In the summer of 2017, BuildPalestine launched the Scholarship for Changemakers, the first scholarship in Palestine to award students for the impact they are having on the community.
We selected five inspiring changemakers who are working to make an impact on their community. They inspired us then, and they continue to do so today. The BuildPalestine team had a conversation with the group, one year after they were awarded the scholarship.
More than changemakers
The scholarship provided 5 Birzeit University students with scholarships to cover one year’s tuition. We asked the group to share the latest projects they’ve been working on, as well as the status of previous ones. In short, they are all still carrying out their passions, and they continue to be leaders of change in the community. The scholarship was a way to celebrate these changemakers, to amplify the impact of their work, and to encourage other individuals to become changemakers as well.
Fatmeh shared that it was nice to see people visibly support her. “It gives you the push to continue working because you see that you have support. It’s encouraging to hear people talking about what you do.” The students all agreed that crowdfunding provided them with both financial as well as moral support to continue doing what they do.
For Layla, it reinforced her confidence in society, and in the online community in general. “I’ve had a few bad experiences online, but crowdfunding showed me a more positive use of social media in the promotion of the campaign.”
Fatmeh: Continuing to Advocate
“My sisters are the reason I do everything I do. I don’t want them to continue experiencing trauma every time they walk down the street.”
Fatmeh still advocates against the unjust treatment of Palestinians. She continues to work with PalVision in documenting human rights violations. In the past year, she has also worked with schools in Qalandia refugee camp, giving workshops to raise awareness with regards to these violations. She says she already saw the impact 3 workshops later. She noticed an increase in awareness and change in the way students thought. She hopes to be able to work with a larger number of schools in the future.
Malak: Philosophy, origami, and more
Malak is now enrolled in a Master’s program in the UK. And that didn’t stop her from continuing to work for the betterment of Palestine. Since October 2018, and with the help of her team in Ramallah, she’s been organizing philosophy sessions offered to the public. She strives to create a space where people can exchange knowledge and passion for philosophy, and hopes to one day see a philosophy school in Palestine.
Malak’s origami project, on the other hand, has grown to the point where it’s now introduced in schools, universities, and museums such as The Palestinian Museum.
Layla: Helping others while pursuing her passion for architecture
Layla, an architecture student, is currently working with her professors at Birzeit University to turn some of the buildings’ public spaces into more friendly ones. She’s tackling spaces in buildings to turn them into quiet study/meeting areas. She’s also succeeded to re-open student labs, and in getting the university to employ students to supervise the labs.
“I want to leave my mark, I want to benefit others even after I leave university.”
Ameen: Tackling unemployment
Ameen is still running his startup, Tollabco, which has employed over 200 students so far across Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem. Ameen said that obtaining the scholarship helped him further develop Tollabco. He says he can measure the impact of his work by the growing number of people using Tollabco, and by the number of students the application has helped.
If there’s a common theme among these changemakers, it’s passion. They were all successful in turning their passions into impact projects that benefit the community.