Beit Sahour has a number of local institutions and associations that provide services to various segments of society such as children, youth, and women…etc. Down listed are a various institutions that provide many services:
• Arab Catholic Society:
Established in 2004 by 24 people of different intellectual backgrounds and represents the Christian Latin families of Beit Sahour. The society has grown since then and currently includes 300 registered members. The main driving force behind establishing the Society was the desire to meet the local needs of the community and to play an active role in society, in addition to joining other local Christian societies and organizations in order to enhance their role in the societal and national arenas.
• Islamic Charitable Society:
Established in 1931, the Islamic Charitable Society is a local non-profit NGO that provide services to Muslim residents of Bethlehem, through the provision of material support and assistance to needy families as well as social and educational services, and leisure and sports services for the youth. The Society also plays a role in setting social disputes. Moreover, the Society has a kindergarten for children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old, a primary school, a computer center, a karate center, a lectures center and a hall for different meetings and events.
• Arab Orthodox Cultural Club (AOC):
It was established in 1963 with a general assembly of 180 members. The club is located in downtown Beit Sahour. Currently, there are more than 1,800 members ranging in age from 18 to 75; of whom 30 percent are women. Membership includes both Christians and Muslims. The AOC, as a non-profit, local, community organization, is the largest in Beit Sahour. Its objectives are: providing social, cultural, and recreational opportunities to the general population of Beit Sahour, providing local youth with opportunities for constructive use of free time, offering leadership training for youth, and providing opportunities for intercultural experiences through participation in international camps and events.
• The Cultural Youth Club:
It was established in 1963 to introduce youths to different aspects of life such as sports, culture, society and art. The club is an active and permanent member in the Union of Football, Basketball, Marathon and Chess. It maintains good relations with Ipoli Club in Italy, and Report Depok in France. The club also has cooperative relationships with most of the clubs in the West Bank. The Club offers the following sport teams and activities:
v The Football team: Internationally, two of the Club’s players will represent Palestine; one in Qatar and the other in Germany.
v The Basketball team.
v The Marathon; the Club usually holds an annual marathon, which is well known locally and internationally. The Club also participated in both the Annual International Race and the Peace Race Conference held in Sweden.
v Cultural activities and social activities.
· Edward Saed National Conservatory of Music:
In 1990, five Palestinian musicians and music teachers conducted a study on the status of music in Palestine upon a request by the Welfare Association. The preliminary findings of the study convinced the team that there was an urgent need to establish a music school, to fill the huge gap in music education within the Palestinian society. In 1993, after three years of concerted efforts the conservatory was launched as the National Conservatory of Music, falling under the umbrella of the Board of Trustees of Birzeit University, who offered the Conservatory premises in the University Board building in Ramallah.
In October of that year, the first branch of the Conservatory opened in Ramallah. There were 40 students, three part-time teachers, a secretary, and a volunteer director – one of the co-founders. A few years later, the Conservatory opened two other branches in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and in summer of 2010 it launched the Nablus branch. In September 2004 and as a tribute to the invaluable intellectual and cultural contributions to humanity of the late Dr. Edward Said, an honorary member of the Board, the name of the Conservatory was officially changed to The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music. It has a big branch now in Beit Sahour in the city center.
• Al Ruwwad Art Center:
It was established in 1989 as a local non-profit NGO that seeks to promote Palestinian national heritage, in particular dabka (traditional dance) and traditional songs. The Center has formed two dabka groups that often participate at local events.
• Arab Women Union Society:
It was established in 1956 as a local NGO. The Union’s aim at the time was to provide a kindergarten and nursery for the town’s needy children, in addition to providing classes for women on topics such as cooking, childcare, and women’s health. In 1987, Beit Sahour Special Education Center for Children began offering its services to the community. The Centre helps to prepare the handicapped to adapt to the mainstream environment by providing help in special education, self-help skills, daily living activities, behavioral difficulties and speech therapy. Moreover, The Arab Women Union also runs a hostel which provides a wonderful place for guests to stay when visiting Beit Sahour. Income generated from the hostel is used to help support various Union run projects.
• Beit Sahour Elderly Club:
It was established in 1984 by a group of local women with the purpose of providing care for the elderly in Beit Sahour. In 2001, with the assistance of many institutions, the Club was able to open a new branch with more services. The center’s mission is to help the elderly in this war-torn area to get in touch with life again, and to enjoy some happy moments in their final years. The center works every day to fulfill this mission through its objectives and activities. The following resources are provided to its approximately 140 members: a shared breakfast program, a hot lunch program, social activities, health and cultural lectures, health care (both on-site and physician referral), physical fitness and twice-monthly recreational and cultural outings. The Club also provides laundry service to health care facilities in the area, which employs some of its elderly members and provides them with an income.
