In January, one of our youth grant recipients coordinated a project that left an impact not only on them but also on a marginalized group in society. The Spark Junior team is the creation of a previous training OEP sponsored. In June last year, Kingian Nonviolence Fellow Haya Saleh collaborated with the Organizing Fellow, Hadil Alhayek, to give 25 participants in Gaza, Palestine, Agape Satyagraha training in a framework created by OEP that highlights peacebuilding and conflict resolution techniques and methods. The program introduces children and teenagers to understanding emotions, controlling reactions, communication strategies, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and Kingian Nonviolence frameworks.
Spark Junior consists of five teens who, during the Agape Satyagraha training, were assigned to choose a conflict and create a suitable solution. During the training, they focused on increasing youth’s social engagement in their local community through voluntary work.
On the final day, OEP’s Youth and Young Adult Peace Formation Director, Marie Benner-Rhoades, announced that Spark Junior could bring their ideas to life by applying for the OEP Community Engagement Grants for Youth Groups. With the consultation of OEP interns Anesu Makufa, Youth & Young Adult Peace Formation Organizer, and Former Kingian Nonviolence Strategy intern Carla Campillo Masip and the direct supervision of the Palestine Justice Organizer at the time, Haya Saleh, they were successful in their application for the grant. With OEP’s consultation, Spark Junior chose to have their first community engagement project directed towards orphans in the local Gazan community.
Spark Junior wanted to help 15 youth participants from a local orphanage in Gaza, Palestine, to train those youth in a craft they could profit from since orphans tend to be marginalized in society. The youth were offered training in jewelry making using simple materials that could be found everywhere, like wires and beads. The training was meant to empower those youth financially and introduce them to some of the KNV Principles the Spark team learned in their previous training in June 2022. Their primary source of inspiration was KNV Principle 2: “the beloved community is the framework of the future.”
Spark Junior contacted a jewelry trainer to guide the youth, and they held six sessions with 15 main participants, five team members, a jewelry trainer, and Haya Saleh present. The outcomes were abundant. The training equipped the youth with handcrafting skills to help them support themselves financially by using what they learned to create accessories. The trainer also assisted the youth in marketing their products. Although the training targeted those 15 orphans, we successfully engaged 22 orphans alongside the orphanage staff. We were able to touch base on some of the KNV principles alongside creating conversations on how they can apply what they learn in real-life situations. The initial goal of this outreach was to blend a marginalized group of society with other youth their age to help build their confidence, self-esteem, social skills, and conflict resolution techniques. This goal was not only reached but surpassed.
The Spark Junior participants were able to learn project management skills by creating a proposal, requesting funding, implementing the project, and seeing the impact of their work in their community. Secondly, the theme of collaboration for a common cause was emphasized through each interaction and step of the project, primarily through the KNV principle, “The Beloved Community is The Framework for The Future.” Although everything did not always go according to plan, everything was accomplished with grace and an attitude of continuous learning. All the goals sought out were met through hard work, determination, and a desire to impact the society around them positively.
If you are connected with a youth group that wants to make an impact in your community, you can apply for our Community Engagement Grants for Youth Groups. Applications are reviewed as they are received on a rolling basis.