Doha Mother & Child Community Center
The Bethlehem Development Foundation and the Doha Municipality are developing an operational plan for the Hussam and Suhair Abu Issa Mother and Child Community Center. The Foundation has used the expertise of its board members and external experts to survey community needs in and around Doha to determine the purpose of the centre and the optimal services it can provide. There was consensus on the need to allocate the centre to serve women and to work on operating it as a tool for empowering women socially and economically through programs and projects that the foundation will seek in partnership with the municipality to guide the centre’s management to formulate them. However, this requires, at the outset, the preparation of an in-depth study that clearly sets out the vision and objectives, an operational plan and an organizational structure that will gain the centre sufficient confidence and standards that qualify it to present these projects to local and international partners concerned in the sector of empowering Palestinian women. The cooperation that started 6 years ago, between the foundation and with the Municipality of Doha is still ongoing to develop an implementation plan with clear steps and a timeframe that allows the Doha Municipality to maximize the potential benefit for the whole allocated component. Mother-Child life-transforming Program Part of the constructed building will be used by the women of the community for physical exercise and indoor sports using specialized training equipment to help improve the physical and psychological wellbeing of the women of the community. Community-Based Preschool Education Program for Children Skills such as naming colours, showing affection, and hopping on one foot are called developmental milestones. Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move (like crawling, walking, or jumping). Women Physical and Health Empowerment ‑Sports Center In the community centre Health and Fitness section we offer a superb variety of exercise classes, sports lessons, fitness groups and leisure activities for all women. We help them gain confidence and wellbeing, but most of all help them to enjoy exercise and sports. E-learning Program The aim of the capacity-building intervention is to initiate skill development and introduce foundational concepts in support of engaging online learners.
Efficient Street Lighting
Over the years, street lighting expense in Bethlehem has become a growing burden on the local authorities, even though part of it is directly paid for by the residents. Especially during the Christmas period, the cost of street lighting reaches $40,000 monthly. Additionally, the condition of the street lighting networks needs continuous maintenance often requiring new parts. These facts drove BDF to promote efficient street lighting efforts with solar energy. Starting with the main streets of Bethlehem Governorate, a needs assessment study was carried out by BDF to identify the needed electricity to light 28 kilometres of main and rural streets. The study identified the need for working on three levels in parallel. The first one is to design and install the needed PV solar farms, the second is to replace sodium lamps with high consumption of energy with LED lamps and last to install new lighting poles as needed. A project proposal was developed and submitted to the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD), and in August 2020 AFESD approved to fund the first phase of the project. BDF agreed with the municipalities of Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour to prioritize the streets that need lighting according to their touristic importance and to the current condition of the existing lighting network. Priority was given to the historical core area of each city.
Shepherds’ Field Street Rehabilitation Project
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, public spaces, including streets, squares and parks, have become a central priority for local authorities trying to reassess how the users interact with these spaces. A year later, the way we look at and deal with public spaces has shifted. These places, which once acted as a stage for local authorities, are now being repurposed to serve the community in a way that resonates with the “new normal”. The ways in which the users previously interacted with these spaces, and their subsequent impact on the adjacent places, brings to question how they will be used moving forward. As people were locked down, they soon realized the importance of being able to be mobile by engaging in regular exercise, walking and participating in outdoor recreation. Now, more than ever, we see the need to provide the community with a clean, safe and free environment throughout the governorate of Bethlehem. In response to this need, and in collaboration with the Beit Sahour municipality, BDF put forward a design proposal to ameliorate the environment of the public Toward Sustainable Streets For All-spaces by creating the first sustainable roadway. Based on international standards of design, Shepherds Street will be the main link to the historic and touristic area that takes into consideration pedestrians, cyclists and motorists safety and comfort. This urban intervention, the first phase of the street rehabilitation program in Beit Sahour, will provide a safe and smooth link to the historical sites in the city and will encourage visitors to spend more time experiencing the city. This will also create new opportunities for the communities and visitors to interact in a new way. It will also encourage and support both the urban and economic development of the city. In order to materialize this vision, the urban practitioners at the Bethlehem Development Foundation (BDF), have studied global guidelines in order to put forward a locally viable proposal that creates multi-use and sustainable products that meet the needs of the community. The street also includes the use of progressive street furniture such as smart benches, which offer important tourist information and the installation of green solar canopies that provide power for streets lights and other public spaces.
Nativity Church Restoration: A Project we Support
Restoration of the Church of Nativity: In the year of 2008 and by a Presidential decree, The Presidential Committee for Restoration of the Church of Nativity was established. The Committee is currently headed by Eng. Ziad Albandak and membership of Marwan Abdelhamid, Varsen Aghabekian, Nazmi Al Jubeh, Khouloud Daibes, Claudette Habesch, Nabil Kassis, Issa Kassissieh and Anton Salman. By the year of 2010, the Palestinian Authority and the Presidential Committee, after coordinating and getting the approvals from the different concerned churches, announced a design and assessment effort tender. This tender has been established to direct the restoration program of the Nativity Church. The Design agreement was signed off in September 2010 with the selected consortium in the presence and witness of the Prime Minister Dr Salam Fayyad and the representatives of the three concerned churches, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Holy Land Custody Terra Sancta and the Armenians Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The three stages of design were completed in October 2011. The design package comprised of a final report, tender documents, design drawings and a Bill of Quantities for each component of the restoration program of the Nativity Church. The Presidential Committee awarded the Italian firm “Piacenti spa” the contract for Phase I: “Roof and Windows Restoration” on July 25, 2013, since their submitted tender proposal on June 14, 2013, got the highest scores in both technical and financial offers throughout a competitive international bidding process. On August 26, 2013, an agreement was signed between the Palestinian Presidential Committee for the Restoration of the Church of Nativity as Employer and Piacenti S.p.a. – Italy as the “Contractor” to start the first phase of restoration “Roof & Windows”.The late Mr Said Khoury, Co-Founder of Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) and founder of the Bethlehem Development Foundation (BDF), spearheaded the needed studies and was the first to fund these restorations in 2011. In 2013 and beyond, BDF was able to secure a generous donation of $1M from The Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development to fund the restoration of the external facades and internal plaster. In September 2018 BDF secured funding from the Levant Foundation to fund the restoration of the last 11 columns of the central nave of the Nativity Church. Since the commencement of the restoration works on September 15, 2013, the Committee has been receiving generous donations from different donors, which enabled them to start and complete other restoration tasks based on a list of priorities and according to the final study recommendations. These additional works included the restoration of the narthex, the narthex eastern wooden door, the external stone façades, internal wall plastering, wall mosaic, the Basilica metal doors, wooden architraves, the installation of the electrical systems “lighting and smoke detection systems”, 33 columns out of the Basilica 50 columns and two portions of the floor mosaic. For more information, please visit: http://www.nativityrestoration.ps/