr Nour Abu-Assab have answered questions during an interview about CTDC’s research findings on the Syrian Refugees in Turkey, and their conceptualisation of gender and sexuality.

The videos are available below and via our YouTube Channel.


Behind Concrete Walls: On Remand in Amman

Women’s Personal Narratives of Remand Prisons in Jordan 

By Anonymous

‘You have had the chance to see it from the inside, journalists and researchers would kill for such an opportunity,’ a colleague told me after having spent a night in a women’s remand prison in Amman, the capital of Jordan. I recognised my privileged research access the moment I was taken into custody. I also realised that I had been so privileged knowing that my stay was only limited to a few hours, and my exit would be relatively smooth in comparison to others, whose stories and fate haunted me, ever since I left al-Juwaideh remand prison for women. My incarceration has been due to an administrative matter, which would normally be resolved on the same day. To my luck, however, I was taken into custody on a weekend, meaning that all administrative judicial departments were closed. Before my incarceration, I had been given the chance to make phone calls using my mobile phone in order to arrange for a lawyer to prepare needed documents and follow on procedures. Despite the fact that I was privileged, and I had access to legal support, I still felt anxious and intimidated by the idea of spending a night in prison. To add to my anxiety, none of the security actors explained procedures to me or explained where I was being taken. One of them said: ‘you will spend the night in a room with policewomen, do not worry.’ Another said: ‘you will go to prison, you might want to say goodbye to your family.’ My lawyer and family reassured me that it is only a matter of procedures and that I could have been released the same day had it not been a weekend. I felt slightly reassured knowing that I am not on my own; I had family, friends, work colleagues and a lawyer on my side. Yet the idea of spending the night in limbo was terrifying.

Ethnographer On Remand

In 2015, Dignity published a report on Conditions for Women Detention in Jordan. The authors of the report explain that they were not allowed to visit al-Juwaideh temporary detention facility, and that data on that particular facility was very limited. It does not surprise me anymore why researchers and journalists do not have access to this particular facility- the one I had been privileged enough to spend a night talking to and interviewing women detainees. The moment I was informed that I was being taken to al-Juwaideh, I decided to wear my ethnographer’s hat, an act of self-protection and an opportunistic attitude making the most out of my anxiety and misery. I was taken in a police car with another woman, whose story was challenging a traffic police officer making unwelcomed remarks about the clothing of other women with her in the car.

Arriving in al-Juwaideh, we were handed by the policemen to policewomen, who started the process of searching. I had a rucksack on me, containing a book, notebook and a laptop. The search happens over two stages, a search of belongings and a physical search. I was asked to take everything out of my rucksack. I had chewing gum, which I had forgotten about, the policewoman rudely asked me to throw it in the garbage bin. After taking everything out, I was asked to untie my shoelaces, put them in the rucksack, along with the book and the notebook and take my laptop and mobile phone into another room. I asked whether I could take a book to read, or a notebook to write, and the policewoman said: ‘where do you think you are?’ Obediently, I went to the other room, where another policewoman awaits to take the ‘expensive’ belongings and place them into lockers. I had to give up my laptop, my mobile phone and most of the cash I had on me, except for five Jordanian Dinars, as she explained I might need them. Afterwards, detainees are asked to go to a dark damp room for a strip search. I was led to that room, I only remember that there were five other detainees in a corner putting their clothes on and that the floor was wet, because my socks got wet. The woman prison officer addressed me saying: ‘stand in the corner and flash them’. I did not understand at the beginning, but later I realised after her tone became harsher as she repeated her sentence, that I had to flash my breasts. After the flashing of the breasts, detainees are asked to pull down their trousers and underwear, and squat a few times. Putting on my ethnographer’s hat made the search feel less humiliating than it could have been. However, anxiety kicked in once I was taken into the actual detention centre. It was 5 pm, dinnertime at the detention centre; women from all different backgrounds were queuing in a courtyard for a piece of stale bread, an egg and some tea served in plastic cups. One of the women prison guards shouted at me, saying: ‘go to the Arabs chamber.’

Tell Us Your Story

I headed to the room she pointed towards; entering slowly and carefully, I saluted the inmates in the Arab’s room, who greeted me back by saying ‘tell us your story.’ The cold room included eight double bunk metal beds, with small covers on each and a pillow. Some of the beds were not useable, and others did not have mattresses on them. The room was full of beds, except for a small space that does not exceed one square meter in size. Within that square meter women sat on their covers smoking, chatting and telling their stories, which were all a manifestation of a system that under privileges women and places them in precarious situations. The first to speak was a Jordanian woman of Palestinian origin; I will call her Nasma here. Nasma in tears took us back to a time, when she and her husband were living comfortably.

