1. Start Now A The program aims to empower women and girls in the 18-25 age group and encourages them to move forward in their lives on personal and professional levels. The goal of the program is to stimulate the potential inside every woman and develop the skills in communication, cooperation, defining goals, and networking. This program enables women to explore and determine their identity by developing their lives in different fields. It gives them the confidence and ability to confront and face their problems by embracing positive thinking and introducing change for the better in their lives. The goals of this program assist women to: Formulate a clearer vision of their personal identity Develop their capacities Communicate and interact in a more effective manner Maximize their self-confidence Define specific goals and work to achieve them Obtain support to bring about required changes Engage in personal development Deal with pressure Write CVs and prepare for recruitment interviews. These skills and achievements are conveyed in a series of meetings – one meeting weekly that includes several activities relevant to the goals of the program alongside interactive and counseling techniques that meet the needs and special characteristics of the group.
2. Start Now B Research has shown that the behavior of teenagers is influenced by simple problems that could be resolved with counseling and advice from parents or the school. However, no serious measures or community programs appear to exist for teenagers to guide them and ensure that they avoid problems that may become serious in the future. Some studies have concluded that there is a shortage of awareness programs to assist teenagers in identifying potential risks, prompting Al-Mortaqa to work with this target group and assist them to overcome their problems. The program targets female teenagers in the 13-17 age group who are affected by social or behavioral problems and psychological pressure. During implementation of the program, female teenagers revealed that they are frequently subjected to violence, harassment, bereavement, and early marriage. Thus, a special course was set up for female teenagers to raise their awareness, enable them to interact positively within their environment, reinforce positive social behavior, provide them with a secure atmosphere, and develop their networking and communication skills. The program focuses on behavioral, social and psychological aspects based on an assessment of the needs of this group. This program is implemented in schools in the form of courses of between 12 and 14 meetings focused on the following: Communication and interaction, including listening skills and concentration Identifying individual characteristics: “Who am I?”, strengths and weaknesses that need further development Acceptance of each other and working as a team The importance of expressing feelings and means of expressing them Impact of words Defining and achieving goals Public speaking skills to build self-confidence. During meetings, techniques introduced to achieve goals include motor-movement activities, examining needs, drama, collective activities, drawing, music, relaxation exercises, and discussion sessions.
3. Rainbow Our children light up our lives and are the pillars of our future. In 2012 Al-Mortaqa created a program to develop daily life skills in children. Implemented in schools under the name Rainbow, the program develops the daily life skills of children psychologically, behaviorally, and intellectually. About the program: Rainbow targets children aged 6-12 years in elementary school stage through 13 meetings that focus on the behavior of the child and their relationship with the surrounding environment. The program focuses on the following: 1- Building self-confidence 2- Expressing feelings and emotions using body language and verbal expression 3- Identifying strengths and discovering talents 4- Effective communication and interaction 5- Making friends 6- Motivation 7- Problem-solving. The program holds two or more meetings for each group to bring together parents, supervisors, and student counselors. These meetings highlight the role of parents and counselors in guiding children and explain the activities that the students participate in. Rainbow includes a special element termed My Safety that comprises four meetings to discuss the safety of the child in society. My Safety educates students about physical, psychological and sexual violence and neglect. It aims to provide them with skills to protect themselves if they are subjected to any form of violence. Several meetings, ranging from four to nine meetings, take place according to the needs of the group and use a form of counseling through play.
