North Park Alum Implements Project to Help Establish West Bank Libraries

Estephan Salameh

CHICAGO (June 9, 2008) - Estephan Salameh G'2004 (Master of Arts in Community Development) was recently in Chicago to speak at a fundraiser for the new non-profit program that he and his wife Laurie G'2006 (MM/NA) are developing in the West Bank.

The “Friends of Seraj” hosted two fundraisers in Chicago on Sunday, June 1st, to support the project that will establish libraries in several of the poor villages where there are limited human services and no public libraries. Using many of the community based organizational skills the couple learned at North Park University, Estephan and Laurie are engaging grass-roots community organizations to help establish the libraries. Their vision is to provide resources, skills, and hope for the youth and families who are facing severe economic and security restrictions. The first library opened last year in Estephan’s hometown, Jifna, which is located approximately 16 miles north of Jerusalem. The next village slated for a new library is Abboud, also near Jerusalem.

Estephan was appointed to the Palestinian Negotiating Team in 2007 and was sent to Harvard University with the Israeli negotiators and others on the Palestinian team. Since the training phase, the two parties have carried on extensive negotiations as part of the Annapolis Peace Process. In addition to these responsibilities, Estephan serves as the Director General of the National Policy Unit for the Palestinian Authority where he oversees a World Bank project titled “the Land Administration Project.” He is also completing his Ph.D. dissertation in urban planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Laurie is employed full time with World Vision International’s Jerusalem office as Executive Relations Director where she coordinates board activities and assists with public relations. In addition, she is the West Bank coordinator for the Association for International Development, an umbrella organization of 60 international non-governmental agencies involved in development projects in the West Bank. She has assumed primary responsibilities for the Seraj library project with Estephan’s heavy work and travel schedule.

The couple thanked North Park University for providing the vision and for the ongoing prayers and support as they live in Palestine and work in the challenging arena.