Baladna – the Association for Arab Youth – is the largest independent NGO working with young Palestinians citizens of Israel. Set up in 2001, Baladna’s goal is to enable and strengthen the understanding of Arab Palestinian youth in Israel and their use of the principles of democracy, gender equality, pluralism, tolerance and community building. The Association’s past work has addressed social issues such as sectarianism, “honour killings” and communal violence.
The Youth Leadership project funded by the Asfari Foundation aims to identify and equip a new generation of motivated, dynamic young Palestinian civil society actors, link them with peers, and encourage them to be engaged citizens in their community. In 2015, the Asfari Foundation funded Baladna’s training for 16 youth leaders of university age on social issues, networking and group facilitation. The youth leaders then formed high school youth groups in their towns and villages and organised meetings to discuss issues relevant to Arab young people in Israel, such as their Palestinian identity, social equality, democratic values and behaviour, and human rights. Each group selected a high school community service project which Baladna helped design and implement. The Foundation is supporting this project again in 2016-17, helping an additional 12 Palestinian university students to gain leadership skills and engage approximately 250 young Palestinians in their communities. These activities empower university and high school students through training, develop their social and civil society awareness, and support a future generation of Palestinian civil society leaders and networks.