4. Me and My Daughter Adolescence is a significant stage in the lives of children and their parents because it marks the transition from childhood to adulthood. Physical, psychological, and social changes occur during this phase; scientists believe that problems arise in communication and interaction between parents and adolescents due to rapid growth during this period. An adolescent has the freedom and ability to look after their own affairs and perform tasks that they could not do as a child. An adolescent may slam the door to express anger, interrupt his parents, or express resentment or rejection. Interaction between parents and adolescents may take unorthodox forms to cater for the sensitivity of this phase. This program targets the mothers of adolescent girls in the 12-15 age group who wish their daughters to acquire skills. The program aims to: 1- Find a safe space for positive dialogue between the mother and her teenage daughter, who can obtain advice in good faith from her mother instead of information from unreliable sources; 2- Mothers learn about sex education and how to instill sound principles in their daughters related to personal development, sexual identity, and other topics; 3- Provide girls with information about adolescence, the changes that take place, and the challenges faced by an adolescent in asserting independence and building self-confidence; 4- Mothers and daughters learn about constructive communication (listening, understanding the other, alternative means to resolve disputes) and build positive relations based on mutual trust; 5- Banish misconceptions and mistaken beliefs by mothers and girls about adolescence with sound scientific facts and awareness. Dedicated counseling sessions are conducted with mothers and girls, in addition to joint meetings between mothers and girls using a variety of interactive counseling methods.
Support and Therapy for Women This program usually consists of 8 to 12 women who meet on a weekly basis for a set period of four months (around 16 meetings). The support group comprises several women who live in similar conditions (social, economic and political) and who exhibit a need for community support because they suffer from marginalization and violence due to their gender. The group offers them an opportunity to experience support, solidarity, and empowerment in a safe space where women can talk freely about their feelings. Within the group, women receive support from the other women and are able to develop skills and exchange experiences. Recurring themes in support groups: Activities that raise awareness about the participants as women and develop their self-confidence and capacities Emotional catharsis by releasing feelings of depression and other emotions Develop skills that assist women to cope with stress Build a support network of individuals Develop assertiveness skills and means of self-expression. The support group differs from other groups because the focus is on exploring the past and examining childhood or traumatic experiences. Participants delve deeply into suppressed feelings and attempt to resolve the pressures they face in their lives. The final meetings focus on aspects of therapy.
Training for Counselors Al-Mortaqa has established a program to train male and female graduates as counselors to assist them to find jobs and work effectively within the community. The program targets graduates in psychology, sociology, education, and individuals interested in the management of counseling groups. The training covers several key areas to develop counseling skills in participants, including: Self-awareness and exploring aspects of childhood Developing the strengths of participants and addressing weak points Learning the principles of counseling for a target group How to set up a counseling program with defined goals that meets the needs of a target group Developing the skills of counselors through experience and observation Developing activities for trainees to assist them to accomplish their goals Encourage graduates to use their skills and engage in voluntary work in the field. The strategy of this program is to link theory with practice: participants undergo the experience of examining needs, counseling and evaluation, led by the female trainer managing the group, as a form of active learning. The female trainer uses counseling techniques such as designing dolls, story-writing, film, and motor activities as creative methods to achieve results. Al-Mortaqa conducted a course to train counselors for groups of children and adolescents. The training included several stages: 1: A stage covering theories of self-awareness, communication skills, the effective counselor, the psychology of the child, and adolescence in the Palestinian context. This stage also includes how to create a counseling program using a variety of counseling techniques that meet the needs of the target groups. It also includes a graduation project for completion in order to enter the next stage; 2: A practical stage that includes an opportunity for field work in schools under the supervision of specialized female counselors. This stage culminates in a certificate of experience from Al-Mortaqa and an opportunity to put into practice a program with logistical and financial support from Al-Mortaqa. Participants fulfill sixty hours of training on the course to complete the graduation requirements. This counts as the practical field experience required by university curricula and Al-Mortaqa engages in community partnership with local universities by providing this specialized professional climate for students to gain experience. The program also enhances the experience and competence of future social workers and counselors in the Palestinian labor market that will safeguard the mental health of members of the community. Al-Mortaqa seeks to develop this program for future counselors further and to bridge the gap between academic theory and practical application on the ground. The cascading of skills from the counselor to the participants contributes to developing capacities and skills.