• Beit Sahour Women’s Club:
The Beit Sahour women’s club was founded in 1992 by an active group of women from the town. Currently, the general assembly consists of 154 women and a nine member board of directors. The center mission is identified as a medium of expansion in service of women and creating a space where they can get together, discuss their needs and plan and execute activities and programs that serve their issues.
• Cultural Center for the Palestinian Child (CCPC):
It was established in 1992 by a group of women affiliated with the Women’s Committees for Social Work (WCSW) and a group of professional men from Beit-Sahour. CCPC was founded with the following objectives:
§ To cultivate the reading skills that has not received enough attention due to the lack of public libraries.
§ To create a healthy environment for the children to interact and exchange ideas in a safe place.
§ To develop a community network with families, schools, institutions and other concerned people.
§ To provide children with modern educational facilities unavailable in most schools and homes such as; computers and audio-visual materials.
§ To encourage the children to learn about children issues and conditions all over the world.
The CCPC contains a children’s library, playroom and recreational section, audiovisual room, and music room. Within its facilities, the CCPC offers children with educational courses in Arabic, English, Mathematics and Computer training. In addition to summer activities such as: summer camps, sports, trips, music, contests, arts, painting, etc.
• Alternative Information Center:
It was established in 1984 by the initiative of a group of Palestinians and Israelis. AIC’s efforts focus on resisting colonization, supporting citizens’ right of return and establishing the independent state. The AIC defends citizens’ rights against Israeli racist policies. AIC also has a branch in Jerusalem. The AIC has many programs and activities including: youth program which helps to raise awareness and skills through training courses, women's program which helps to raise women's awareness of reality through meetings and lectures, the settlement program which provides reports on the attacks of settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the media project which aims at providing media and institutions with alternative information on official Occupation media.
The Young Men Christian Association is a non-profit NGO established in 1965 in a tent in Aqabat Jaber Refugee Camp near Jericho in order to work with all sectors of Palestinian society without discrimination. It aims to achieve comprehensive youth development and promote principles of justice, peace and tolerance within the local community. Its main programs include rehabilitation services offered by teams that aim to improve social resources development within the Palestinian community. Its programs include: the Departments Program, the Vocational Training Center, the Rehabilitation Program, and the Women Training Program (WTP). Moreover, Beit Sahour branch of the East Jerusalem YMCA offers the following activities: the Rehabilitation Program for injured of the intifada and victims of torture, initiatives supports, and Youth Sport Center, which includes indoor and outdoor activities, activities for people with special needs, and camps.
• The Palestinian Center for Rapprochement among People (PCR):
It was established in 1988 as a local non-profit NGO that aims to defend the Palestinian cause locally and internationally. It relies on volunteers to make-up 70% of the human resources needed in community projects. The Center works with lobbying groups to familiarizes youth with the political atmosphere. The following are PCR's main areas of interest:
Community service: serving the local Palestinian community to remain strong during the hardships of occupation policies and sharing in the development the community. The PCR also focuses on activating the youth in community service and development.
Peace and Reconciliation: PCR has a genuine commitment and a long history of working for peace. Dialogues aimed at developing mutual understanding and activating participants to work for peace and justice are high on its agenda. The PCR facilitates education and training for peace and reconciliation.
The International Middle East Media Center: PCR has established a media center that aims to provide alternative news reports and features to replace the existing reporting controlled by the corporate media.
• ANAT Folk and Cultural Center:
It was established in 1993 as a local women’s NGO that works in the fields of training, development and education. Women, children, youth, and ex-prisoners are the center’s target group. The Center seeks to encourage women to be self-reliant and financially independent. The Center helps to provide local and international markets with Palestinian embroidery products.
• Jadal Center for Culture and Development:
It was established in 2001, Jadal Center for Culture and Development was formed to improve the social awareness of local society. In this regard, the Center offers a variety of activities including workshops, literature evenings, summer camps, films and training courses.
• Palestine Wildlife Society:
an active non-profit organization that researches nature conservation in Palestine and works to raise awareness in the Palestinian community. Its mission is the “conservation and enhancement of Palestine biodiversity & wildlife.” The Palestine Wildlife Society was established in 1999 as the first of its kind in the area. The wildlife society has achieved international recognition through organizations such as Birdlife International, United Nation of Convention to Combat Desertification- UNCCD, Euronature (Germany), Ornithological Society for the Middle East -OSME-UK and OISCA- Japan International. The society’s mission is attained through the following objectives:
o Conservation and management of Species and Habitats.
o Education and promotion of Wildlife and Nature.
o Active participation and involvement of local communities in Conservation Movement and sustainable development of resources.
