I am writing to update you on the project, Teaching in a Village under Demolition Orders, which you have supported with your generous contributions.
During the GlobalGiving Matching grant competition, this project received donations of $1041 which generated a match of $561! Very exciting. The donors asked us to use these funds specifically to buy books for the Ibn Rush’d Library!
More good news: The Palestinian Authority has notified Al Aqaba Village that they will pay the salaries of two new teachers! This means the kindergarten will have room for 20 more children. The challenge here is that in general the Palestinian Authority does not have the funding needed to pay salaries. What should we do if this promise cannot be fulfilled by the time school begins in September? Do you think Rebuilding Alliance should organize a Kindergarten scholarship fund for needy children?
Perhaps you remember our first visiting teacher to Al Aqaba, Ms. Kali Rubaii. Kali returned this summer with filmmaker Maurice Jacobsen to interview families in our Rebuilding to Remain program. Kali, a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology now UC Berkeley, is working with her professors to set-up a study visit to Al Aqaba for her Congressman Sam Farr.
You’ll be happy to know that Save the Children has been sponsoring a summer camp for the children of Al Aqaba! In addition, Al Aqaba’s guesthouse continues to welcome a steady stream of visitors! Koreans, Brits, Americans and Israelis are all visiting.
While in the West Bank, Kali interviewed two new visiting teacher candidates, an American and an Estonian. One, Patrick Fogerty, recently arrived in Al Aqaba. He was a teacher at Project Hope this summer and will stay in Al Aqaba for about a month. More about Patrick in our next email.
We continue to look for new teachers for the Fall Semester. If you know someone who you believe would be excellent, please ask them to get in touch with us to fill out an application!
As always, please send me any questions or suggestions. I look forward to your thoughts.
I hope you are wonderfully proud of both the Abir’s Garden Playgrounds now completed in memory of Abir Aramin. These wonderful play areas and family meeting spaces are realizing our dreams, so carefully developed in Abir's memory: "a safe place to grow. A place where children can be children and step out of the occupation into a world of play and imagination, kindness, and warmth.”
For all these years, even as we worked to build the Abir's Garden playgrounds, Rebuilding Alliance together with the Aramin Family and Combatants for Peace have done our best to press for laws that will keep soldiers and guns far away from schools. In 2008, Rebuilding Alliance brought the Aramin Family to testify at the State Department’s Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Group. In 2009, with the help of the Carter Center, we brought her lawyer, Atty. Michael Sfard of Yesh Din, to meet with the State Department as we submitted transcripts of the failed investigation by the Jerusalem prosecutor, to begin a long process to invoke an important U.S. Human Rights Law called the Leahy Law. Michael Sfard told them, "Sometimes people think that if you do nothing following a human rights violation, the problems will just stop or go away — instead, they get worse."
Not long ago, the US State Department released its Human Rights Report for 2011, Israel and the Occupied Territories. Based on our meeting with a member of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor last December, I feared that our long efforts to pursue the Leahy Law on Abir Aramin's behalf would come to naught but instead, by what was written about Abir in the Human Rights Report, a door remains open in the application of this law. I expected the Leahy Law would help most in the Middle East, but it suddenly came closer to home when in Fall 2011, the Israeli Border Police joined the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department in the Oakland CA area for training, just before the County Sheriff's Department violently broke up the Occupy Oakland Movement. Due to what happened to Abir Aramin, the U.S. Leahy Law prohibits U.S. aid and training for the unit involved, the West Bank Unit of the Israeli Border Police, until the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Upon reading the U.S. State Department repoort, Abir's father Bassam Aramin was hopeful, writing “Just remember one thing about Abir’s cause, justice must win even if it takes a long time.”
On a positive note, we've already raised just over $7000 towards what will be the 3rd Abir's Garden Playground. I have asked Combatants for Peace to visit Al Aqaba village in the north, near Tubas, in Area C to consider citing the next Abir's Garden there so to keep this village standing and to reinforce their message of neighborliness, recovery, and peace. Al Aqaba Village is also inviting the Northern Group of Combatants for Peace to use their guesthouse as a retreat space to advance their important work.
Thank you, once again, for supporting the Abir's Garden Playground Project. We'll be in touch again soon as plans take shape for the 3rd playground in memory of Abir Aramin!
P.S. My colleague Rudy, found this amazing video, documenting Combatants for Peace in action during one of the early phases in the construction of the Al Samoa-Simya Abir’s Garden: http://youtu.be/AxqB4BZNzzM
Good news: Rotary International has approved a matching grant that will provide the birthing center equipment, in parallel with our Rebuilding Alliance fundraising effort here in GlobalGiving.org to provide the training. At long last, we can launch this important project.
We're planning for early October. In addition to the technical training team, Rotarians from the San Francisco Area are encouraging Rebuilding Alliance to host a Holy Land Visit. The Rotary Club of Ramallah in Palestine and the Rotary Club of Nazareth in Israel will both be hosting, as well as the Villagers of Al Aqaba! We welcome you to join us! Details coming soon - please do send me email if you would like to join us!
Now, if you would, please take a moment to make a donation to this project to help meet the goal! We're almost there.
Today, Wednesday June 13th, GlobalGiving will match all donations to this project by 50%! Their Match Day will end at 11:59 pm Eastern time or sooner if their matching funds run out.
Thank you again for making Al Aqaba's dream, the 1st Palestinian Birthing Center in the Jordan Vally, a reality!