Do you remember our program to help Combatants for Peace build playgrounds in memory of the child, Abir Aramin? Our work is moving forward. Donna Baranski-Walker, Founder of Rebuilding Alliance, and Souzan Jaber, Board Member with Rebuilding Alliance, recently visited the Abir’s Garden playground under construction in Al Samoa Simya! I've asked Donna to tell you more about their trip below.
Also, this past Sunday, Abir Aramin's case was in the news. Judge Orit Efal-Gabai from the Jerusalem District Court ruled that the Israeli state was responsible for the death of Abir Aramin and must pay her family compensation: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/26/israel-pay-family-compensation-palestinian-girl In the trial, one of the first questions the Judge had asked of her family is why they choose to build playgrounds in memory of their child, Abir. Our playgrounds provide a beautiful and living memorial, a commitment to justice, tolerance, and understanding, and a venue to bring Combatants for Peace to meet with children.
Thank you once again for your generous contribution! None of this would be possible without your donations.
Rudolfo San MiguelSocial Media CoordinatorRebuilding Alliance
Dear Global Giving Donor,
Souzan Jaber, Rebuilding Alliance Board Member and I recently visited the Palestinian village of Al Samoa Simya where Combatants for Peace is now in stage 3 of constructing the playground, Abir’s Garden: a Safe Place to Grow.
Al Samoa Simya is near the southern-most tip of the West Bank. To get there from Ramallah, one must go around Jerusalem, adding another hour to a 2 hour trip. We were lucky to travel with Khalil Saadeh in his pick-up truck on a very hot day, up and down steep back-roads. We were traveling on Sep. 8th, just after Ramadan, crossing through areas A, B, and C. Sometime the roads were closed by Israeli soldiers. We were often passing armored jeeps. Later we learned that the Israeli Army demolished a group of homes near Al Samoa that day.
Yusri, our primary Palestinian coordinator from Combatants for Peace (C4P) was away in England with Israeli coodinator Yaniv, both part of a 16 member team of C4P members invited to participate in a conflict resolution program and speaking tour. Mohamed Amer, a C4P member and teacher at a nearby school, joined us at the playground and introduced us to the staff and children.
It was great to see the new playground equipment in use! Your donations have paid for the landscaping and will pay for the materials and installation of shade awnings and small fountain in Stages 3 and 4 of this project. The playground equipment in Stage 2 was provided by an extra grant from Playgrounds for Palestine. Very exciting and sincerely appreciated!
The Combatants for Peace teams (both Palestinians and Israelis) will be meeting at the Al Samoa Simya kindergarten for a team meeting, then to help complete playground installation, and lastly to hold a formal opening ceremony. Soon, we will ask you to invite your Senators and Representative to join them for the big day.
Please do feel free to give me a call if you have suggestions or questions.
Founder and Executive Director Rebuilding Alliance650 325 4663
I want to take this opportunity to thank you again for helping to support Teaching in a Village Under Demolition Orders through your generous donations and concern! I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that everyone in Al Aqaba really appreciated our first English teacher, Kali Rubaii; see Kali's report below with photos. Kali taught children, two groups of teens, and an adult group -- and her classes kept growing as her reputation spread! Even a group of bank tellers in the neighboring town of Tubas asked to attend English classes in Al Aqaba! Our second English teacher, Morgan Bach, just arrived in Al Aqaba last Thursday.
We wondered if Morgan would be able to arrive because early that morning, the Israeli Army closed Al Aqaba Village and demolished the home of three families, the Peace Road, a water cistern and one other road. This was the 2nd demolition of the Peace Road. We heard about it early and did our best to call the U.S. Embassy and Consulate, and the consulates of other countries, to ask their help to make this stop. Our board member, Souzan Jaber, was there waiting outside the village with the Governor of Tubas who was also barred from entry. When the soldiers left the village, the destruction along the Eastern side of town was clear to see. Heartbreaking.
Despite this, Kali's report describes the sense of hope that people of Al Aqaba, especially the young people, hold in their hearts. I know you share that determination.
