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.
Our project, Teaching in a Village Under Demolition Orders, continues to grow. I and Sophia Omar were both there for the first day of school on August 24th in Al Aqaba Village — so very exciting! I am happy to announce that a new teacher, from Estonia, is now working in Al Aqaba through a grant provided by the Estonian government. Some 160 children registered for the Al Haq Kindergarten -- one of Al Aqabaa's largest classes ever.
I promise to write more soon about the new programs that Librarian Haneen has been developing new programs at the Ibn Rush'd Library. We may be able to qualify these for the Microsoft Youth Spark matching grant -- more on this by the end of this week.
What I do want to share, in addition to these great photos, is something I noticed when Sophia and I joined Combatants for Peace to visit a school they helped finish for a small Palestinian village called Kirbet Twire. The new school is beautiful, funded by the European Community — but the school is not in the village it serves. It is a half mile away, uphill, no school bus. The village itslef is in Area C and faces demolition orders (as does Al Aqaba) Instead of risking the demolition of the school, the Palestinian Authority and the donor governments placed the school in Area B, leaving Kirbet Twire without its children, without direct investment in its infrastructure, and, I would argue, even more at risk of demolition.
When we came back to Al Aqaba that evening, I asked Mayor Haj Sami how he built the elementary school there, in the village itself. One thing he did was to attach it directly to his home, one of two pre-1968 structures that are free of demolition orders. Also, he got private funding to build the school and only asked for PA help to staff it after it was built. With the kindergarten, I know that story — Rebuilding Alliance had a small grant to buils a school that would not be demolished and so we responded to Al Aqaba's request and then Japan, Norway and Belgium added the 2nd floor ... and so it has grown and we've all kept it standing.
You support has made a big difference in this process. Your calls to your members of Congress have been invaluable at pivotal times, like when we helped Al Aqaba bring their case before the Israeli High Court in 2008 or when we asked for U.S. State Department assistance last June and the Israeli Army stopped live-fire training in the village that night and did not return.
Our strategy to support the building of Al Aqaba's kindergarten despite demolition orders has helped Al Aqaba become the vibrant village it is today. Sophia and I had the pleasure of meeting a representative of the British Consul and also of the Palestine Welfare Fund while in Al Aqaba — very exciting to hear of their new grants to improve the kindergarten! What we all set in motion is a network of assistance, both financial and diplomatic, to keep this village standing. It is a good model — your support for this program is the key, so deeply appreciated!
Thank you again for your support. When our U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages won the Global Giving competition, we moved forward with care. Here is what our U.S. Movement has done so far:
Confirmed by our visit to Palestine, our U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages is needed now more than ever. Our Contact Congress software could be of use to many villages and supporting organizations — we hope to have our software up and running by December or January as a team of students at UC Berkeley’s Code the Change Chapter want to help us. I am seeking a volunteer coder or techie who can help coordinate this in depth.
Thank you again for supporting our U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages. I hope you are excited by the accomplishments we have achieved and I hope this gives you a sense of the challenges we face.
As always, please feel free to give me a call with any questions or suggestions: 650 440 9667 is my cellphone.