Good news from Al Aqaba! In January, I attended an engineering conference in Doha Qatar concerning Gaza reconstruction. That made it possible for me to visit our projects in Palestine and Israel; my first stop was the West Bank village of Al Aqaba.
I had last seen Haj Sami Sadeq, the mayor of Al Aqaba, in 2008 when he joined our speaking tour that spanned the United States. The mayor is paraplegic, so I did all of the driving. He returned the favor this time by picking me up in Ramallah in his specially modified car that allows him to accelerate, brake and steer using only his hands (see photos).
It was wonderful to see him again and to spend two days in Al Aqaba, strolling the brand-new streets of the village, meeting villagers and Haj Sami’s extended family and discussing challenges as well as future building projects. We visited our kindergarten, now 3 stories high, with 130 students in attendance, the Ibn Rush’d Library upstairs and 1.5 floors housing the Rural Women’s Cooperative’s sewing machines, giving moms jobs. We visited the 3 new apartments being constructed for visiting English teachers; and new classrooms to double the size of Al Aqaba’s elementary school. We talked about the demolition orders (still in force) and the status of the village’s master plan and the hope that its approval will assure the village its right to issue building permits on the land to which it holds clear title.
It was a great pleasure to visit the little 2-room clinic in Al Aqaba that with your help, will expand into a Birthing Center with ultrasound, heart monitors, and an incubator. When our Birthing Center project reaches its fundraising goal, we’ll install refurbished medical equipment and provide training along with an ambulance with portable incubator. This ambulance will not only be the first mobile neonatal care unit in Area C of the West Bank, it may be the first ambulance in all of Area C.
How will this delivery be possible? The Rotary Club of Nazareth, Israel, in partnership with my Rotary Club of Woodside / Portola Valley California will draw upon their Rotary connections to assure the delivery of the medical equipment and ambulance. I look forward to telling you more about this in future updates!
Thank you again for your wonderful support!
I am delighted to let you know that we are nearly ready to begin construction of this, the 2nd Abir’s Garden Playground. During my January visit to the West Bank and Israel, I met with both the Israeli and Palestinian Combatants for Peace coordinators to finalize our plans.
You may remember that when we began raising funds for this project in 2008, we planned to build the new playground at the Si’ir School for Girls, near Hebron. During my visit, I learned that the Si’ir Girls School had installed an outdoor stage instead of waiting for our promised playground. Bassam Aramin, co-founder of Combatants for Peace and Palestinian Coordinator, helped find a new site at another school, also near Hebron, that is in need of a playground. The landscape engineers will soon be meeting with the parents to select playground equipment and finalize the plans for the project.
“Combatants for Peace have decided to start the project in the Hebron area, in the West Bank village of Samoah – Simya. We have the perfect location, protected by a wall, and with more land. Combatants for Peace, both Palestinian and Israeli -- and internationals too -- can reach the area easily to help with construction. There are no playgrounds, no gardens in this area, so it’ll be great to build one in this village!” – Bassam Aramin, Palestinian Coordinator, Combatants for Peace
As soon as they order the playground equipment, Combatants for Peace will set the schedule for construction and bring together Israeli and Palestinian members to build. We hope you will join us there for the opening ceremony and encourage you to invite your elected officials!
Sincere thanks for all your help,
P.S Site photos coming soon, followed by schedule.
Dear All who have supported our Beam of Light Soccer Intiative,
Today is the final day for GlobalGiving’s Give More Get More challenge. Please take a moment to make a donation to help complete our funding for the Beam of Light Soccer project.
From now until 11:59 Eastern Time, EVERY DONATION IS BEING MATCHED by GlobalGiving.com Please give now at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/lights-for-ramadan-soccer-tournament/
This project has been a small miracle in a time of great hardship and despair in Gaza. Your donation really mattered. When your gift was augmented by a small grant from a family foundation, amazingly, despite the blockade, the Rebuilding Alliance was able to successfully install the first unit of a community center in time for the Rachel Corrie Ramadan Soccer Tournament! The portable office unit included a transformer so we stretched our small grant to install lights along the walkway out to the field, and added new sand, fully levelled to improve the field! Cindy and Craig Corrie personally delivered gently used soccer uniforms. UNRWA cleared the rubble of demolished homes away from the perimeter of the field. We have YOU, our committed supporters, to thank! We hope the hundreds of donated shoes we collected will be allowed in on the next delegation – and we’ve received a seed grant to develop a creative strategy to get doors, wall cement, and windows into Gaza, for so that the soccer players from Ybnah camp can fix their neighborhood’s damaged homes.
How did this project get started?
Our commitment to Gaza began when we contacted the family whom Rachel Corrie sought to protect when she stood before the bulldozer that would demolish their home. The Rebuilding Alliance brought that family to the U.S., joining Craig and Cindy Corrie in a nationwide speaking tour – and we raised the funds we needed to rebuild their home. They and many others in Gaza who knew and cared about Rachel, formed themselves into the Rachel Corrie Sports Initiative to give back to the community.
This past December and January, when faced with the immense loss of life and destruction of Gaza neighborhoods, the Rebuilding Alliance put peacemakers in Gaza and peacemakers in Israel on the phone line, every three days, to tell hundreds of people across the U.S. and Europe what was happening, and brainstorm ways to help safeguard families in Gaza and in Sderot, Israel and make this stop.
When the assault ended, we listened hard to our friends at the Rachel Corrie Sports Initiative who said, "Start with Soccer" -- as soccer could immediately draw neighborhoods together to help heal the trauma that each person had experienced.
And so you did.
Please make another gift now to help us finish the “Beam of Light” project. The funds you donate will complete the lighting of the soccer field. Wooden posts, instead of steel, will keep costs down.
And your donation will extend a ripple effect of goodwill and healing where it is so deeply needed.
Please give now at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/lights-for-ramadan-soccer-tournament/
With Sincere Thanks,