This is discussion about PACES: Step Away From Potential Extremism.
Two significant features stand out in your entry, Hani--the financial stability that PACES has been able to achieve in less than a full year of existence and the absence of ego on your part. (As testimony to this, I can't remember any other entrant who declined to provide a personal biography to accompany the entry.)
In addition, your goals of instilling a sense of personal hygiene and avoidance of militancy among Palestinian youth are deserving, and I suspect that your emphasis on gender equity among Palestianian boys and girls has not been eagerly accepted either by some families in Palestine or by everyone in the Palestinian diaspora community in the UK.
You note that you'd like to take two-four teams of youth to Europe this year. Approximately how many young people would that involve, and which country(ies) would you like them to visit? Italy again, or elsewhere?
Thank you for your kind words, and constructive comments. However, I must say that our emphasis on gender equity was well-received within the community in the UK and elsewhere. The only caveat being in very conservative areas in Palestine where we had to engage in "house to house begging". My colleagues went house to house in Hebron pleading with parents to allow their daughters to partake in our programs. It was a tough task but in the end we got our way.
As for the teams this coming summer we hope to take two teams to the mini basketball tournament in Itlay and two more teams to the UK for a football tour.
I was so excited to see your entry. I lived in Palestine some years ago - in Ramallah - and played basketball at the Sarriyet Ramallah with the girls' team there. It was an incredible opportunity and I learned first hand the particular impact that this program had on girls in a setting where freedom is limited by both the occupation and societal expectations of appropriate behavior for girls. I am really interested to know more about the arguments you used to persuade parents to release their girls to play - this is such a common problem all over the world, that I think others would benefit from your insights.
On another note, there are two projects that have been posted on this competition that you may want to look at - one is a sports project serving girls in Bethlehem and a second is Kigali Women's Footballers which addresses trauma through sport. It is inevitable that many of the young people living in the West Bank, Gaza and probably many of the refugee camps across the Arab world have experienced emotional trauma - the founder of the Rwandan program has done quite a bit of work on how sport can be used to address trauma, and its effectiveness as a diagnostic tool of emotional disruption as well. I enourage you to check out their projects.
btw, great title-very catchy
Best of luck with your initiative. I will definitely follow your progress and if I travel to Palestine again, would love to visit your projects.
All the best,
As I wrote in my entry we engaged in "house to house begging" in order to persuade the parents to allow their daughters to join our programs. It was easier to get parents to agree to basketball than to football (part of the social taboo against girls playing the game) and in some instances we had to agree to hold the practice sessions for the girls indoor, which isnt always easy to do. Needless to say, the girls adorn the head-scarves and wear long-sleeved shirts and always cover their legs, but at least they attend religiously (no pun intended). What helped was our reputation for seriousness and more so the fact that most house visits were done by one of our full-time colleagues who is also the captain of the Palestine Woman's National football team. Her charisma and persistance paid off. Of note here is that we only encountered this problem in Jenin, Tulkarem and Hebron.
Small world: the major sponsors of your former club in Ramallah are also one of my main partners in PACES and have just built an indoor basketball arena at the club. Smaller world still: the other entry from Palestine was one of several potential locations we had ear-marked three weeks ago as a potential venue for our programs for next year. We will now wait till this competition is over before making contact lest we create any impression of collusion
As for the Kigali initiative, I agree that we could learn from their experiences. However, as I mentioned in my entry we have forged several relationships with NGOs who have similar experiences with refugees and we are tapping on that for guidance and help.
I hope that you will soon visit Palestine again. It would be a pleasure to show you our programs.
Hi again Hani,
So here is my question for you: it seems the world over that reluctant parents are willing to let their girls play the sports that are associated with their gender (and its all contextual, but nonetheless interesting to me that it is rarely football!). I know your primary focus is not on gender, but I will ask your opinion nonetheless! We have found that there is a greater impact on affecting change in gender dynamics when the sport played by girls is precisely the one society is the one not traditionally associated with girls. On the other hand, I think there are also a lot of benefits to girls playing sports (especially team sports) from an empowerment perspective which is a bit less about challenging societal norms. What are your thoughts on this? I notice that you perservere with pursuing the football option for girls by using the captain of the Palestinian national team.
Thanks so much,
I absolutley agree with you, and that is precisely why I "put my foot down" and refused to give in when parents offered to allow their daughters to join our basketball program as opposed to football. Football is not regarded as a socially acceptable game for girls to play..yet (PACES will do its past to change that). However, in some cases, and as I mentioned previously, even getting girls to play basketball was a challange.
I must add here that we chose basketball and football for a variety of reasons: We wanted team sports to allow the children to develop social skills and interact with one another in a healthy and productive envirnoment where the most skillful of the children and the least [skillfull] could be on the same team and in the same group. This was critical to my thinking in teaching children social skills, team-work and work-ethics. Furthermore, we are morally obligated to maximize the impact of each dollar that we raise and to that end having a team of two coaches per 25 children is more economically effective than trying to nurture swimming or tennis talents.
