"I think the first sense I had in experiencing the work with Theater of the Oppressed was surprise. It was surprising to feel so many feelings at the same time: excitement, sadness and joy. It was surprising to feel so close to people that only an hour ago where strangers or enemies. For me, TO is a bridge, a surprising bridge.”
Below, I've attached a more detailed description of the theater rationale and also how CfP will extend this to youth, starting with a launch event in Al Aqaba Village and Ein Yanoun soon after.
We have amazing news. Abir’s Garden: Playgrounds for a Safe Place to Grow has been selected to be part of Microsoft’s Youth Spark matching grant program! What that means is that on #GivingTuesday, Dec. 3rd, Microsoft will match all donations in a 1:1 match starting at 9am Pacific time — and they are giving away a total of $250,000.
The reason Abir’s Garden qualified for Youth Spark is that Combatants for Peace added something new: youth theater. In addition to the wonderful building plans we’ve just received for the new playground construction in Ein Yanoun (see photo below), CfP will launch a new theater workshop for the children. These big former soldiers and former fighters are going to build the new playground AND work with the children to give shape to their dreams and vision while acknowledging the daily challenges the face. This project matters because the children face a very real danger. Nearly every day, settlers run down the hill and attack families in the village. I’ve included a wikipedia link that describes what has been going on. Internationals are invited live in the village because that helps keep them safe and this village has been working with Combatants for Peace for years because they so deeply want a peaceful future.
Now here’s our challenge: yesterday, a representative from Microsoft told us that their Youth Spark matching funds run out in the first hour. I know this project means a lot to you — please take a moment now to mark your calendar and set an alarm for 9am Pacific / Noon Eastern / 5pm London / 7pm Jerusalem time.
At a minute after the hour on Dec. 3rd, please make your donation and watch it double!
Thank you again for your support for the next Abir's Garden Playground!
My colleague and mentor, Sophia Omar and I are here in Palestine to work through project details, in advance of John, Gethin, and Jon's big swim from Europe to Asia on August 30th! These three cool guys in their 30's from Great Britain are swimming the Hellenspot Channel in Turkey to raise funds for Abir's Garden. More about their adventure, and how you can help in the link below.
On Friday, Aug. 23rd, Sophia and I had a great meeting with Combatants for Peace leaders and the mayor of Ein Yanun Village where everyone is ready to build the next Abir’s Garden playground! Then some of us continued on to Al Aqaba Village where the mayor is inviting them to help with their playgound and stand with them too.Rebuilding Alliance began our work with Combatants for Peace back in 2007, in memory of 10 year old Abir Aramin. Since then, Combatants for Peace (CfP) has evolved considerably and it was good to work through details in person. CfP’s commitment to Ein Yanun, a Palestinian Village in Area C, is so very important because the village is under daily threat from a particularly violent group of Israeli settlers just meters away. EAPPI volunteers reside in the village and Rabbis for Human Rights files legal petitions on Ein Yanun’s behalf. In Ein Yanun, we envision a two level playground on the hillside, framed by a stone wall, with picnic benches for families overlooking the play structures — can you see it? We site it on a sunny spot next to the school, safely tucked in between the houses and away from the arbitrary and dangerous border with the settlement. Soon, Combatants for Peace will send their budget and specs. We’ll develop the project in phases, starting the land preparation now and moving forward with Playground equipment, tables and shade as soon as donations arrive.
In Al Aqaba, in just a few weeks time, Combatants for Peace will help spread sand and repaint and repair playground equipment. For many of the Israeli members, they will be returning to a place they may remember as Israeli Army training camps are nearby.
Building playgrounds is a good way to make a real difference for children and support a movement of former combatants determined to end the violence and the Occupation. Your help makes this possible!
P.S. In addition to John, Gethin's and Jon's Big Swim, from now through Aug. 30th GlobalGiving is matching recurring donations by 100% up to $200. Please consider making a 3 month commiment of support for this important project before the end of this month.
In an earlier report, I mentioned that Abir's Garden Playground in Al Aqaba is receiving a matching grant from Playgrounds for Palestine. In the past two weeks their team visited Al Aqaba to determine the site for the playground and discuss the earth-friendly goals for the design.
And that's where things get interesting! Al Aqaba Village has launched a remarkable tea factory (funded by the Japanese government) that is doing very well. Now the French will be funding a tea house and an upgrade to the Al Aqaba guesthouse too. Even the UNDP is interested in funding a community center project!
Our Abir's Garden playground design will put the children at the center of all of this, in the warm and watchful eye of their parents and the visitors who will keep this Area C village standing despite demolition orders. Next step: find the right landscape architect! I'll send you the designs as soon as I receive them.
Meanwhile, a remarkable fundraising project has been launched by John, Gethin and Jon in Britain. They are planning to swim from Europe to Asia on August 30th to raise funds for Abir's Garden. More specifically, they'll be swimming the Hellespont River: "Situated in Turkey, The Hellespont is undoubtedly one of the most significant open water swims in the world. In 1810, Lord Byron the English Poet became the first known person to swim across the Hellespont from Europe to Asia. He swam it in honour of Leander, who in Greek Mythology, would swim nightly across this stretch of water to his lover Hero." We're focusing on the 4th Abir's garden for that project, in the West Bank Village of Ein Yanoun where Combatants for Peace regularly meets. I'll have pictures available soon!
Thank you again for making all this possible! Your contribution in memory of a little girl, Abir Aramin, is a way to give Palestinian children a safe place to grow. We've got a long way to go to keep this tragedy from ever happening again but through the safe playgrounds, through Combatants for Peace, and through your commitment this dream is held in the light.
Good news is in the making and I'll be sending details as soon as I have them. I learned that we may be able to fund not just one by two Abir's Gardens: one in Al Aqaba Village and the other in Ein-Yanun!
Combatants for Peace will soon be sending the specifics, including type of equipment, where it's coming from, cost, etc. Combatants for Peace requested a playground in Ein-Yanun because their Nablus group has had ongoing contact with this small village, and a playground there would to strengthen CfP's work there.
Everyone involved is looking forward to getting started soon.
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