our work

Gaza Girls

This program is dedicated to 2004 Young Leader Bessan Abuelaish from Gaza, who was tragically killed. Her bright light shines on through the next generation of courageous women living in Gaza. Read more about Bessan and her legacy below.

“This program gave me a safe space to share things I’ve never talked about before.” – Gaza Girl, class of ’21

We understand the circumstances in Gaza are unique. That’s why we created an innovative program in 2019 to reach young women in the region by honoring the limitations of travel and opportunity they face. These otherwise isolated young women are connected across borders and empowered to become local leaders of change and peace.

  • Connect virtually for 10 weeks with Palestinian peers in the West Bank and 48-Arabs
  • Join a safe space to build understanding, gain confidence, and inspire action
  • Find strength in peer-to-peer support network
  • Gain leadership, compassionate listening, and authentic speaking skills
  • Interact and share personal experiences with teenage peers in Santa Fe participating in our Peace Ambassador program

Some background on the Gaza Strip:

  • Home to a population of approximately 1.9 million people, including some 1.4 million Palestinian refugees
  • Under continuous blockade from the Israeli government since 2007

Program Information

Online Application

We are in the process of developing the 2022 Gaza Girls program and will begin accepting applications in the Spring 2022. Details coming soon. If you are interested in joining or learning more, please email [email protected].

Participant Criteria

Palestinian women, including Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank, and Arabs from 48, between the ages of 18-25, who are passionate about social change and peacemaking and who are interested in connecting with their peers to make a positive impact in their communities and the world.

In 2004, Bessan Abuelaish, a 15-year-old from Gaza, came to our camp in New Mexico. Despite the many hardships she had faced during her young life, Bessan refused to give up hope for peace. Five years later, Bessan was tragically killed in the fighting between Israel and Gaza, along with her two sisters and a cousin.

Bessan’s (1988-2009) memory lives on through her father Izzeldin Abuelaish, a medical doctor who worked in Israeli hospitals, and who published a book in remembrance of her called I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity. Tomorrow’s Women co-founder and filmmaker, Debra Sugerman created the documentary film Broken as a tribute to her legacy as a peacemaker. The Gaza Girls program is dedicated to Bessan and all those affected by war and violence.

Image: Malak Mattar