In the dry Jordan Valley, Jericho lies like a green oasis between barren mountains. Here, in the middle of the world's oldest city, the future is being built for 280 young people from all over Palestine.
Electricians, carpenters and graphic designers are trained at the YMCA's vocational school. Training is also given in agriculture, English and entrepreneurship.
Palestinian youth come here to stay and go to school for a whole year. Many of them are refugees in their own country, and many come from troubled backgrounds with violence, intoxication and difficulties with staying in a regular school. Most have been sent here by their families, hoping that a year at this school can guarantee them a more stable life and brighter prospects.
"Some people struggle so much when they come here. But after a month's time, we start to see changes. As they learn their subject, things start to go very well," says NCA's partner organisation, YMCA East Jerusalem's General Secretary, Peter Nasir.
"For us, this is completely natural and something we have a strong desire to do. Christians and Muslims stand together and help one another, and we want to help these young people and give them hope. This is also an age group that no one else takes care of," explains Nasir.
There is little doubt that the school will succeed. School statistics give every reason to hope for the future with 85% getting jobs within six months after they finish school. Pupils work actively to promote themselves, and now with even have their own app.
"Through the app, employers can find the skilled people they need and it is reaching more and more people. But there is currently no widespread culture for mobile apps here, so launching such innovative projects is challenging," admits school principal Samah Shalian.
Not all the students at the school are the same age. A number of older adults also sit on the school bench, including several women's projects where women receive vocational education and help to start their own business. For a long time, recruiting for these projects was a challenge because many women had to stay home with their children. The school found the solution.
"We wanted to give women a chance. So we started our own daycare at the school to make it easier for women to get their education. That way, they can take their kids with them and have them play here while they are at school," says school principal Shalian.
Photos: Norwegian Church Aid / Håvard Bjelland