The first of the Culture and Free Thought Association’s community centers, Al-Shruq Wal Amal Center was established in 1991 in Khan Younis Refugee Camp. The Center runs educational, recreational, and cultural programs for boys and girls between 6 and 12 years of age living in Khan Younis Refugee Camp in particular and in the governorate more generally. 

Each year around 8,200 children (40% girls) have benefited from the center activities – some 200 attend activities daily at the Center and an additional 8,000 participate in the Center’s community outreach activities.

Open from 8 am till 3 pm five days a week, the center hosts a library, ongoing programs in fine arts; games and sport; music, theater and Dabkah (traditional Palestinian folkdance); computer; gardening; and after-school support as well as a wide range of periodic activities like the CFTA annual cultural festival, Juthoor cultural heritage festival and annual summer camps.


Highlights in 2014

·        Bird Nests  

As part of including parents in supporting their children, CFTA implemented “Bird Nests,” with 52 children aged 6 to 12 (22 boys, 30 girls) and 50 of their mothers. Bird Nests involves a series of discussion workshops during which children talk about their problems and reflect in writing on their feelings about them. The writings are put in a special nest for each child. At the end of the workshops, the mothers together with their children open the nests and discuss the issues of the children. This activity has proven very helpful in helping mothers to listen to and better understand their children.

·        Child to Child 

    30 children (6 boys, 24 girls) organized workshops and discussions during which they selected key community issues of concern that they wanted to address. Over 150 children (40 boys, 111 girls) then designed and participated in different activities addressing these issues. One group, for example, focused on raising awareness about water and water pollution by organizing art galleries, a radio series and radio spots, and public awareness workshops with specialists and families.



  Our approach

Al Shruq Wal Amal Center seeks to nurture a new generation capable of giving, sharing, and taking responsibility by creating a healthy learning environment for the holistic and integrated development of children (6-12 years). Every child is encouraged to continuously seek out new opportunities for discovery, experimentation, self-expression, knowledge-building, and connecting with others.

The Center’s approach is rooted in the understanding that healthy childhood development begins with ensuring that each child is at the club of her/his own learning processes. Learning is pursued through active participation in an open and diverse range of individual and collective cultural and educational games and activities grounded in self-expression. Recognizing that each child has her/his own unique set of skills and capacities, children are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and at the same time supporting and respecting others’ learning efforts. Conversation and debate are used as alternatives to punishment and abuse and the Center works to build children’s awareness of their rights as well as a sense of responsibility and mutual respect.

Within this framework, the Center works to: contribute to finding solutions for educational, recreational and cultural challenges for children; foster an atmosphere of dialogue amongst children which encourages self-expression and exploration of community issues; ensure time and space for play, recreation and leisure; and support the development of children’s talents and skills in their particular areas of interests; and nurture their leadership qualities.