Palestine MMA is looking ahead to a positive 2014 as we push forward with our efforts to establish a program that works to support the aspirations of Palestinian children regardless of their background or ability. Our aim has always been to establish something that is both empowering and sustainable – as such, we continue to work hard to establish the foundations to ensure continued success for many years to come.
There were highlights and challenges in 2013
The highlight was definitely the generosity shown by so many wonderful people around the world that donated what they could towards ensuring we can acquire a boxing ring, to help our athletes better prepare for international competitions. The overwhelming support saw us raise nearly $7000 USD and those funds are still being held in trust as we work out the logistics of purchasing the ring and actually getting it to the West Bank. We hope to make significant progress on that front in the first half of 2014.
The challenges however remain. The costs of acquiring a gym in the Ramallah district still seem out of reach. In one respect we are glad to see some economic development in Ramallah, but on the other hand, the increase in prices (given the economic realities) and the concentration of wealth to a privileged minority still leaves a significant strain on the majority of the population which can not often afford or access basic services, of which access to ongoing recreational opportunities and a spring board to sporting success is one.
The political climate and the under development of the sporting sector in general makes the environment to build something sustainable significantly more challenging – we are however hopeful that we can continue to work through the issues and overcome them in time. Our vision has always been to build something of real significance for Palestine and not just run sporting programs like so many other NGO’s – it is with real conviction that we pursue our vision and we continue to seek creative solutions to unique problems.
With the Palestinian population increasingly dependent on NGO’s and international aid, our view is to work towards solutions that negate the populations dependence on foreign aid and works towards a climate of greater autonomy and independence. Palestine MMA continues to be driven as a non-profit initiative, but we continue to work towards applying a business model that will continue to ensure its financial sustainability and independence long-term (think YMCA).
We understand this takes time and the challenges we face, both from internal and external factors are immense – we are committed however to controlling our own destiny and continuing to work in the best interests of the local population and with the support of our family and friends, we have been able to take significant steps in the right direction.
Where are we now?
Palestine MMA has been able to support limited programs in the West Bank so far, predominantly in the sport of Boxing. We also sponsored a team to travel to Jordan to participate in the Arab Boxing Championships.
Through our Australian international partners, Rise Global and with the support of the Australian government, Palestine MMA was also able to support several individuals in travelling to Australia to part take in an exchange program working at establishing people to people links, enhancing their capacity and building ongoing cooperation between the Australian and Palestinian populations – we hope that these relationships continue to bear fruit, particularly in the continued exchange of knowledge and ideas.
Palestine MMA is still not established in its own gym in the West Bank however. The challenges in establishing this have been immense – issues surrounding resourcing, staffing, political climate, bureaucracy and red tape among other things have hindered progress in this area. We are currently re-examining our general approach and expect to establish a tangible alternative shortly. The focus is still very much on establishing an exclusive facility that can accommodate a whole range of programs and continues to serve our broader vision and mission.
The Year Ahead
2014 is turning out to be an exciting year for Palestine MMA. We are currently working with Australian design firm Street Fresh Digital Media, who continue to be a strong supporter, providing world class design and marketing services pro-bono. We are currently re-visiting the Palestine MMA branding with a view to providing a more polished look in line with the feedback we have received from our dear friends over the last couple of years. So expect to see some significant changes to our branding and website in the first quarter of 2014.
We are also working very hard to establish a training facility and launching broad based community programs, community outreach is still very much at the heart of what we do. We expect this to be the first step in a longer term vision to contribute to all aspects of Palestinian life, through the medium of sport. We are currently pursuing a very specific line of enquiry and we hope to be able announce something significant in the first half of 2014.
We would like to thank all our supporters, past and present for the immense patience they have shown us as we continue to embark on this journey. We truly believe that like the arts, sport offers a powerful unifying force that can continue to inspire, education and develop a whole new generation of talented young people.
We admit that at times it has been quite disheartening and challenging, but we are eternally grateful for the individual few that have truly gone out of their way in their support of our collective vision – it is their support, inspiration and encouragement that keeps us going.
We will leave you with the infamous words of Rocky Balboa “It’s never about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward”
Please stay in touch with us, we love hearing from you and we look forward to providing you with more updates as they come to hand.
- Michael Dahdal