Context & The Idea of Establishing the Center

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In its early beginnings in (2005), Madaa Creative Center (MCC) operated in Jerusalem through initiatives led by the local community in Silwan. In (2007) Madaa established its headquarter in Wadi Hilwih neighborhood in Silwan and was officially registered in (2015). 

The idea to establish Madaa Creative Center emerged as a result of the harsh conditions and circumstances experienced by the residents of Silwan. These harsh situations are very similar to the circumstances prevailing in Palestinian refugee camps, in terms of population density and the poor level of services provided by the municipality.

Although the residents of Silwan pay multiple taxes, including the “Arnona” tax, which is a high-value tax that exceeds 70% of average residence’s income, they receive no services in return. The infrastructure is dilapidated; many streets and buildings collapse as a result of Israeli excavations, especially in the northern area of Silwan, i.e. Wadi Hilweh area. Silwan has an estimated population of 55,000 people, and the percentage of children under the age of eighteen exceeds 50% of the total population of Silwan, while 75% of the children live in poverty; these children are deprived of leading a normal life in peace and security and enjoying their childhood.

The community in Silwan, especially children, face daily challenges due to the oppressive measures being implemented against them, such as house demolitions; In 2020 alone, the United Nations recorded 170 demolitions in East Jerusalem alone. As a result of witnessing their own homes demolished, children suffer from trauma and distress, including sharp decrease in school grades and dropping out. More generally children in East Jerusalem live in challenging political and socio-economic conditions; they also suffer from a high dropout rate from schools and lack of recreational facilities and safe areas. The high rates of school dropout make it one of the largest educational dilemmas in East Jerusalem. The total rate of dropout for Palestinian Jerusalemite students in all academic years, i.e. from the 1st-12th grade, is around 40%, most school dropouts occur in secondary school.

The difficult conditions facing Silwan until these days, including arrests, house demolitions, violence and the constant violations of their rights, drove the people of Silwan, who care about their community and town, to establish a center that would assess the town’s needs, and accordingly provide support programs and activities to serve the needs of the community, whether social, cultural, or educational.