Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA) was established in 1991 as an
independent, secular non-governmental development organization which, in
emergency situations, also provides humanitarian assistance. CFTA is unique in
its grassroots origins and orientation. We aspire to nurturing new
generations of Palestinians capable of giving, sharing, and taking
responsibility for themselves, one another, and their communities.
over 20 years, CFTA has worked in the middle and southern areas of the Gaza Strip
to provide safe, supportive, interactive spaces and opportunities for members
of our community to explore and experiment; to build knowledge and
skills; to exchange ideas, experiences and expertise; and to connect and create with others. We work to provide a diverse and dynamic range of activities and
programs initiated by and for our constituents – whether male or female, child
or adult – to discover and strengthen their abilities to learn and to act both
independently and collectively and to contribute to the cultural life of
their peers, their local communities and their society more broadly.
is an idea born of conversations between five Palestinian women activists with
a long history of political and social activism. The conversations began over
twenty years ago when the First Intifada, which began in December 1987, had
entered its third year. Violence perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces began to reflect on children's behavior, academic achievement and psychological
status. How, we asked, could we protect our children and help them
to learn, grow and thrive in a healthy environment despite the incredibly
difficult circumstances? We wanted to create a safe, caring place for kids away
from the formal atmosphere in the school, the hard setting on the streets, and
the complex conditions at home. In other words, we wanted to create a space
where each child finds an outlet for her/his energies and creativity and a safe
environment to play with friends. From this simple idea and a strong dose of
shared and passionate commitment to its realization, CFTA’s first center, Al
Shruq Wal Amal (Sunrise and Hope) was born in 1991.
nearly 25 years since its establishment, CFTA’s programs have grown in directions
we could never have imagined. We now work through five community centers to
provide cultural, educational, health and well-being services designed to
support the healthy development of individuals and communities. With two
children’s centers, Al Shruq Wal Amal Center in Khan
Younis Refugee Camp and Al Nowwar Educational Center in Baten Essamien
neighborhood of Khan Younis, CFTA remains the only major Palestinian NGO in the
southern Gaza Strip working directly with children between the ages of 6 to 12.
addition, we have a center for adolescents, Bunat Il Ghad (Builders of
the Future), CFTA's Cultural Center in Al-Amal neighborhood of Khan Younis, and a Women's Health Center in Bureij Refugee Camp.
the scope of our work has expanded to meet the changing times and aspirations
of our people, CFTA remains committed to focusing its work in the communities
where we live in Khan Younis and surrounding communities of the southern Gaza.
Association operates in an area under Israeli military occupation, political
division and high poverty rates. In particular, the Israeli-imposed military
closure and the resulting isolation of the Gaza Strip from the rest of the Palestinian
community and the world at large, has left the Gaza Strip, especially the
southern area, with severe economic, health, and educational challenges and fed new socio-cultural conditions characterized by a rise in conservatism,
lack of community participation, and new internal problems.
we work with and for
programs are designed for children, adolescents, youth, and women with a
special focus on marginalized and underprivileged groups in communities across
the middle and southern Gaza Strip.
How we work – our core values
- CFTA is committed, through the
fulfillment of its vision and mission, to the following core values:
- Promoting Palestinian cultural
- Promoting human rights
principles including equity, equality, accountability, rule of law,
transparency, tolerance, respect, non-discrimination, participation and
empowerment to vulnerable groups with special attention to gender
- Promoting environmental protection
19-member strong General Assembly (11 women and 8 men) includes academics and
leaders from development, rights and women’s non-governmental organizations. It
meets annually to review CFTA’s programs and progress. Every four years it elects
a new board of directors.
elected Board of Directors currently consists of six women and one
team includes a 60-member strong staff (65% women). Our team also
includes 22 volunteers (of whom 15 are women). Together our team represents
a wealth of expertise and experience in fields as diverse education,
communication, community development and mobilization, health, sports, arts and
psychosocial support, media, advocacy, management, and finance.
annual budget averages roughly $1.6 million.
Our partners and allies
order to meet our objectives, CFTA works with a large variety of partners
and within a number of networks in the Gaza Strip, across Palestine,
and internationally. The forms of cooperation include financial support,
service referrals, and joint advocacy efforts. CFTA's partners with a range of civil society organisations specialized in human rights, women’s issues, culture and development. NGO networks in Palestine and in the Arab world allow us to share knowledge and know-how and to work collaboratively within and beyond the Gaza Strip. Our partners also include the Ministries of Education, Social Affairs, Interior, Youth and Sports, Women Affairs, and Health, as well as municipalities and governorates. Service providers, such as universities, government and UNRWA schools, and hospitals, are other important local partners. Finally, bilateral and multilateral development and humanitarian
agencies provide funding and capacity building support.