MEPI Alumna Implements “My City” Project to Support Youth and Start-Up Businesses in Gaza.

Reham El-Saidi experienced major changes in her life after participating in the Leaders for Democracy (LDF) Program. The program increased Reham’s knowledge of civic engagement, leadership skills and introduced her to new cultures and ideas, which allowed her to see things from different perspectives and reflect on her role within her community back home. During LDF, Reham further developed her professional network through an internship with IR-USA, and was able to translate the skills she learned there over to her own community project. Reham attributes much of her success to LDF, stating that her project “would never have been possible without my participation in such a wonderful program.”

With additional support from the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, Reham implemented her project titled “My City,” a one-month advocacy project aimed at promoting volunteerism and start-up businesses in Gaza. She and her team of volunteers engaged the youth population of Gaza through days of service with activities that included: visiting more than 60 children suffering from cancer at the Al-Rantisi Hospital, having a recreational fun day with more than 40 orphan children in the Middle area of the Gaza Strip, and participating in a park clean up at one of the most crowded refugee camps in Gaza where more than 103,000 refugees and their children reside. Additionally, “My City” provided a two-week vocational training course for 15 women in the Northern area of the Gaza Strip to empower them to improve their standard of living so that they can better provide for their families. Reham and her team also organized an exhibition for small businesses and youth to showcase and sell their handicrafts with the goal of generating employment opportunities for those struggling to make ends meet, and supporting those in the early stages of their businesses. Reham is very proud of what she and her team have accomplished, citing that she “changed people’s vision on volunteer work.” Through LDF and “My City,” Reham has made a lasting, positive impact on her community in Gaza.