Rebuilding Alliance

Rebuilding Alliance is dedicated to rebuilding war-torn communities and bringing the world together to make them safe. Our vision is a just and enduring peace in Israel and Palestine with equal value, opportunity, and security for all.
Dec 21, 2016

Next steps in sending solar-powered lights to Gaza

As we near the end of the year, we are so thankful to those who have contributed to the Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children project! 

Good news:  the Mpowered company is providing an in-kind matching grant!  For every Luci Original light we send to Gaza's children, they will also send one Luci EMRG light too!   This means we can ask our NGO partners to give each family three Luci Originals and a Luci EMRG for each child!

Your incredible support over this past year has allowed us to really ramp up since this project.  We launched this project nearly a year ago because the daily rolling blackouts make even the simplest of tasks so difficult in Gaza. How can kids do their homework and study in the evening when the sun has gone down? Kerosene lamps and candles are too dangerous – there had to be another option.

Our first pallet of Luci Lights arrived in Gaza in April and was distributed by our Palestinian NGO partners, including Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, the Women’s Project Center in Rafah, and the Al Basma Club for the Disabled. I was able to be there to help with distribution and the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme team had me join their social workers to go with them to each family's home.  Some were living in tents, some in caravans (mobile homes like in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina) while awaiting a new house.  Others were in their new house already or moved-in even during construction.  All had experienced terrible loss.  All I had to give was our little light - and how graciously and warmly they were received and appreciated.

The second pallet arrived in June and the Al Basma Club for the Disabled managed distribution to the disabled community in Northern Gaza.  This second pallet was particularly meaningful because it arrived during the holy month of Ramadan, when parents give small lanterns to their children (called a fanoos) as a reminder to be a light in the darkness. They also included all 90 families in one of the caravan parks.  Back in April, we were only able to give them to 5 families and that nearly caused a riot.   I kept my promise: now every family received one - a caravan park filled with light. 

Our third pallet arrived in September, and the Women's Program Center in Rafah carefully and thoughtfully distributed them to children and families in need.  These photos and the delightful video by photographer Mohammad Mansur are all from the 3rd shipment.

"Yes, our Luci lights are still working!  We are very happy with them" reports Kareem the oldest child (now adult) in the family whom Rachel Corrie sought to protect.  Kareem and his wife just had their first child.

We're placing our order now for shipment of our 4th pallet - much bigger this time:   2880 Luci Originals plus 2880 Luci EMRG.  Since Israeli and Palestinian Customs had only approved the first 3 pallets, we are now applying for pre-approval for our next three pallets.  The State Department and members of Congress are standing by to help if we experience any delays — so far so good.

Thank you again for supporting the Brighten the Future of Gaza’s Children project and for being a light in the darkness! Please let us know if you would like to raise money for this project by hosting a giving table with Luci Lights at your place of worship or school — or a talk at your Rotary Club.  We hope to bring a speaking from Gaza in the year to come and are starting now to work through the details.

Links:

Nov 28, 2016

When music sustains you

Our students are performing!
Our students are performing!

Rebuilding Alliance is so very proud to be partnering with the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music to bring music instruction to the children and community of Al Aqaba Village!

I recently learned that the visionary maestro who comes to Al Aqaba each week accompanied by the young cello teacher is a very famous man.  Mr. Mhammad Fadel is the founder of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music!   Let's find a way to bring the gifted teachers and children on tour -- maybe they can play for Congress on International Peace Day this year!

Today, Giving Tuesday actually starts at 9:01pm Pacific time Monday! GlobalGiving is matching 50% on each dollar donated up to $1000. If you can make a donation, large or small, please do!

The musice program is in full swing in Al Aqaba and they students have already travelled to Bethlehem to hold a concert in early November!  They spent the night there and attended workshops at the Athear Center!

Here's how the music teachers describe the outcome of the music program in Al Aqaba so far:

  • 39 children were introduced to music education enhancing their music skills;
  • Al Aqaba children participating in ESNCM music performances;
  • Al Aqaba community more open to cultural life.

Maestro Mohammad Fadel writes,

"Through the outreach programs, there was a noticeable improvement in the psychosocial wellbeing of students, their personalities, attitude and behavior. They are happy to learn music. Moreover, students show a higher commitment towards music education and have developed the ability to perform to a diverse audience including their families and friends. Parents and families of students have more commitment towards music education of their children which is evident in their commitment to bring the children to music classes during the academic year as well as the summer program which often requires commuting from surrounding villages."

Here's the goal for the project going forward:

Relying on the cooperation with RA, ESNCM considers the outreach program at Al Aqaba, Tubas, very important in terms of targeting marginalized communities and expanding music education in Palestine facilitating access to music education and appreciation and positively impacting the subject community.

