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***EXTENDED*** Our Application deadline has been extended to March 18th 2011. Please note, we are accepting applications on a rolling basis. Please send completed applications to info@cepal.ca.

We are currently recruiting for our upcoming 2011 Overseas program.  Last year’s program was so successful, we can’t wait to get started for 2011!

Visit our Application Page for more information!

We look forward to hearing from you!

Recruitment for our 2010 Overseas Program has come to and end with the selection of three qualified and capable volunteers!

Preparations for their departure, placements and our partnerships are in full swing. This year’s program is shaping up to be a fantastic one complete with longer placements and renewed relationships with partner organizations!

Please stay tuned for more updates on our volunteers’ progress and CEPAL’s 2010 Fundraising Campaign!

By Elizabeth Cooper

On January 21st, 2010, the Conservative government announced that Canada would be withdrawing its financial support from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). UNRWA has been assisting Palestinian Refugees gain access to food, education, health care and social services since 1950, when they numbered roughly 1 million. Today, the number of Palestinians in refugee camps has swelled to approximately 5 million and their circumstances have seen little change.

As a volunteer during CEPAL’s 2009 Summer Program, I saw firsthand the impact of UNRWA’s presence in the camps. Each camp has an UNRWA school, giving hundreds of children access to education. My fellow CEPAL volunteers, Julie and Erin, worked at UNRWA schools in both Shatila and Wavel camps. The infrastructure provided by the school makes summer programs like CEPAL’s possible.

While living in Bourj el-Barajneh, UNRWA’s presence wasn’t flashing in neon lights at the main entrance to the camp. It was omnipresent, however. Blue signs outside of small offices, the schools, rubbish collectors with UNRWA vests, the occasional question from a resident, “do you work for UNRWA?” Healthcare, including hospitals, doctors and medicine, is provided for by UNRWA. Social services, including disability and emergency relief, are designed to assist individuals in becoming more self-reliant. UNRWA also runs microfinance programs and programs for women, all designed to promote positive socio-economic growth within the Palestinian community. UNRWA has provided many physical benefits to the Palestinians, but they have also provided quantifiable evidence of Palestinian population numbers, unemployment rates, health statistics and documented living conditions. All of this information colludes to form a body of knowledge that represents the Palestinian people in the global arena. Reports written, photographs taken, statistics calculated; all help to define the plight of Palestinian refugees and publicize it internationally.

UNRWA is funded exclusively by UN member nations. In 2009, only 86% of targeted funding was reached, which has resulted in a reduction in quality and quantity of services. With the Palestinian population growing, the situation will continue to worsen. Canada’s withdrawal of funding, after multiple decades, means UNRWA has just lost its 7th largest donor. The loss of these funds could have real impact on the ground in camps like Bourj, where I lived, and friends I made continue to live. The funds, reallocated to other, as yet unspecified Palestinian projects, are crucial to the delivery of important UNRWA programs. CEPAL’s primary mandate is empowerment through education; these cuts could severely inhibit UNRWA’s ability to provide access to education in the camps.

We at CEPAL encourage anyone reading this statement to write a letter to their member of parliament, asking for an explanation for the withdrawal of funding, and a breakdown of the reallocation of funds.

The 2010 CEPAL Calendar contains photos taken by volunteer Elizabeth Cooper during the 2009 Summer Program.

Each calendar costs $15, or you can buy 3 for $30.

Please click here for more information.

To order, please email nzeitoun@yahoo.com or use CanadaHelps for payment.The 2010 CEPAL Calendar contains photos taken by volunteer Elizabeth Cooper during the 2009 Summer Program.

Each calendar costs $15, or you can buy 3 for $30.

Please email nzeitoun@yahoo.ca or click here for more information!

If you live in Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal and are interested in volunteering at CEPAL, please think about applying for a position on the Board of Directors for 2010.  Available Director positions include: Events; Communications; IT; and Finance.

Please click here or email info@cepal.ca for more information

Thanks to the hard work and help of many volunteers and donors, CEPAL is delighted to announce that we successfully ran our 11th summer program in Lebanon!

Last summer’s Needs Assessment has helped us to reaffirm that yes, our summer program in the camps is as important as ever and that yes, CEPAL’s summer program plays a significant role in the camps.

This year we were fortunate enough to hire volunteers who had the specific skills that our partner NGO’s were looking for.  This included photography, drama and science.

Three volunteers and one coordinator completed a three-day series of teaching workshops with UNRWA and Najdeh in Wavel camp, and then moved on to Bourj el-Barajneh camp in South Beirut to begin their regular classes.

Elizabeth Cooper used photography to a connect to children of various ages at the Children and Youth Centre of Shatila, as well as a class of younger children at the Women’s Humanitarian Organization in Bourj.

Erin Lynch taught a group of grade 8 students at the UNRWA Haifa school, as well as a group of young teens at Najdeh school in Shatila.

Julie Davidson taught at UNRWA Haifa, with the younger group of grade 7 students.  After spending the early morning there, she made her way to Najdeh in Bourj, where she taught  science and English.

Wendy Chan, the Lebanon Field Coordinator, worked very hard to continue to build our relationships with all of our partners and with the community as a whole.

We’re very grateful to our volunteers, who have enabled CEPAL to continue lending an empathetic ear, helping hands, and a voice of solidarity to our friends in Lebanon.

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CEPAL cookbook for sale
CEPAL cook books for sale: $15 each. Enjoy Palestinian food at home! Email info@cepal.ca to order