IRADEH (a better life for elderly Palestinians)
Contributed by This Week In Palestine on 02.11.2007:
By Montaha Odetallah
A group of Palestinian volunteers took the initiative to establish a non-governmental, non-profit association under the title of IRADEH, which targets elderly Palestinians and aims to retrieve their lost rights and lives.
A year ago, six of us (the volunteers) were sitting as usual in one of Ramallah’s coffee shops and discussing normal issues when suddenly we realized that neither our different backgrounds nor our different personalities prevented us from having the same concerns and interests, especially as we dealt with the pain and worry of taking care of an elderly family member, neighbour, or friend.
That evening the idea was born. We were determined to take the first step towards solving the problems of elderly Palestinians, to contribute to honouring those who made our existence possible and, most of all, to be part of the solution rather than the problem.
Our unintentional meeting that evening has changed our lives and those of the elderly forever; somehow we were guided through the long, dark tunnel of establishing IRADEH, and in July 2007, we received legal authorization from the Ministry of Interior.
We chose the name IRADEH (which means “will”) to reflect our determination and willingness to create a Palestinian democratic society that respects and honours its elderly. And now the challenge has begun. Our dream is ready to be realized, and we have begun to take steps toward improving the situation of older Palestinians. The first step was to create an army of volunteers.
The association’s programmes aim to foster positive relationships among the elderly themselves as well as between older persons and their families and older persons and society. Efforts are being made to form advocacy groups for the elderly that can lobby the government to pass legislation to protect the rights of the elderly.
Because we believe in our dream and because the word impossible doesn’t exist in our vocabulary, we have been able to implement several activities. During the holy month of Ramadan, for example, we invited a number of elderly Palestinians to leave their nursing homes to attend two Ramadan banquets. During those evening meals, we realized that no matter how little or how much one does, if it comes from the heart, it will be a success and will lead to a meeting of souls.
One of our current goals is to help design the first national strategic plan for the protection of Palestinian elderly persons. Our shock in discovering the miserable conditions of many elderly people has led us to try to change the situation at every level of society.
All Palestinians should take responsibility for protecting those who have no one but God and us to rely on. We all have a common mission. IRADEH would like all Palestinians to consider this to be a personal call (sarkha), a call to each person’s conscience. Together we can help those who helped us a long time ago.
To take the first step to help the elderly today will pave the road for YOU to be helped tomorrow …
Please don’t hesitate to contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by phone at 02-297-4410, 052-220-6383, or 059-987-8123; or by fax at 02-297-4411.
Montaha Odetallah is 23 years old and graduated from Birzeit University with a major in English and a minor in translation. She is an activist and volunteer in several Palestinian charitable associations. She lives and works in order to achieve the Palestinian dream of having one democratic and free Palestine.