The Al-Rowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Center is an independent, non-political and nongovernmental association in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. It was founded in 1988 to combat violence among children, teaching them to be promoters of peace. AlRowwad is a grassroots organization run by and for the community. It was established on the initiative of Dr. Abdelfattah Abusrour and some friends, all of them residents of Aida camp whose population is 4000 people (650 families).
The founders wanted to provide an alternative to the spiralling violence resulting from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and to create a safe, child-centred space where the children of the camp could ‘be children again’. The Aida camp is located against the separation wall and is therefore particularly vulnerable to military incursions by Israeli soldiers.Through relevant educational programs and creative opportunities, the center works to empower them with the skills, confidence and awareness they need to build a more hopeful future. The Center’s general assembly includes residents of the camp as well other local Bethlehem neighborhoods assuring connections with the greater area.
AlRowwad believes in the cultivation of creativity as an alternative to violence to fight against injustice. ALrowwad uses the arts to give the community a platform from which they tell their stories, as well as equipping community members with concrete skills so they can work more effectively for sustainable social change. The center also works to support the women of the community through specific training programs, in recognition of the extra pressure that camp life puts on women as keepers of the family. All activities are open to girls and boys without discrimination.
In 2009, CBPPP sponsored the visit of the theater troupe of the Al Rowwad Centre. The Bethlehem group participated in a partnership with the Underground Railroad Theater youth group, and had public performances in Cambridge, Cape Cod, Vermont, Connecticut, and New York City.