Rudy San Miguel
This summer I taught English courses in Al Aqaba. I taught about 60 students: 20 girls ages 9-12, 20 young boys ages 14-16, and 20 adults (mostly University students and local farmers and shepherds) ages 18-50. For the younger students, we covered many topics, often using songs and dances to understand colors and numbers (The Very Hungry Caterpillar was perfect for this), or the parts of the human body (Head Shoulders Knees and Toes and Simona Says were big hits!). Eventually each student practiced leading the rest of the class in song. My favorite lesson for the children's classes was a week-long drawing exercise in which they drew their house or dream house and then labeled the parts of their drawing. Each student presented their house and some information about themselves to the whole class to practice public speaking. I was impressed by their vivid descriptions of beautifully designed homes, complete with flower vases, colorful roofs, and tree-filled yards. During the first lesson of the adult class, I asked students to tell me about their childhoods and was confronted with an urgent question from a young man in the back of the room, who later described himself as a poet: "I can tell you about my childhood, but what are your hopes and dreams, Miss?" I quickly learned that while one's childhood is certainly of importance, Al Aqaba's youth are more preoccupied with shaping their futures and realizing their dreams. After mastering the basics of the past preterit, imperfect, and past progressives tenses, we eagerly jumped into the future, subjunctive, and conditional tenses. We worked on detailed letters to American penpals at UCSC in California that describe the conditions of living under occupation as well as the hopes and dreams of each young man in the class. We drafted high quality English resumes in anticipation of those futures, delved into topics of refugeeness, longing, and land ownership, recited a poem by Mahmoud Darwish, and were lucky to have 2 American guests visit for a day of intensive conversational English practice. I had so much fun teaching English and learning Arabic from these intelligent, motivated young people. My biggest challenge with the students was the fact that as the summer progressed, my classes kept getting bigger and bigger, and it seemed I never had enough copies of handouts! We faced other challenges, as well, however: our conversations in class were often interrupted by the deafening sound of jets flying overhead the Israeli military training camp next door. My very first day in the village, an Israeli administrator arrived to photograph the newly re-paved road that had been demolished in May (the village mayor, Haj Sami, was visibly anxious about the potential for a second demolition). I was aware that at any moment the school, under demolition order like most of the buildings in the village, might be bulldozed: this reality naturally generated a sense of anxiety about the future. I was impressed by how defiantly students did not allow this to interfere with their English learning, their sense of humor, or their insistence on mastering the future tense both linguistically and in their lives. Inshalla, I will be back next summer to teach English and continue my fieldwork as an Anthropologist in Al Aqaba.
I am pleased to tell you that we are really close to completing our fundraising for the Birthing Center project!
When we learned that it would not be possible to send a refurbished ambulance to Al Aqaba (Israel does not allow used vehicles in), we contacted Assist International to restate the budget. That led to considerable discussion regarding the Rotary International matching grant that is a sister grant to our Global Giving initiative. The good news is that your donation via Global Giving.org will pay for the training and diplomacy side of this project, and will cost a total of $14,820". As of this writing, we are $3,013 away from our goal! The Rotary International side will pay for the ultrasound, incubators and fetal monitoring part of the project.
We look forward to moving this all forward in a few months time, as soon as the Rotary International grant is approved.
I am forwarding a status update from Donna, our director, who is currently in Ramallah, Palestine. She just spent some 15 days in Al Aqaba!
Rudolfo San Miguel
Social Media Coordinator
Dear Project Donors,
When we learned that it would not be possible to send a refurbished ambulance to Al Aqaba (Israel does not allow used vehicles in), we contacted Assist International to restate the budget. That led to considerable discussion regarding the Rotary International matching grant that is a sister grant to our Global Giving initiative. The good news is that your donation via Global Giving.org will pay for the training and diplomacy side of this project, and will cost a total of $14,820". As of this writing, we are __________ away from our goal! The Rotary International side will pay for the ultrasound, incubators and fetal monitoring part of the project.
Founder and Executive Director
Rebuilding Alliance Next steps"
[11:58:20 AM] Donna Baranski-Walker: :
[11:58:46 AM] Donna Baranski-Walker: 1) Post the new budget to the birthing center project as a new attachment
[11:59:14 AM] Donna Baranski-Walker: 2) Notify Alexis to tell her to change the total requested amount -- or can you do this yourself?
[12:00:44 PM] Donna Baranski-Walker: 3) Post the status report.... please add "The good news is that your donation via Global Giving.org will pay for the training and diplomacy side of this project, and will cost a total of $14,820". As of this writing we are __________ away from our goal!