I am writing to let you know that through your support, 29 needy children were able to attend kindergarten at Al Aqaba's Al Haq Kindergarten this past school year. We transferred a grant of $5568 in March and that was enough to pay for 7.34 months of school for these 29 students. February, March, April, May, and June have quickly gone by, and the kindergarteners — including the scholarship students — have celebrated their graduations!
By the end of summer, Al Aqaba's kindergarten will receive applications for the new class of students. I write now to ask your help to raise the funds needed to provide scholarships to 30 kindergarten students for all 9 months of their school year. To do this, we'll need to raise at least $7396 (Tuition is 100NIS/month * 30 students * 9 months less 2.34 months of funds left over from this past year, as we started the scholarship fund mid-year). If we raise an additional $2000 we will offer stipends to 2 talented student teachers too.
From Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq, "Our Village of Al Aqaba remains safe. When things are scary, with the sound of military training underway near their homes, our kindergarten building and our teachers offer a good and positive place for the children. Please know your support for our kindergarten scholarships is more important than ever."
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 — and I think the match will go in the first 5 minutes.
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 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.
P.S. I am delighted to share photos from a recent workshop offered by artists Lily Yeh and Robert Shetterly in Al Aqaba Village. Rebuilding Alliance's own Ayat Omran helped out that day too, and the next day a wonderful mural took shape outside the Kindergarten!
Greetings from Ramallah! The scholarship project is really taking off, all because of you.
Earlier this year, Kindergarten Director Raheya Alsbaih and Mayor Haj Sami sent the list of children who would especially benefit from the scholarship program and their photos. From your donations we transferred a grant of $5,565.68 for the 26 children in families facing unemployment, financial difficulties, health program or who just show a particular aptitude to learn. I've attached a translated summary of the selection list.
As soon as Thai Hien Ho and I arrived in the West Bank we met with the Kindergarten Director to discuss the implementation of the scholarship program. Kindergarten Director Raheya explained, "The scholarship will not involve a transfer of funds to the families but instead the families will be privately notified that their fees are being waived. We will start reporting specifics back to you soon."
The photos sent to us as we announced this program show anxious, needy children in the cold of winter. Now, in springtime, they all blend in and with the care of their teachers and parents, they just shine. I've posted a few pictures from the recent Land Day celebrations on March 31st to give you a sense of how remarkable they are ... behind me were hundreds of moms snapping photos of their little ones.
This kindergarten is such a special place, filled with 130 students and now 20 more. A new grant from the British Consulate and the Welfare Association upgraded the kitchen to offer hot lunches. The Estonian Government continues to send a teacher every three months who lives at the guest house and teaches the little ones. Kindergarten Teacher Trainer Expert Abla Mahroun, who designed the kindergarten along with Engineer Laila Sbaih when Rebuilding Alliance first built it, came back to offer the teachers additional insight.
I wish I could stop my report there, reflecting back the beaming children in the bright sunny days of spring. The hard part is that for three days this past week, Al Aqaba Village was like the eye of a hurricane, in this case a booming mass of Israeli Army soldiers training with guns and mortar from all sides of the village. Everyone is safe, there was no shooting in the village itself, but machine gun fire, sonic booms, and tank fire can be really scary for children. The bus drivers and teachers modeled reassurance and calm.
If you would like to support our Kindergarten Scholarship 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. Please mark your calendar for noon, Wednesday April 16th through noon Thursday April 17th — and ask your friends to mark their calendar too.
I head back to Al Aqaba Village in just a few days time and will be happy to convey any questions you may have to the staff or to the children and get back to you. Please email me at contact@RebuildingAlliance.org or call me at 0119702313811.
All good news from Al Aqaba Village. The British Consulate and the Palestinian Welfare Foundation have provided a grant to update the furniture, books, and toys in the Al Haq Kindergarten — very exciting. We had the opportunity to join them when they visited in August for a walk-through. It was wonderful to bring forward Rebuilding Alliance's commitment — we built the Kindergarten and helped it expand in so many ways.
I hope you are as excited as I am by our new scholarship focus for this project! I have asked Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq and Kindergarten Principal Rawheya Alsbaih to tell us about the children who need scholarships and their families. They would like to give 60 children scholarships for Kindergarten — let's do it!
Please GIVE on Tuesday, Dec. 3rd when Microsoft's Youth Spark program will be matching all donations dollar for dollar. Please give as early as you can because their funds will run out quickly. Here's when the matching grant starts:
9:01am Pacific / Noon:01 Eastern / 5:01pm London / 7:01pm Jerusalem time
We have really good news. This amazing project in support of the kindergarten and schools in Al Aqaba Village, has been selected to be part of Microsoft’s Youth Spark matching grant program! This means that on #GivingTuesday, Dec. 3rd, Microsoft will match all donations dollar for dollar starting at 9am Pacific time — and they are giving away a total of $250,000.
What an incredible pleasure it is to hear Al Aqaba Village fill with children’s voices each morning as the school bus minivan brings more and more students from the surrounding towns and hillsides! This is especially important here, because demolition orders have been issued against the 95% of the structures including most of the homes, the mosque, the clinic, and the kindergarten. Our Al Haq Kindergarten (Al Haq means ‘justice’ in Arabic) is what keeps Al Aqaba Village standing, inspiring some 20 countries to invest in Al Aqaba and to provide a diplomatic channel that is the village's lifeline — but no matter how wonderful a building may be, what matters most is the children.
When the brilliant students at Foothill College's Rebuilding Alliance Club helped us launch this project, we called it "Teaching in a Village Under Demolition Orders." As you see, we’ve now renamed to call it “Scholarships for Children, Stipends for Young Teachers” to help the neediest children attend kindergarten tuition-free while continueing to provide stipends to student teachers. We moved support for the Library into its own project called, “Help the Ibn Rush’d Library Serve Youth in Area C” — and that new project qualified for the Youth Spark 1:1 matching grant too!
I know this project means a lot to you and I hope you will save the date to give on #GIvingTuesday. We learned in the Youth Spark training that even with $250,000 to give away, Microsoft’s Youth Spark 1:1 matching funds will likely run out in the very first hour. 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!Questions? Suggestions? Please give me a call 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!
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