Thank you again for making it possible to realize a dream in the creation of the first Palestinian Birthing Center in Area C, the Jordan River Valley. We're getting closer to project implementation as we work to address three important questions: (1) Customs Approval, (2) Staffing for 24/7 access, and (3) RI Matching Grant paperwork.
Customs Approval: This is especially challenging because we must seek approval from at least 2 and possibly 3 countries, each with their own regulations regarding the import of refurbished medical equipment. Do it wrong and there could be tariffs or huge delays. The Rotary Club of Ramallah have been researching possibilities and meeting with Palestinian ministries seeking advice and waivers of tariffs and taxes. Assist International is in touch with the Israeli Ministry of Trade to confirm that they are providing a waiver of tariffs and taxes as well. While in Washington DC, I met with American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) to learn how they approach challenges like this and received their offer of help too. We're closer now to moving forward.
Staffing Up for Round-the-Clock Care: As you know, babies are born on their own schedule, so round-the-clock staffing will required for our Birthing Clinic. That's the staff we'll be training as part of this project. When we first drafted this proposal with Al Aqaba's Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq, we assumed the Palestinian National Authority would readily provide the staffing needed when the time came. However, sanctions leading up to and following the U.N. vote for recognition of Palestinian statehood, mean that the Palestinian government is unable to pay its current staff and in no position hire new staff. Recently, the director of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, Dr. Allam Jarar and Dr. Ruchama Marton of Physicians for Human Rights — Israel spoke at Stanford University Medical School. I asked both for their help. Next step: I'll soon contact the British Consul General in Jerusalem to ask if British funding is available for staffing, as the British built Al Aqaba's clinic building. If you have an in with the British Foreign Service, please ring me at 1 650 440 9667.
Transfer of the Rotary International Matching Grant Funds: this should be straight-forward once all i's are dotted and t's are crossed. Overall, that approval of the RI Matching grant is just good, significant because some seven Rotary Clubs in the SF Bay Area signed-on to help, along with the Rotary Club of Nazareth Israel and the Rotary Club of Ramallah Palestine.
I want you to know that you are part of a dream that took shape back in 2008. You see the light at the end of the tunnel, and usually only the next two steps ahead are visible. Take those two steps, reach out to all who can help, and the next two steps become clear. Happy Holidays, Happy New Year!
With love and gratitude,Donna
P.S. GlobalGiving is offering a remarkable 100% match for new recurring donations — our Birthing Center will certainly benefit from and deeply appreciate your long-term commitment. Throughout the entire month of December, GlobalGiving is matching new monthly recurring donations 100% up to $100 per donor. This could be a wonderful gift for the holidays! To participate, click the Donate button and select "Recurring Donation".
Morgan Bach, our 2nd visiting teacher in Al Aqaba Village, is now in Michigan starting her U.S. speaking tour! We sent her there to attend the Students for Justice in Palestine conference. Today she is speaking at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, standing-in for Palestinian nonviolence leader Iyad Burnat who was prevented from entering Jordan despite holding a U.S. Visa.
The wonderful travel stipend you provided through your donation to this program brought Morgan to Al Aqaba Village where she spent eight months volunteering as teacher, writer, and aspiring filmmaker (remarkable films). A graduate of Whitman College, she was in New Orleans working as a teacher when she found Al Aqaba through Rebuilding Alliance’s campaign to save the kindergarten that hundreds of Americans helped build.
160 children now attend our kindergarten! It keeps Al Aqaba Village standing, attracting new investment despite demolition orders — we hope that is a positive model that audiences will want to explore and support. Morgan will share her stories, photos and films to introduce Al Aqaba and discuss Area C, the 62% of the West Bank controlled solely by Israel where over 12,000 demolition orders have been issued by the Israeli Army to Palestinian livelihood structures build on their own land. Morgan will describe new interfaith building projects there, and introduce a new way to reach Congress here, on behalf of 149 Palestinian towns at-risk in Area C.
Here are Morgan's destinations:
Please give me a call at 650 440-9667 if you would like to gather your friends and organize a house party or speaking event to hear this dynamic speaker!
We have some good news! We have been notified by our friends at Playgrounds for Palestine that they will provide a grant to allows us to begin construction of a third Abir’s Garden Playground right away. Ideally, we would like to use your donations to cover the construction and meeting expenses of Combatants for Peace who will be coming together for this construction.
The “Combatants for Peace” movement was started jointly by Palestinians and Israelis, who have taken an active part in the cycle of violence; Israelis as soldiers in the Israeli army (IDF) and Palestinians as part of the violent struggle for Palestinian freedom. After brandishing weapons for so many years, and having seen one another only through weapon sights, they decided to put down their guns, and to fight for peace. Rebuilding Alliance joined when a child, Abir Aramin, was killed by an Israeli soldier's rubber-coated steel bullet. She was the daughter of CfP founder, Bassam Aramin and his wife Salwa. Together we created Abir's Garden: a Safe Place to Grow as a way to build good in memory of this beautiful child.
Thanks to your help, this will be our 3rd Abir's Garden playground! Our first playground was at Abir's school in Anata East Jerusalem. The next was in Al Samoa Simya in the south of the West Bank. This time we are asking Combatants for Peace to go north — and that means we'll be working with CfP's Northern team for this project. We have a site in mind: right next the Al Aqaba Kindergarten, in a village at risk of demolition in Area C. 'God is in the details' so we will be updating the project description as soon as the new plans are confirmed. More info coming soon!
Please note, GlobalGiving.org is holding their Bonus Matching Grant day on Tuesday Oct. 16th starting at 9:01pm Pacific time. They will give away $50,000 and they way this competition has been going, we expect that to happen in the first 2 hours. If you would like to give, please set your clock — GG will match your donation by 30%.