In Nasma’s Words

‘Things were really good, he had a business and we were well off, and we built a family together. Suddenly, he decided to take on a second wife. I accepted it. We lived together. She was his secretary, and we finally grew accustomed to each other. Years went by, and the business started falling apart. He started asking people for debts, and started signing blank checks. A few months ago, the debtors decided to take him to court, and he was imprisoned for failing to pay. I wanted to visit him in prison, with my co-wife. My youngest child begged me not to go and leave her behind that day. I just went ahead. As we entered the prison to visit him, I was asked to provide an ID, and I gave the policeman mine. He looked at me suspiciously, as he entered my name into a computer, and said: ‘Nasma?’ I said: ‘yes, sir, that is me.’ He said: ‘you are wanted by the police.’ I was in shock, I had no idea what was going on, and I still have no idea. The policemen explained that I have been sentenced to prison in absentia for not paying debtors. I never took any money from anyone myself. It must be my husband who did. He took 260,000 Jordanian Dinars, using my name. You know he is my guardian, so he can easily take my ID, and sign checks in my name. The police said I could only get out if we pay that amount, but I do not have that much money. My kids, I worry about my kids…’

You Have Family Outside

As Nasma finished her sentence, and started sobbing, Kamilia said: ‘do not worry you have family outside.’ Kamilia told us her story, and started by saying: ‘look, there are five of us Tunisian women here, and our families are in Tunisia.’ Kamilia explained that some of the Tunisian women in detention have been there for over three months for overstaying their visas. She said: ‘they ask us to pay penalties for overstaying and pay for our tickets back home. Some of us here cannot afford to pay that, so we are stuck in limbo.’ One of the Tunisian women explained that she is married to a man from Gaza, who by law cannot grant her a residence permit in Jordan. She went on to say: ‘I have kids I have not seen, in I do not know how long now. My husband is poor; he cannot help me. The only way out for me is to find someone to pay that money, and I just go to Tunis and leave everything here behind.’

For these women, staying in detention for lengthy periods of time means that their overstay penalties are increasing on a daily basis. This also means that their lives are on hold, they are kept in detention with no agency at all to even manage to get the money they owe the government. Many of them explained as well that they are concerned about their families outside, and that they do not have access to means of communications in detention. One of them said: ‘you know, permanent prisons are much better, food is better, you have a set time for communications, and you know how long you will be staying there, you know when it would end. Here is the worst of all places.’

Home is Worse Sometimes

‘I do not think so,’ Ghada said, ‘sometimes home is worse than here.’ Ghada, resorted to the police to protect her from her family, who are threatening to kill her, because she fell in love with the ‘wrong’ man. In Jordan, due to the lack of shelters and protection facilities, women, who report abuse from their families, find themselves thrown in remand detention centres. Again, the system does not only fail to protect women, but also criminalises them instead. Hours after I had arrived in al-Juwaideh, a woman in her early thirties entered, looking traumatised and panicky. Asked about her story, she explained that three men had raped her, and when her family found out they plotted her murder. She explained that she ran away, and when she resorted to the police, she was thrown in prison. Honour crimes are common in Jordan, and those who murder their female-relatives, claiming that the women broke their families’ honour code, by engaging or being forced to engage in sexual activity, are given a reduced sentence in prison. In so many ways, women are criminalised under such laws, even if they were victims to rape or sexual violence. Whereas these women have become victims to their families, some cases criminalise families, who attempt to protect their daughters.

Manipulating the System

 Towards the end of the night, the room got more and more crowded. More than 30 women constrained to a room that is barely enough for 16. The last arrivals included a woman and her teenage daughter. They were accused of fraud and forging governmental documents. Salma, the mother, said: ‘a few months ago, my daughter got pregnant outside of wedlock. I panicked and wanted to support her. I asked her if she wanted to keep it, and she expressed a desire to have the baby. She had a beautiful baby daughter. By law, you cannot register children born out of wedlock, and my daughter could have gotten imprisoned if authorities had known. I had to register her daughter under my name. On the birth certificate, I told them that the mother’s name was Salma, and I went the next day to register the baby. Authorities heard about it somehow, I suspect one of the neighbours informed the police. Now we are facing fraud charges.’ Salma said that she does not regret doing it, but also expressed fears with regards to the future and the future of the child, who was taken into care by the authorities. Whereas forging governmental document and fraud are serious crimes, it is very difficult in such cases not to sympathise with those who became ‘criminals’ due to a system that oppresses women’s sexuality and places barriers on them.