Phase two builds on the work done in the first year in Al Aqaba. It aims at sustaining and strengthening the music education program established during phase one of the project. The positive impact on the children of Al Aqaba and its community as well as the willingness of those children to be involved in music education is an opportunity that supports the continuity of the music education program.

The second phase focuses on enhancing the music education of the enrolled students and involves a weekly two-hour session The sessions will include full class work, ensemble work and small group technical study. The focus will remain on string instruments particularly violin and cello. Al Aqaba students will perform to their community and they will be involved in the other ESNCM activities particularly the annual showcase to present their work through the year which enables them to interact with other students from other areas and different levels enhancing their group performance skills as well as exposure to a different audience.

Tonight is a great time to donate!  Thank you again for your support!


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Nov 28, 2016

A kindergarten, the heart of Al Aqaba Village

This scholarship means a lot to Gina
This scholarship means a lot to Gina

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your support for this important program!   This year, there are 140 students at the Al Aqaba Kindergarten and 20 children have been invited to attend on scholarship.  Each scholarship covers their fee of 100NIS ($26) per month and gives them full access to the wonderful environment of the Al Haq (Truth) Kindergarten including a nourishing breakfast.

I am happy to tell you that tonight, Global Giving will be matching all donations to this project starting at 12:01am Eastern Time Tuesday until the funds last.  Please click Give Now any time after 12:01am Eastern / 9:01pm Pacific time and your donation will be matched 50% to the dollar!

Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq worked with the Director of the Al Haq (Truth) Kindergarten to provide this report and sends the following message:

"This year, we chose 20 children for scholarship. They are in need of grant assistance because they are poor, orphans, handicapped, or those with chronic disease. Here are the first names of each child who was awarded a scholarship this year: Toliyn, Jod, Alkarim, Yousef, Madea, Qais, Oagdi, Mahmood, Asil, Zad, Mny, Anwar, Hussein, Aaman, Sidera, Agd, Abdllah, Farah, Saud, and Gina. We would especially like to tell you about Gina. She and her family face big challenges because her mother and sister are riddled with cancer. Her father does not have work other than in the fields and therefore can not pay the kindergarten fees.
At our kindergarten, Gina has encouragement and attention, a healthy meal, and a safe place to play.  Please tell Rebuilding Alliance's donors how very much your support means to these children and the whole Al Aqaba community."

I am also delighted to report that Al Aqaba's new park opened last spring, right next to the kindergarten.  Also, through grants from the Welfare Association and Anera, the kindergarten itself was renovated and a new playground installed at last!  Yet I must write too about the very real challenges Al Aqaba Village faced in the past few months.  A young couple's new, makeshift home was demolished just next to the village in September.  Especially sad was that diplomats chose not to intervene.  What that means for Rebuilding Alliance is that we will become more public now in our advocacy, using social media to engage the help of diplomats and legislators as we work to prevent demolitions.

Thankfully, the next crisis in Al Aqaba did receive U.S. diplomatic response.  Just after the demolition, the Israeli Army entered Al Aqaba Village and began training exercises, shooting from between the homes.  This was in violation of an agreement that the Israeli Army signed with Al Aqaba Village in 2001.  I reached the lawyer who negotiated that agreement and she immediately called the Israeli Army - the shooting stopped that day, but the next day they were there again, guns blazing, people terrified and some close calls.  I called Atty. Netta and I also reached the U.S. Ambassador's office who immediately intervened.  The shooting stopped, the soldiers left and this time they did not come back.  Since that time Atty. Netta has been meeting with all the villagers, local government representatives, and land-holders (even the office of the Latin Patriarchate is asked to join, as they are major land holders in this area) to assure the safety of families throughout the area.

Al Aqaba's Kindergarten provides a safe, wonderful place for the children to play, learn and grow.  It is the heart of the village.   Your support for this scholarship program makes that possible.  

Just $234 will provide a kindergarten scholarship to cover one child's entire year of schooling.  Our goal is to raise $4680 on Tuesday to cover the costs for all 20 children.

If you can, please give as early as you can in GlobalGIving's Bonus Day competition so that you donation will be matched. Thank you again.

Sincerely,

Donna

A busy day at Kindergarten
A busy day at Kindergarten
Learning to count and draw and write with beads
Learning to count and draw and write with beads
A good start for this scholarship student
A good start for this scholarship student
The kindergarten percussion orchestra begins
The kindergarten percussion orchestra begins
Balloons, teamwork, motor skills, and exercise!
Balloons, teamwork, motor skills, and exercise!
 
   

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