Located in the center of downtown Haifa, Wadi Nisnas is one of the city's Arab neighborhoods. Firyal Bsool has been a cornerstone of the Arab community here for decades, never resting to help the needy and the disadvantaged. Now, she is using her experience to support Arab women from other Arab neighborhoods to tackle social problems there. She recently brought together a group of twelve women from all over the city who plan to address problems of poverty and to work with youth. Kayan's Community Coordinator Rafah Anabtawi will help to facilitate the group.
Firyal's original plan was to build a women's group in her own community in Wadi Nisnas. After years as a volunteer in the Haifa Women's Coalition, she graduated from Kayan's course "Women`s Activism for Social Change" in 2007 and wanted to empower other women in her community. But after years of trying, she still had found only a handful of potential participants. Wadi Nisnas is a poor neighborhood, and women, Firyal says, are too busy with day-to-day issues to think about their own needs. "We are talking about women who have a lot of children, who are unemployed, and some of them have no education whatsoever," she says.
Well educated with a Bachelor's degree in Education and Hebrew Literature from Haifa University, Firyal is a committed and well-known activist in her neighborhood. Curiously, her life as a communal activist began in her former hairstylist's shop in Wadi Nisnas. In the 1970s, her shop was the local communication powerhouse. Firyal knew all the stories and needs of her neighbors, so local charities asked her to help them to distribute their services.
Volunteering for the charities, Firyal became more and more aware of women's needs: "I found that the women in the neighborhood suffer from certain problems that could connect them, they have something in common. But there is no community center in Wadi Nisnas where activities could take place or where women could meet to discuss their needs. There is no frame for them."