Counseling for Female Teachers in Schools Both male and female teachers face various forms of stress that have an impact on their performance. In their social context, teachers may find themselves working in undesirable conditions that are detrimental to their private and professional lives. This program aims to alleviate stress through counseling techniques and other methods in a series of weekly meetings that allow teachers to express their feelings, release stress, explore and identify their inner selves, cope with pressure, learn how to deal with students of different age groups, and positive thinking. They also discuss different forms of teaching, successful methods of class discipline, strengthening ties with colleagues, and the importance of relaxation in our lives. Previous group meetings contributed to building good relations between faculty members. Many female teachers said the meetings had helped them to release the stress they faced in their career and allowed them to explore and identify their strengths and weaknesses. During teaching, teachers were noticeably less hostile to their female students, they stopped shouting in the classroom, and introduced positive alternatives to dealing with students and problems in the school through films and activities. They started to explore new methods of dealing with stress and were able to express their feelings more constructively. As tension and stress were alleviated, the teachers started to propose new ideas for schools.
Parenthood Program The family is a crucial psychological and social haven for the individual. An individual raised in a cohesive family based on dialogue, understanding, love, and a style of democratic parenthood, has fewer psychological problems, behavioral disorders or social problems. This program helps to create a sound healthy personality capable of motivation and success. A series of sessions to examine the needs of the target groups, whether children, adolescents or parents, revealed an urgent need for a program dealing with parenthood, problems faced in raising children, tackling misconceptions, and creating a safe space to release stress resulting from parental responsibilities. The program aims to replace stress with positive energy as a tool for addressing problems. The program comprises eight meetings in an open group; each meeting has a separate theme. All themes focus on the issue of parenthood, ways of raising children, how to answer embarrassing questions raised by children, and the psychology of child growth. The goals of the meetings are adapted to the needs of each group separately, in addition to implementing the general objectives of the program. The program is based on a strategy of discussion and the exchange of experiences between members of the group, participation in a safe environment, physical movement, art, brainstorming, watching films, and reading stories. The program provides written reference material on the Internet about child rearing that parents can access. Al-Mortaqa runs several of these groups in cooperation with a number of schools in Jerusalem and with other centers and organizations. The goals of the program have been successful with several social groups, including parents, and also promotes male engagement in raising children because the father is a vital pillar within the family. Feedback and evaluation from participants has been positive and encouraging. Participants have also disseminated information and skills that they acquired to other parents who were curious and enthusiastic to learn more about Al-Mortaqa and its services. As a result, the scope of services delivered to the community has been expanded and is evidence of public confidence in the Al-Mortaqa organization.
Public Workshops As part of the awareness-raising strategy implemented by Al-Mortaqa targeting young females in schools, the organization adopted this program following evaluation of the programs implemented over the previous five years. This program highlights issues of concern to young females and offers a safe space for dialogue with a counselor. The girls are assisted to develop tools for positive interaction with their families and communities through modern and innovative counseling techniques dedicated to developing the perceptions of the target group. Meetings use methods of counseling such as dialogue, watching films, and collective activities that fulfill the goals of the program. The program aims to provide teenagers with the positive skills required for healthy interaction between them and society in the following ways: 1- Creates a safe area for discussion of issues pertinent to teenagers; 2- Corrects misconceptions held by teenagers on some issues and enables them to obtain basic information about this stage of their lives; 3- Provides students with sound social skills that enable them interact with their communities; 4- Encourages teenagers to act as partners in raising the awareness of classmates by leading campaigns.
Al-Mortaqa Live on Air Al-Mortaqa extends its outreach to new target groups through innovative techniques and awareness programs. The new Al-Mortaqa radio program broadcasts live and addresses counseling, social, and psychological issues targeting parents, teachers and counselors. A variety of social issues are posed in a discussion form with interaction from listeners on air. Each episode raises questions and gives advice on different themes such as childhood, how to deal with the challenges faced by teenagers, marital relationships and their impact on children, bereavement and methods for self-help or to help others to overcome bereavement problems. The program is broadcast every Wednesday at 14:00 and re-broadcast once again at 20:00; it is also broadcast every Thursday at 07:00 in partnership with the first Palestinian radio station in the heart of Jerusalem: Voice of Peace Radio on 87.8FM.