Dear Friend, When I last wrote, the library had expanded and we were excited to bring business plan development advisers to work with the Ibn Rush'd Youth Entrepreneurs. Introductions have been made and first visits have happened — but we're not quite sure this is a good fit, so we are interviewing a second group of advisers as well. Do you know that our Ibn Rush'd Library and Youth Entrepreneurship program qualifies for the Microsoft Youth Spark Matching Grant? If you can make a donation today, please do.
Microsoft YouthSpark will match your donation today — Dollar for Dollar — starting at 6am Pacific / 9am Eastern and again at noon Pacific time / 3pm Eastern. They are giving away $350,000 today but the match will go very quickly, maybe in 5 min so please set your alarm for the exact hour in your time zone. Note: Microsoft will match up to $500 per project.Thank you again for giving wings to the wonderful Ibn Rush'd Library and Entrepreneurship Program. Sincerely,
Good news! The Ibn Rush'd Library has expanded!
"We expanded the library by moving the wall out over the walkway and also upgrading the restroom," said Mayor Haj Sami. "We will buy new books soon."
I am sending you photos of Librarian Kefah reading to a class of kindergarteners. Librarian Kefah is now signed-up in Beyond Access, a movement of people and organizations committed to the idea that modern public libraries help drive economic and social development. My daughter, Andrea Walker, took these pictures when she came to Al Aqaba with me in May.
Regarding the Ibn Rush'd Entrepreneurship program, the young people are eager to move forward with their frozen vegetable company. It seems like a good idea — but before committing funds, the next step is to develop a business plan. We have been looking for a mentor to help the young people and also to help the Rural Women's Association press forward with their respective business plans. Also, yet a third proposal is coming forward to both groups: goat-milk ice cream!
In September, I facilitated a panel discussion at the recent Social Capital conference in San Francisco (SOCAP'14), focused on construction financing in the West Bank's Area C. Through that presentation, we found our way to the Middle East Investment Initiative and their Techical Assistance Program (TAP) funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). This might be just the group to mentor Al Aqaba's youth entrepreneurs.
The Technical Assistance Program is provided without fees to Palestinian small businesses including start-ups. Priority is given to East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, and Area C of the West Bank. Here are the objectives:
We look forward to connecting everyone and sending you their business plans in our next update!
I sincerely thank you for your support of both the Ibn Rush'd Library and the Ibn Rush'd Entrepreneurship Program. Your donation has opened an important and exciting door for these students. We are all very grateful for your support and we look forward to keeping you updated as new connections are made and their business plans take shape.
Dear Friends, We are delighted to watch 15 young people, all from Al Aqaba Village, move forward in the Ibn Rush'd Entrepreneurship Club! They formed the club just before the April Youth Spark competition and here we are with another Bonus Day this week.These high school graduates (some already in college) are coming together to build one or more businesses that will provide them with jobs. They meet at Al Aqaba's Ibn Rush'd Library. First, Librarian Kefah held meetings with local experts to to help the students learn how to come up with good business ideas. At both the cheese and tea factories, they interviewed the managers and discussed marketing and management. They also met Mayor Haj Sami Sadiq and Raheya Alsbaih, director of the Rural Women’s Association, both inspiring leaders.
Then Librarian Kefah invited them to brainstorm their own business ideas. Among the many projects they thought of, the frozen seasonable vegetables seemed suitable for its minimal budget and resources, especially since the Goat Cheese Factory is receiving new freezers. Meanwhile, interest is growing around the possibility of bringing a high quality ice cream machine to Al Aqaba for goat milk ice cream. Their next step: to learn how to write a business plan. Meanwhile, Librarian Kefah is working to complete her training as a librarian. She recently completed training at the Al Bireh Public Library, a remarkable library in the large town next to Ramallah. She has also been joining cultural training programs in the nearby villages of Tamoun and Al Far'a.
Good news. This Wednesday June 25th is a bonus day with a dollar for dollar match for donations up to $1000. On Wednesday, Microsoft Youth Spark is giving away $200,000 in matching funds via GlobalGiving — I think the match will go in the first 5 minutes.
If you would like to give, please mark your calendar for Wednesday, June 25th and set your alarm for 9:01am Pacific, 10:01am Mountain, 11:01am Central, or Noon:01pm Eastern. Please click Ibn Rush'd Entrepreneurs Program for Area C Youth to give.
As always, please call me if you have questions or suggestions. My phone number is 650 325-4663.
A week ago Sunday, we met with Ms. Kefah Akram, the new librarian at the Ibn Rush’d Library in Al Aqaba. Raheya Alsbaih, director of the Rural Women’s Association, joined us as did Josie Shields-Stromsness who drove up from Bethlehem for our meeting. Josie is part of the Middle East Children’s Alliance and works with a number of library projects in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.
This day, May 16th, was the 11th anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s death in Gaza and we are here in this little village facing demolition orders on nearly all the buildings. We marked her anniversary by meeting to explore how to use the funds you’ve donated to best help children and youth through this wonderful library. We also used our meeting to develop our scholarship program for kindergarteners (but I’ll leave that for a separate report). Al Aqaba is holding steady through their good work, your support, and everyone’s intervention. I hope Rachel would be proud of our work.
Let me tell you more about our meeting and our follow-up visit the next day:
Just before our trip, Rebuilding Alliance’s Board approved the transfer of a grant of $4,326 for the Ibn Rush’d Library. Half of this will cover Kefah’s salary for the year, and the other half will be used to expand the wall of the library onto the covered porch to make the library bigger and include indoor access to the restroom. Mayor Haj Sami asked me to help make plans for Kefah’s library training at the AlAnwar Children's Library in Hebron.
Do you remember that the Ibn Rush’d Library project has been accepted into Microsoft Youth Spark grant program? On April 16th there will be a Bonus Day with Microsoft matching 50% to each dollar donated — please mark your callendar.
It was really fun to use our meeting to brainstorm about the entrepreneurship program for young people that the Ibn Rush’d Library will be offering as part of the Youth Spark grant. The next day we went on a Field Trip to Canaan Fair Trade to help Librarian Kifah learn more about entrepreneurship by seeing how wonderfully successful Canaan has become. Founder Nasser Abufarha will be returning next month and would be pleased to host a group of students to tell them how he came up with the idea of Fair Trade Olive Oil and what it took to get this wonderful business started. Librarian Kifah asked a ton of questions and got to thinking about a list of speakers. She'll send us her plans soon.
We also noted that the computers in the library are not currently connected to the Internet, in part because the mayor is afraid that everyone will just be on Facebook, not doing any real learning. To overcome that fear, we proposed uploading the offline educational content offered by www.worldpossible.org
Lastly, we asked Librarian Kifah and Kindergarten Director Raheya Sbaih to become members of the Beyond Access organization in the hope they can receive scholarships to attend their annual international conference this year or next.
Thank you again for your incredible support. Again, please mark your calendar for April 16th and give as early as you can that day to benefit by Microsoft's 50% match.
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