Have you seen the "Fitness and Dance: Sports for Beautiful Change" entry submitted by Abdelfattah Abusrour? Abdelfattah is also working on sports for social change in Palestine. Here is the link to his entry http://www.changemakers.net/en-us/node/2033 and here is his email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope that the two of you will connect!
We are already have [connected] and we hope to meet during my next trip to Palestine. In the meantime my colleagues will meet with him to exchange ideas.
do you have any plans on getting together kids from Palestine and Israel, like in a soccer competition? Or am I being too idealistic here?
- Jasper Nicolaisen
Free University Berlin
I wondered how long it would take before I was asked that question.
Since I founded PACES last year I have successfully kept it away from any involvement in politics. I have walked away from several "internal" situations in Palestine where politics would have played part in our progrms, and I dont mean on the Palestinian macro level, but on the very micro level within small communities. This is now one very strong "selling-point" for PACES and I want to keep as such.
On the Palestinian-Israeli issue politics and conflict become more complicated, and one has to tread even more carefully. Therefore, regardless of my personal thoughts, or those of fellow trustees and donors, PACES must not take a political stand that is not reflective of the feelings and aspiartions of its constituents. And those feeling are so acute among Palestinians now that taking PACES further above the political fray is not only wise, but very neccessary in my opinion.
Furthermore, our innovation is creating sanctuaries for the children to feel happy, safe and productive within, and to detract from that in any way would be wrong at this stage. The children in our programs need stability and a healthy envirnoment and to introduce an element that might result in an internal conflict for a child might take us many "paces" backward at this stage.
We both thoroughly enjoyed reading about your impressive program. Thanks for submitting it to the competition. Your program is amazing and seems to truly make a difference. We are encouraged by your strong commitment, good understanding and discussion of your target audience’s needs, and sound financial strategy.
We think your application could be even stronger as well as clearer if your outcomes were presented through a logic model. If you are interested, we just recently posted a general piece on the contest criteria – innovation, scale, and impact – that might be helpful to you. (see http://www.changemakers.net/en-us/node/729#comment-2686.)
In addition, we didn’t see any discussion of an outcome study of your program. We think – given your financial resources – that this could really help you “roadtest” your theory of change and ultimately help you improve your program. If you have one, we’d love to see it. In addition, to make your entry even stronger, we’d also be interested in seeing a few more “success stories” about transformed clients.
If you have specific questions on this posting, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Senior Research Scholar of Social Entrepreneurship and Marketing
Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship
Duke University – Fuqua School of Business
MBA Student, Class of 2008
Duke University – Fuqua School of Business
Duke University's Fuqua School of Business
Dear Suzanne and Paul,
When I started the first sets of programs in November of 2006 they were for 400 girls and boys. My intention and hope was to add 200-300 children every year and grow slowly in a methodical, clinical and scientific way that would have afforded me the luxury of an outcome study. However, the rapid success, both in the fund-raising and the expansion of the programs put such issues on the back-burner. That does not mean however that we do not monitor and supervise our programs in the right manner, but it does mean that the ways we monitor our outcome tend to be a bit rudimentary: through feed-back from the centres, the parents and the children themselves. And there is another way we guage our impact and success: in a country that lives under occupation and in the absence of a "real" democracy and therefore absence of serious freedom of expression regarding politics, corruption and the economy, the press tends to let itself loose in areas where there are no "untouchables". Articles and op-ed columns written about PACES are always positive, and the last one referred to us as " The Candle in the Darkness of the Night" in Palestine.
On the local community side we get our feed-back in a yet more crude form if I may: Ramallah has now become one of our biggest sources of funds and it tells me that Palestinian men and women who have their "ears to the ground" see the societal impact of our programs and are very eager to support them.
Our "success stories" are daily and "nameless": everytime we get a boy off the streets and into our programs, and everytime we get a girl out of her parents' house and into our activities we have added value to their day and life.
Having said all the above, I am very open to developing new and better ways and would very much appreciate any guideance and suggestions from you.
I saw your comment on the "nameless" success stories and wanted to share a few thoughts - this is a topic we have discussed a lot at Nike because there is a demand among many donors for "scientific" evaluation providing outcomes linked to objectives, etc. etc. but what is so interesting is that so many of the positive "outcomes" are unintended (credit for this observation to Rolf Schwery - see below) at the planning stage. This is where I think the academic frameworks may fall down a bit.
We work with an evaluator, Rolf Schwery, who has done a lot of work on "most significant change" approach to evaluation and who uses creative evaluation techniques which in some ways are more relevant to Sport which is so immediate and the benefits are visible - seeing truly is believing in this case. Rolf is now working with us and CARE and Mercy Corps to develop a curriculum for "youth in emergencies" which is designed to use sport to build resiliency and normalcy. It might be interesting for you to connect with him. Feel free to use my name (he is based in Switzerland but has done work in places as diverse as Bam, Iran and Columbia): email@example.com
Also, there is another entry by an organization that we work with (Insight - see link below) and they use participatory video techniques as an evaluation tool, along with empowerment communications. Might be interesting for you to connect with them - we love them! http://www.changemakers.net/en-us/node/2811
Best of luck in the finals - I hope you are mobilizing your networks for the voting period!!!
