If Alaa has one tip for social entrepreneurs, it’s to never wait around for a fund, and to instead go ahead and act.
Three months after the completion of the campaign, the BuildPalestine team met with Alaa Halayka, Manager of Raseel Association for children with autism learning difficulties to follow up with the impact of the work they’ve done post-campaign so far done.
Raseel is an organization that works on therapy programs for children with autism learning difficulties. Raseel is an individual social initiative, and one of the first specialized organizations in Palestine dedicated to children with autism.
Through their work, Raseel noticed the lack of sensory therapy as a treatment, and dedicated their efforts to bridging it. The end goal was to create an interactive sensory room that introduces more modern methods of treatment.
Alaa, Manager at Raseel, believes that Autism is marginalized in our society. Raseel suffered from lack of funds to create the new sensory room that would aid the children’s therapy. The organization sought after funds from several sectors, knocking on door after door, to no avail. On this journey, Alaa met members of the BuildPalestine team who suggested running a crowdfunding campaign as an alternative form of aid for the organization.
Raseel ran the campaign for 3 months, from September to November 2018. Alaa mentioned that during the campaign, whenever he or a member of the team saw donations, as small as $5 and as large as $1000, it really pushed them forward as a team. Every dollar raised the team’s morale.
“The campaign came to the right place, at the right time”
The campaign funds were allocated towards developing the sensory room, as well as to support running costs of the organization. Alaa says that Raseel made history when it came to the sensory room the organization developed, offering a new and innovative form of therapy.
What’s really cool was that the organization staff already had the training needed to run sensory sessions, but not the physical facilities. It was no surprise, then, to hear that the next day the room was installed, sessions began right away. “We felt like we accomplished something significant as an association.” Alaa said. Alaa refers to Raseel’s story as a success story, and so do we!
Alaa says that the campaign taught him, as well as the organization to address a large audience, and to formulate a message that inspires. Alaa also learned the importance of persistence. If Alaa has one tip for social entrepreneurs, it’s to never wait around for a fund, and to instead go ahead and act. Alaa also believes that when it comes to crowdfunding, transparency is a very important aspect. This is a recurring theme among our different campaigns.
When asked about future plans for Raseel, Alaa said he definitely wants to run another campaign in the future to aid him with upcoming projects the organization is planning.
“I measure my accomplishments by looking into the eyes of the children’s parents.”
The impact of the campaign, and of Raseel’s work, can be noted in the number of children benefiting from the room. The sensory room has so far helped 21 children, and is currently being used to run around 35 sessions per week. Raseel also offers the sessions at a much lower price than other centers in town, also thanks to the funds they received from the campaign.
We talked to one parent, Mr. Mohamad Mazyed, about his son’s experience with the sensory room at Raseel. He said that his son, Noor Eddin, has around 10 sessions per month. Mohamad said that the room has helped his son with learning to relax, distinguishing between colors and textures, and that it has improved his eye contact. “Children with autism learn something new every day, so imagine using this room - it’s offered so much.”
“Now we can show off our abilities, I can speak more confidently to different stakeholders, and I have something to show for.” says Alaa. Not only that, Alaa believes that the work of this campaign will help expand the horizons of his work, and will open more doors for Raseel. Through crowdfunding, Raseel was able to attain enough funds to continue operating. “I was finally able to stand on my own two feet.” Alaa says.
“Without this campaign, I couldn’t have moved forward.”