We have really good news. This amazing project in support of the kindergarten and schools in Al Aqaba Village, has been selected to be part of Microsoft’s Youth Spark matching grant program! This means that on #GivingTuesday, Dec. 3rd, Microsoft will match all donations dollar for dollar starting at 9am Pacific time — and they are giving away a total of $250,000.
What an incredible pleasure it is to hear Al Aqaba Village fill with children’s voices each morning as the school bus minivan brings more and more students from the surrounding towns and hillsides! This is especially important here, because demolition orders have been issued against the 95% of the structures including most of the homes, the mosque, the clinic, and the kindergarten. Our Al Haq Kindergarten (Al Haq means ‘justice’ in Arabic) is what keeps Al Aqaba Village standing, inspiring some 20 countries to invest in Al Aqaba and to provide a diplomatic channel that is the village's lifeline — but no matter how wonderful a building may be, what matters most is the children.
When the brilliant students at Foothill College's Rebuilding Alliance Club helped us launch this project, we called it "Teaching in a Village Under Demolition Orders." As you see, we’ve now renamed to call it “Scholarships for Children, Stipends for Young Teachers” to help the neediest children attend kindergarten tuition-free while continueing to provide stipends to student teachers. We moved support for the Library into its own project called, “Help the Ibn Rush’d Library Serve Youth in Area C” — and that new project qualified for the Youth Spark 1:1 matching grant too!
I know this project means a lot to you and I hope you will save the date to give on #GIvingTuesday. We learned in the Youth Spark training that even with $250,000 to give away, Microsoft’s Youth Spark 1:1 matching funds will likely run out in the very first hour. Please take a moment now to mark your calendar and set an alarm for 9am Pacific / Noon Eastern / 5pm London / 7pm Jerusalem time. At a minute after the hour on Dec. 3rd, please make your donation and watch it double!Questions? Suggestions? Please give me a call at 650 325-4663.
I have good news: this month, a delegation from Circle of Health International will be visiting Al Aqaba’s Al Amal (Hope) Clinic and also the new clinic in Ein Al Beida. Circle of Health International is a U.S. NGO dedicated to working with women and their communities in times of crisis and disaster to ensure access to quality reproductive, maternal, and newborn care. They provide volunteers to give clinical and technical support on site in the field, supporting local clinicians without taking over their work. This delegation is a team of 4 people (3 women and one man) who will stay in Al Aqaba Village on Nov 18 - Nov. 22, then return again Nov. 26 - Dec. 1. One delegate, Certified Nurse Midwife Ms. Simone Lance, will remain to volunteer through the end of the year. They would like to assist at the Al Aqaba Clinic, at the new Emergency Care Center in Ein Al Beida, and anywhere in the area where they are needed. They are ready to provide workshops on a diverse range of birth, prenatal and postpartum topics, and would like to provide hands-on care as well.
Meanwhile, our project is moving forward step by step as we get ready to ship the medical equipment. Upon our return from our successful visit with the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Sophia Omar and I met with Assist International to get the equipment ready for shipment. Assist International revised the equipment list to comply with the request by the Ministry of Health for equipment brands with local tech support. You may remember that Rebuilding Alliance’s project is in parallel to Rotary International matching grant for the Birthing Center equipment so we are submitting the revised list of equipment to Rotary International for their approval. As soon as RI approves, funds will be transferred and Assist International will ship the equipment.
Thank you again for your support of this important project. We’re getting close now. We think the equipment will arrive in February and we will schedule the trainers to arrive soon after. I look forward to sending you an invitation to join us for a 10 day tour in February or March to include our birthing center and clinic, and visits to the Rotary Clubs of Ramallah and of Nazareth and some wonderful site seeing!
As always, please feel free to call us with questions or suggestions at 650 325-4663.
I've just returned home from a remarkable speaking tour with author Laila El Haddad and her baby Malaak who celebrated her 1st birthday as they travelled on tour. Laila is co-author of The Gaza Kitchen: a Palestinian Culinary Journey. When co-author Maggie Schmitt cancelled due to illness, Laila and I loaded my Prius with car seat, luggage, cookbooks and as much Fair Trade Organic Olive Oil as we could fit and we set-off on tour throughout the SF Bay area, Sacramento, Grass Valley, and Sonoma.
Laila was recently featured on Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Though little known outside the region, Gazan cooking is famous within the Arab world for its rich seafood dishes and its unique combinations of flavors: hot peppers, rich spices, fresh herbs… a cuisine that Anthony Bourdain calls “unlike anything” he’s ever tasted in the Middle East! Through her blog and book Gaza Mom and her work as a journalist, documentarian, media activist, public speaker and policy advisor she provides rare insight into the human experience of the region.
At Kitchen on Fire, we cooked a six-course meal. Class Menu:
Chef Olive regularly holds classes for young people — it will be exciting to include him as a guest speaker in the Fair Trade Jobs and Entrepreneurship program we are creating.
At Sacramento City College, Professor Riad Bahhur invited his Middle East History class and also a Women's Studies class to hear Laila's presentations. Prof. Riad used the kitchen classroom to prepare and serve the spicy red lentil & kale soup recipe! He is working with Laila on a documentary about Palestinian cuisine and he will be delighted to advise and host our Fair Trade Jobs and Entrepreneurship program at Sacramento City College.
BIG NEWS: I am happy to tell you that our project, Create Fair Trade Jobs in California, was approved for Microsoft's "Youth Spark" initiative. For 24 hours starting on December 3rd, Microsoft will be providing a 1:1 matching grant and they plan to give away $250,000 that day. The road trip was a great way to explore possibilities — this week we'll update the project description to describe our plans in detail so that we can announce the program and the matching grant at our booth at the San Francisco Green Festival this weekend on Nov. 9th and 10th. Again, thank you for your passion for Fair Trade from Palestine and your faith in Rebuilding Alliance's ability to make this Fair Trade Jobs & Entrepreneurship project take shape. Our project will have positive and tangible impact here in the U.S. and as the sales of Fair Trade olive oil go up, that impact will stretch around the world to the Palestinian Fair Trade Association’s growers and women's cooperatives! We’re so excited!