Thank you for your feedback. I will get in touch with Rolf as soon as possible and with "Insight" soon too. I really apprecdiate your advice.
Your programme looks very comprehensive. I'm very interested to see that you are expanding and developing a basketball programme for people with a disability.
I'd like to hear some more about your plans for including people with a disability. What type of barriers do you anticipate when recruiting players and training coaches. Do you expect similar challenges to those you faced knocking on doors to get women to play? Palestine has had a number of athletes entered in the recent Paralympic and Special Olympic World Games so perhaps you could contact these national bodies for support and advice.
I noticed the discussions you have had on monitoring and evaluation. You might be interested in this article from Bob Henley at the Swiss Academy for Development where he lists some tools that are useful in measuring the psychosocial impact such as reslience, self esteem etc.
Also, the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE) have developed a seminar to teach professionals working in post-disaster settings how to design sports programmes for people affected by disaster trauma. There will be a second seminar in November 2008 and it would be fantastic to see a representative from PACES there to share some of your experiences. Check out the website for the latest details or see their competition entry http://www.changemakers.net/en-us/node/3114.
All the best!
Free University Berlin
We are initially planning to start small by providing good quality wheelchairs and coaching to children who most likely are part of the existing communites that we have our programs in. Obviously the more chairs that we can buy and get into Palestine (which in itself is a real challange) the more children will benefit. We are also restricted by the fact that even when we get the chairs into the country we will not easily be able to move them from one centre to another, and therefore we need to leave them in areas where maximum benefit is derived. As for coaching some of our coaches do have experience in this field but as part of our philosophy of up-grading our coaches' abilities we will now add coaching for the handicapped to our internal and external clinics.
On a slightly similar note, we will soon start programs for children who need dialysis. These programs obviously create a different set of challenges but are also needed as these children would otherwise have no chance at doing sports at all.
For both the above I am planning to have non-handicapped and healthy children involved. In a society that regrads illness as a taboo I think that it will be imperative to start teaching ALL the children that the handicapped and those who are not well are just as part of the society as everyone else is.
As for the forthcoming seminar in November, I will try my best to attend, or will ask one of my colleagues to do so.
Thank you for you comments and interest in our work,
Your team is doing good work!
I am part of a new initiative that is working with various 'sports for peace' NGO's. We are a partner with the Asian Football Association and have had football programs in Gaza and Jordan through Play Football Make Peace. Our focus is not limited to football as we have produced 4 international peace sports festival that includes 7 sports. (IPSFestival.org).
We have worked on programs in Palestine, Jordan and Israel with local support teams. One partner is doing a football coach clinic in Jordan, another is seeking to follow up on sports for peace initiatives in the region.
We are looking to set up a small sports for peace 'working' committee to plan upcoming strategy and programs in those countries. We are interreligious, with Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Druzestakeholders. We want to help create an environment of hope and are looking to make relationships with other like minded
One point: We are developing 'sportsmanship education' in various regions of the world. This is designed to show how the lessons learned on the field can help in building trust, relationships and a healthly way of life. We are interested in finding grassroots educators interested in partnering on this long term effort.
Second point: We also have a partner working in Jordan with a goal of improving the quality of coaching in football.
Third point: We also work utilizing the gift of music and culture. Intercultural programs are integrated into the Peace Dream initiative.
If you have a 'local' (Palestine- Jordan based) partner that would be interested in talking with our local representatives and possibly joining a 'sports for peace' working committee, please let us know. The Peace Dream is a variety of programs and NGO's.
Best to all your good work.
Though we advocate non-violence and peace to our children, PACES is not really a "Sports for Peace" organiztion as you put it.
We create sanctuaries for the children to feel safe in, learn and be productive in. As I said in an earlier comment, if we were to introduce a variable that would add stress to the mix, then we would have failed the children.
Do I believe that peace is the ONLY solution? Absolutely. Do I think, given the current climate, that it is imminant? Not at all. And therefore PACES provides a shield from any potential extremism and violence through sports programs and activities to children who would otherwise be on the streets and exposed to such factors. So, we prepare our children for "peace", and when it comes, we will "play".
If and when a real peace deal is concluded, one that is fair to all parties and one that will stand the test of time, then PACES will be at the forefront in normalizing and humanizing the situation between all the children. But till then, and again as I articulated previously, PACES must stay away from taking any steps that will be regarded as political statements.
As far as local partners in Palestine, I have a team on the ground that manages the programs and over-sees the 120 coaches that we have created employment for. As for Jordan, we are about to launch a program outside Amman.
One of our main focus areas is the up-grading and improvement of our coaches' abilities, and we have held internal and external clinics for our coaches, and this might be something that we can develop together.
Thank you for participating in this collaborative competition. We value the time and effort you’ve put forth and we would like to offer you feedback and some thought provoking questions from our Evaluation Team.
PACES’ rapid expansion and commitment to transparency is notable and the scope of its current and planned partnerships is extensive. While the PACES concept of using sports as a sanctuary for children against extremism is not necessarily original, its model is efficient, scalable, and replicable elsewhere.
Please use this input as both potential insights into your innovations, as well as constructive ideas for how to improve or grow your organization.
The Changemakers Evaluation Team