Having spent years living and working in Palestine, and the occupied West Bank, it’s a place that remains close to my heart. But it’s also a place I became acquainted with through volunteering at first.
When I was younger, I always knew I wanted to visit Palestine, but if I was to visit, I had to feel that I was at least contributing while being there.
After all, this is an occupied nation where Palestinians cannot easily leave, or leave at all, and who am I to just fly in and fly out whenever I want.
What my volunteering experience in Palestine did, was give me a much better perspective of life in occupied Palestine, one that I could not have got from being a tourist. It made me more interested in the country, the politics, it gave me the opportunity to directly speak and learn from Palestinians – an invaluable experience that I remain grateful for.
There are many different volunteer opportunities in Palestine (which you’ll see further down), from working with NGOs on human right issues, to educating children, to protecting families and farmers from Israeli soldiers during olive-picking season.
However if Israel suspects that you are flying in to the region to volunteer in Palestine or to spend an extended amount of time in the occupied territories, they will likely ban your entry. For tips on how to avoid that, see our post by clicking here.
With that in mind, I wanted to put together a list of current volunteer opportunities in Palestine and the West Bank, in case anyone reading this is having similar thoughts to what I had a few years ago.
Al Rowward Center
Home of hopes, creativity and dreams – that’s what Al Rowward claim to be, and it’s hard to disagree. This cultural center based in Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, gets local youth involved in theater productions, teaches them, runs media courses, vocational training, and much more. The aim, is to give some of Palestine’s most disadvantaged youth skills that will take them places. The center is frequently looking for volunteers, and it’s easily to apply online with them – just click here.
The Freedom Theatre
The theatre remains one of the only places for Palestinians to develop the arts in the north West Bank, and works with refugees to put on productions from around the world as well as ones that focus on the occupation of Palestine. They often take on volunteers who have skills in the arts.
Holy Land Trust
The Holy Land Trust, based out of Bethlehem, operates a summer volunteering programme called the ‘Palestine Summer Encounter’. This organization will pair you with local NGOs in the area, or have you helping out in the all-important olive harvest. On top of this they will sort out Arabic classes for you. You can find more information on their website.
Ibdaa Cultural Center
Ibdaa‘s mission is pretty clear – to create a positive and healthy atmosphere for children who live in Bethlehem’s Dhesiheh Refugee Camp. Something the children living under a brutal military occupation don’t have. Through art, dance, music, media, and education, Ibdaa look to make children’s lives as normal and fun as possible – and they’re always looking out for volunteers with the right skill sets to make it happen!
International Solidarity Movement (ISM)
Probably one of the best known groups for volunteers working on the ground in Palestine, ISM operates as an NGO that effectively puts bodies in between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians. If there’s a protest, ISM volunteers will be there, loud and vocal, documenting any abuses taking place, as well as actively attempting to stop Israeli soldiers from carrying out arrests.
International Women’s Peace Service
IWPS is often on the look out for female volunteers who will support local Palestinians in their non-violent struggle against Israeli occupation, as well as document human rights abuses taking place. Your job is basically to give a level of international “protection” to civilians in their day-to-day lives, in the hope that Israeli soldiers and settlers are more likely to leave locals alone if there’s a non-Palestinian with them, witnessing everything that is happening. You should be willing to volunteer for at least one month. If you’re interested, you can check out their website by clicking here.
Karama Organization operates out of Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem and works with young people in the camp to empower them. Karama is always on the look out for volunteers who will help teach English, can help and coordinate their social media channels, or if you have a special skill – your an artist or musician for example – then come and teach it!
Palestinian Circus School
This NGO is exactly what it sounds like – a fun organization that is bringing a breath of fresh air to Palestinian youth who often have to deal with incredible trauma. However the success of the Palestinian Circus School has taken their performers overseas, and with it their stories of living under occupation. If you have circus skills, then they’re are often on the lookout for volunteers to join them in Palestine. However they also need volunteers who can help with translations, or taking photos, videos, and admin work.
Palestine News Network
They are a little unconventional, but Bethlehem’s Palestine News Network is always on the look out for native or fluent English speakers that can write news stories from their office in Bethlehem. Expect to learn a lot about Palestine and the occupation, though you should be fairly knowledgeable to begin with if you wish to intern or volunteer here.
Project Hope is based in Nablus in the West Bank, and is always on the look out for people wanting to volunteer in Palestine. They work with Palestinian children and youth providing educational projects – such as language classes – as well as sports, and teaching technology.
In particular they are looking for volunteers who can teach English, filmmaking, and football classes. If you have what it takes, you should definitely get in touch and start your volunteering experience in Palestine! Check out their website by clicking here.
Based in Nablus at an-Najah University, the Zajel International Youth Exchange Program is always on the look out for people who wish to volunteer in Palestine teaching English. Definitely a worthwhile NGO to consider, you can find out more about Zajel by checking out their website.