The International Center of Bethlehem (ICB) was officially launched on September 28th, 1995.
“The work of the ICB is directed towards building a civil society and a sustainable economic development, taking the Palestinian cultural heritage into consideration. Founding a civil society and a sustainable economic development depends primarily on the availability of a highly qualified and engaged people.”
The focus was on youth exchange, women’s programs and reintegration program. The first (5 year) strategic plan was developed in 1997 when a new complex of a school and a college connected to a conference and cultural center were envisioned as the Dar al-Kalima compound. In 2003, most of this plan was made a reality with the exception of the college. This first phase was very much influenced by the Oslo Accords and it was part and parcel of Ibrahim Abu Lughods’ plan for a new Palestinian educational system.
“The ICB is committed to continue to build and rebuild, to train and educate, to empower, to create life in the midst of despair, and to continue to call for justice and reconciliation in the midst of conflict and violence”.
Within this new strategic plan, a new theme was brought in, that of hope, and a new program was introduced, focusing on healing.
A Decade Later
In 1995, an abandoned rundown place of 3,767 sq ft was renovated to become the initial building of the ICB.
Since then, the facilities have expanded so that a total of 191,359 sq ft have been constructed so far.
The staff has grown from 4 in 1995 to almost 100, making it the third largest private employer in Bethlehem.
The overall operational budget has also grown, from the initial $88,095 in 1995 to $1.157 million in 2006. In less than 11 years, projects totaling more than $16 million were implemented ($8.5m for construction and $8.1m for operation and programs).
The outreach ministries have expanded tremendously. The number of direct beneficiaries grew from less than 1000 persons in 1995 to almost 60,000 in 2006. Geographically speaking, the ICB started in Bethlehem city, expanded to the whole Bethlehem region, and started working on becoming a national player throughout the West Bank.
International outreach has widened as well. Friendship associations were created in Denmark (2000), Germany (2001), and USA (2004).
All of this growth found its expression in the number of new facilities created within this decade:
In 2006, it became clear that in order for the ICB and its ministries to continue to grow, a restructuring process would be necessary. With that in mind, the third cycle of strategic planning started, looking at 2006-2010.
From December 27-30, 2006 the senior staff of the International Center of Bethlehem, Dar al-Kalima College, and Dar al-Kalima Health & Wellness Center met in Ramallah for a workshop to discuss "Vision 2010" as proposed by Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb. The local board met soon after, on February 9th to review, discuss and approve Vision 2010. The most important change endorsed was to redefine the mother-daughter relationship between the ICB on the one hand and DAK College and DAK Health & Wellness on the other into a sister relationship of 3 quasi-independent entities that form a new consortium called “Diyar”, headed by a president and governed by a joint board. This development came in response to the growth of programs in the last 5 years and as a strategic step towards securing the future of the organization, developing a structure that will ensure sound management practices, and providing the needed space for growth.
Diyar, which is the plural of “dar” (“house”) in Arabic and thus translates into “houses”, was approved as the name for the new consortium. The consortium was formed out of 3 “dars”: Dar an-Nadwa (ICB), Dar al-Kalima College, and Dar al-Kalima Health & Wellness Center. It was originally intended for each of these 3 “dars” to have its own director as well as its distinct organizational structure, but after an annual meeting in early 2009, another restructuring was recommended which focused more on program groups than buildings as institutions.
The consortium is headed by a president who is responsible for the overall vision of the consortium and who is capable of providing the needed leadership, securing funds for continuous growth and management. The consortium is governed by a board of directors, whose members constitute 4 different committees, 3 of which are responsible for the 3 “dars” respectively, in addition to the finance committee.
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