I am delighted to bring this report to you. Combatants for Peace and the villagers of Yanun have agreed on a new site for the Abir's Garden Playground, and work has begun at last.
Muhanad is still the Palestinian coordinator of Combatants for Peace - Tel Aviv/Nablus group, Maya was the Israeli Coordator when we began but now Michalo has taken that role. I am getting reports from Michalo and Maya, with Muhanad copied. Next, we plan to send Ayat, Rebuilding Alliance's Communications and Outereach Officer, to join them for their next building day in Yanun.
One more thing you'll want to know about Yanun is that it faces very real attacks on people, homes, and crops by the nearby Israeli settler outpost called Givot Olam, a branch of the Itamar settlement. The attacks were so dangerous that villager evacuated in 2002, to return with the help of Palestinian, Israeli, and International activists. Now, the Ecumenical Accoumpaniment Program in Palestine and Israel has three or four people living in Yanun and Combatants for Peace continues their work with the village in solidarity to keep them safe.
As we reported in the spring, everyone looked forward to launching the project last June, only to learn that the landowner of the site in the center of the little town revoked permission to use that land.
When our Rebuilding Alliance team met with our partners, Combatants for Peace, and the playground designers in March we were planning the third Abir’s Garden Playground. It was an amazing and productive meeting. Remarkably, representatives of the Akraba Municipality, a large town nearby, promise to match all the funds we raised for this project! Akraba Town will provide their staff and equipment to do the earthmoving to complete the first two phases of the project!
It was remarkable to see the trust everyone placed in one another - Ein Yanun, Combatants for Peace, Akraba Municipatlity and Rebuilding Alliance representing all of you who have supported this work these many years. Akraba's matching grant means that the cost of this 3rd Abir's Garden playground is fully covered! Any additional funds we raise now will be for Combatants for Peace's children's theatre program.
Let's make it so. Today Wednesday, June 25th in just a few hours time, a remarkable a bonus day kicks off with a dollar for dollar match for donations up to $1000. Today Wednesday, June 25th, Microsoft Youth Spark is giving away $200,000 in matching funds via GlobalGiving — but please note, though the match will go in the first 5 minutes, there is also a bonus for most donors and most total donations.
Please set your alarm today for 9:01am Pacific, 10:01am Mountain, 11:01am Central, or Noon:01pm Eastern. Please click Scholarships 4 Children, Stipends 4 Young Teachers to give.
As always, please call me if you have questions or suggestions. My phone number is 650 325-4663.
Greetings from the West Bank, Palestine! A week ago Friday, Rebuilding Alliance's Accountant, Thai Hien Ho, and I were part of a remarkable meeting near Ein Yanoun at the home of the architect who designed this our third Abir's Garden playground. An engineer was also there to meet with us and quite a contingent of Combatants for Peace members, including both Israel and Palestinian members and Combatants for Peace board members. The meeting was gracefully conducted in three languages with Tel Aviv / Tulkarem Team Leaders Maya and Mohanad translating Hebrew and Arabic into English and back.
Our goal was to approve the plans for the third Abir’s Garden Playground and Youth Theater Program. I asked for the meeting because I was concerned that the playground plan presented to Rebuilding Alliance was too expensive at $24K. With the added cost, we would not be able to also fund the youth theater program. Remarkably by the end of the meeting a solution was found.
The Palestinian landscape architect, trained in Spain, stood by his design for the playground. He explained that the steep rocky grade requires extra work for leveling and to build the retaining walls, both for the lower playground and upper picnic area level. Combatants for Peace and Rebuilding Alliance were both impressed with his design and satisfied with his explanation.
Then magic happened: When I raised my concern about also being able to fund the Youth Theater program, a phone call was made to the mayor of Agraba. On behalf of the municipality of Agraba, the mayor agreed to match our grant, dollar for dollar! Project co-leader, Maya Katz, explained, "We have great cooperation with the Agraba Municipality. They provided a matching grant for our last project and our teams finished the parking lot and installed a garden at the new school for the village of Kirbet Twir."
So far we have transferred $12K to CfP so the mayor of Agraba confirmed that they will put in the starter $12K so that we'll complete the playground according to spec and launch the theater program! Combatant for Peace Bilal said, "We are really pleased to begin Phase 1 of the Abir's Garden playground construction in a few days time!"
If you would like to support our project again, one great day to do this will be on Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 starting at 12:00:01 PM (noon) EDT when Microsoft's Youth Spark will provide a 50% match to donations (up to $1,000 per donor). The bonus competition will end April 17th, 2014, at 11:59:59 AM EDT.
NOTE: The project that has the most unique donors on Microsoft YouthSpark's Bonus Day will receive an additional $10,000 from Microsoft. We CAN DO this: Abir's Garden reached the most donors in the last YouthSpark bonus!
Please mark your calendar for noon, Wednesday April 16th through noon Thursday April 17th!
Please call me or send email as questions arise and I'll do my best to connect you with the Combatants for Peace team! My email is Contact@RebuildingAlliance.org and my phone here is 1-970-599-331-2811.
Thank you again for all that you've done to make this remarkable project a reality.
P.S. After the meeting, one of the Combatants for Peace took us to visit Ein Yanoun so that Thai and I could take pictures at the empty site of the playground. One of the villagers introduced us to the three internationals who are living in the village and working with the villagers to keep everyone safe. It is a real challenge and very scary — this village is surrounded by 5 settlements with very threatening settlers. We want to help everyone there to stay in touch with all of you, our Abir's Garden Playground donors, so that in any future moment of need we can all relay their call to our elected officials to rouse the diplomatic corps. Thank you again.
"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!
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