Behind Concrete Walls

It was very difficult to tell what time it was, when we heard Um Hussein, an eighty-year old Palestinian woman, shout and cry in the courtyard. Um Hussein was brought in charged with begging, despite her bad health and old age, the officers who found her had no regard for that, and she had to spend the night in a room with no space or mattresses. I tried to ask the prison officers for extra mattresses for the increasing number of women in the room, but the officer shouted at me and said: ‘do you think you are in five star a hotel?’ I went back to the room disgruntled, and one of the Tunisian women said: ‘you know we are lucky; they treat non-Arab women even worse. I witnessed a Sri Lankan woman being tortured, she was thrown onto the floor, kicked, beaten and they threw cold water over her.’ Behind these concrete walls there are stories, many stories that need to be heard. Issues that need to be addressed, and an overall system reform is required to guarantee women basic rights. Behind these concrete walls, I spent the night listening to women’s stories. The early morning hours waiting to be called by officers to be released after sorting out my papers were the most difficult and longest. They called my name, I would say around 10:30 in the morning the next day. I picked up my belongings from the prison officer and was taken into a police car to the judicial administrative unit. On the way, a police officer said: ‘if you have mobile phones on you, call your families and lawyers, because if they are not there already, you will be sent back to detention.’ I panicked despite my trust that my papers had already been prepared. I tried to switch on my out of battery mobile phone, for what felt like hours. The police officers would not allow anyone to use their phones. The half an hour drive felt like two hours, but as soon as I arrived I saw my lawyer and my release papers. My name on my identity card resembled another woman’s name wanted for so-called justice. And, that left me wondering, how many victims to the system are there who will never achieve justice for themselves? How can we break these concrete walls and hear their real stories?


Women's Detention in Jordan

Women’s Detention in Jordan

Al Rafah Social Care in Palestine

Ageism is a real problem in all societies, as the elderly and senior citizens often face economic and social marginalisation. The manifestations of this form of discriminations differ across societies, as in some societies respect for the elderly is engraved in their cultural codes. In others, the elderly are deemed as old fashioned and their judgments are deemed unreasonable. One of the main forms of marginalisation facing the elderly in Palestine is a considerable lack of public and private funding in relation to homes for the elderly. This lack places pressure on organisations supporting the elderly to continue working to provide for their target group. Al-Rafah Social Care, meaning welfare in Arabic, is currently one of the leading charitable organisations providing Palestinian elderly in Ramallah with support services that focus on their well-being.


The two Palestinian women, Ms Khawala Alkurd and Ms Sarah Nasser Eddin, who co-founded al-Rafah Social Care in January 2009, felt the need for such an initiative within the Palestinian community. The co-founders aimed to create an organisation that does not only provide shelter, but also a home where senior citizens feel safe and loved. In their own words: ‘we are aware of the vulnerability of the elderly in our community and society, so we decided to establish a home, where the elderly live with dignity and respect. We make sure that our residents are comfortable, and we always try to make they adjustment to their environment smooth’. Initially, the initiative aimed to create a safe space for the elderly, however, the initiative developed into a home for people with physical and mental disabilities, including cases of Alzheimer and dementia. Those cases are considered difficult to deal with, and al-Rafah’s ability to attend to such needs distinguishes it from many others in the field. Al-Rafah provides shelter in some cases for women who faced abuse. For instance, a 24-year old woman with a physical disability was admitted to al-Rafah. The woman’s family was not able to care for her, and the woman’s life was at risk as her father had physically and sexually abused her on a number of occasions. During an interview with the co-founders they stressed that they have an open door policy to anyone in need of care. They stated: ‘we take any humanitarian case that does not have anywhere else to go’.


Loneliness and isolation are some of the problems the elderly face in all communities, and this contributes to their feelings of vulnerability and lack of safety. For this reasons, senior citizens homes, such as al-Rafah, are really important for their well-being. Al-Rafah does not only provide its residents with physical and medical support, but it also provides them with psychological and social support. This type of support helps them reintegrate into the community, and reduces their feeling of loneliness. Al-Rafah organises social activities that aim to engage their residents, and the nature of those activities are dependent on the residents’ health conditions. Al-Rafah, for instance, organises trips to different Palestinian cities, and also organises in house activities and celebrations, such as national holidays and even residents’ birthdays. Al-Rafah is home to 15 permanent residents today, however, they also host individuals between the ages of 24 and 94, who are in need of care. There are many services available to all residents and guests, including psychosocial support and counselling, a 24-hour nursing service, physiotherapists, and a kitchen providing organic and healthy food.


In addition to al-Rafah’s distinguished work, and their ability to provide a safe haven for the elderly and the marginalised, they have also been working on raising awareness with regards to the social stigma of elderly homes. At the moment, al-Rafah mainly depends on food and clothes donations, and most of its residents come from disadvantaged and impoverished backgrounds. Some residents are capable of paying for their residence, which provides a source of income for al-Rafah to cover some of the institution’s expenses. Having said that, despite all of their efforts and work, al-Rafah is in constant need for financial support to cover the rent, salaries and utility bills, and due to the huge gap in private and public funding for the elderly, there is a real threat to such institutions, which could prevent them from continuing their work. It is very important, to support al-Rafah and other similar institutions, for the private and the public sectors, as well as the local community, to come together to help such initiatives in order to create a society that aspires for better living for all.

Al-Rafah Social Care

Al-Rafah Social Care