• Palestinian Center for Public Opinion:
It was established in 1994 by a group of Palestinian academics and intellectuals. Its principle aims are to strengthen democracy and build a constructive Palestinian civil society. The Center focuses on several social, economic and political issues of great importance in the Palestinian society. During the current Palestinian uprising, the center has conducted a variety of polls, the results of which have been distributed both locally and internationally. All survey results and reports are translated into different languages, such as English, German, French and Hebrew. The Center’s objectives are:
ü Promoting and disseminating freely expressed views of the Palestinian people on economic, social, political and cultural issues by applying scientific and empirical methods.
ü Carrying out studies and issuing publications which contribute to the welfare of society.
ü Holding seminars and workshops on topics of interest to the public in order to enhance their awareness of human rights.
ü Enhancing the publics’ consciousness and level of dialogue in the realms
ü Economic policies, elections, democracy and women’s issues.
• The Holy Land Handicrafts Cooperative Society:
It was established in 1981 and comprised of 36 member workshops in Bethlehem area. The Society’s Main activities are: a qualified active export department, direct sale exhibitions and
Christmas markets in Europe, and training courses for cooperative members and associations. It also owns and operates a retail souvenir shop at the Shepherd's Field. The Society’s Memberships are: IFAT, International Fair Trade Association (member since 1991), Fair Trade Organization, Paltrade (Palestine Trade Center), and the European Palestinian Chamber of Commerce.
• Alternative Tourism Group:
It was established in 1995 to increase international awareness of the Palestinians issues. This NGO also offers tours in Palestine that promote and identify Palestinian heritage.
• Palestinian-Greek Friendship Society:
It was established in 1992 in Jerusalem, and since then it’s working on expanding its activities to include a number of Palestinian cities, it succeeded in establishing three branches in 1995 in the cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Gaza. Over the past ten years it was involved in many activities and events on different occasions; receiving delegations, a cultural and artistic performances, social and recreational activities, exhibitions, symposia and courses in the education of the Greek and Arabic languages. One of the most important aims of the society is the mutual understanding of the Palestinian and Greek civilizations, culture and traditions, in addition to promoting cooperation and exchanges in the cultural, technical, economic and social spheres in order to preserve the distinctive historical relations that bind the two friendly countries and develop to the highest levels.
• Palestinian Center for Research and Cultural Dialogue (PCRD):
It was established in 2003 by a group of Palestinian academics in the West Bank, as a non-profit
NGO whose mission is to promote cultural and religious dialogue, trusting that this is an ideal way to bridge gaps between nations. PCRD works on four major tracks: dialogue, education, research, and voluntary work. Women, children, and youth are the target group of PCRD’s goals in order to create a fertile ground for mutual understanding. PCRD exerts its utmost effort to contribute to the achievement of peace in the Middle East. The Board of Directors is comprised of seven people who are elected every three years.
• Mihwar Center for the Protection and Empowerment of Women and Families:
A Palestinian community center that was designed to support and strengthen the family relations by reducing the phenomenon of domestic violence and assist women and children through defending their rights and the dignity of women. The Center is non-profit and receives cases from the community without any compensation for the services it provides. The Center has a qualified specialist professional staff, which is under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Affairs.
The Centre, so-called the Safe Home, offers a range of services for women and girls who are victims of violence in the community after they return to it, as it provides these women and girls with social support as well as health guidance, and it also appoints a private lawyer for cases that require one. After the rehabilitation of these women and girls, the Center offers vocational training to help them get a career in which they will succeed in the future. The Centre also works on strengthening women through strengthening their social skills. The Center has a sports and fitness hall, in addition to another hall for the various social and cultural activities. The Centre also provides services to children; it has a kindergarten equipped with a specialized staff. There is also a section for social and psychological counseling that deals with the problems of parents and their children.
Other Local Institutions:
1. Women Society for Social Action
2. The Rehabilitation Center for Special Education (Basma Center)
3. Track Companion for People with Special Needs (Rafeeq ad Darb)
4. Family Development Charitable Society
5. The Return Center (Al ‘Awda)
6. The New Morning Center (Al Ghad Al Jadeed)
7. Arab Orthodox Charitable Society
8. Agricultural Cooperative Society
9. Traditional Industries Union
10. Siraj Center for the Study of the Holy Lands
11. Joint Advocacy Initiative
12. Palestinian Women’s Development Society
13. The Greek Orthodox Church Agents’ Society
14. Beit Sahour Sons Charitable Society
15. Shepherds Field Sons Arab Charitable Society
16. Beit Sahour Churches’ Council
17. Greek Catholic Housing Society
18. Ar Ru’at Latin Monastery Housing Society
19. Engineering Housing Society
20. Greek Orthodox Housing Society
21. Cooperative Charitable Housing Society
22. The Home Housing society
23. Al Beida Housing Society
24. Greek Catholic Scouts
25. Latin Monastery Scouts
26. Arab Orthodox Club Scouts
27. Shepherds’ Scout