On May 18, 2015, you helped us reach our goal - 3,888 backpack kits with school supplies for Gaza’s neediest children, and donations are still coming in! Thank you for your support!
It has been over a year since since the shelling of Gaza began last summer. At the current rate, reconstruction will take more than seventy years to complete. Not a single home has been rebuilt. The blockade continues.
We must not lose hope that a brighter future is possible. In addition to backpacks, we are now sending thousands of children’s books, one of the most sought after non-essential items requests from families in Gaza.
Our book drive coordinator, Laila el-Haddad (shown above), author of Gaza Mom and Gaza Kitchen: wrote:
" My community here in Baltimore is collecting new books to put into each backpack because this is a way to nourish young minds, and nourish the goodness in us all. There is a tendency to view those in Gaza as victims requiring nothing more than sympathy and monetary donations, and the blockade as solely a blockade on the entry of food, rather than a blockade on freedoms and rights, such as the right to learn. But people everywhere long to give something tangible and useful, Sadaqah Jarayah, translated as Continous Charity — gifts if you will, that keep on giving. It is so difficult to have the opportunity to do that for Gaza. With this siege and destruction how do we give to help them build their future?”
In this spirit, hundreds of people from all different backgrounds donated to the bookdrive. From Adam, our lead volunteer coordinator who brought the project to mutliple Muslim Elementary and High Schools in New Jersey:
“The situation in Gaza is very critical. As we take life for granted, children in Gaza are not given the opportunity to grow and succeed in school because of the occupation. Being able to contribute to the book drive is really giving the gift of reading! Education is essential to the growth and success of Gaza. Working with my community and with Laila El-Haddad and her community to come together to collect books for the children of Gaza was a beautiful and selfless experience. The fact that people of all races and religions came together to contribute to the book drive showed the support and love we have for Gaza. I hope that when these books are delivered the people of Gaza will feel the support and love we are sending their way. The thought may seem simple to many, but supporting the development of these children is really setting the foundation for them to become successful doctors, engineers, and lawyers. We aren’t just sending books, we are building a brighter tomorrow.”
Now that we successfully reached our fundraising goal for the backpacks, the hard work of customs approval begins. Production of the backpack kits finished in June (photos shown) - all 3,888 kits now are awaiting clearance to be shipped from the supplier in Oklahoma to the East Coast community center that will send them across the sea.
We knew that getting approval from the Israeli Authorities wouldn't be easy. On June 2nd, we received formal approval from the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Finance authorizing our donation. The donation was then sent to COGAT (Israeli Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) for security approval before being cleared by Israeli customs. After over a month of delays, we have engaged our diplomatic networks. We have been calling COGAT’s offices, checking in regularly to remind them the importance of this shipment. Our elected representatives are calling the Israeli consul general in San Francisco to inquire on our behalf, and we are working diligently with the UNOPS team to ensure any questions are answered in due time. You can call your representative - tell them you donated to our project and ask them to inquire to the Israeli Consulate as to why approval is taking so long. Your calls make a difference. We remain committed and engaged, especially when proceedings are frustrating and difficult - a spirit of perseverance that the families in Gaza model every day.
Meanwhile, the blockade continues, against the advise of Israeli military officials who say that economic opportunity in Gaza is necessary to prevent another escalation of violence. School, now more than ever, proves itself to be an invaluable asset for children recovering from trauma - it provides them stability, a support network, and promotes dreams of the future. We will continue to nourish these dreams as we expand our network. As the BDS movement picks up steam across the country, we hope to build a movement to invest in education for Gaza's children, in the spirit of peace and prosperity for all.
Because we believe we will succeed, we are continuing our outreach. Last week, Donna and Kelly met with the United Church of Christ in Redwood City to discuss ways to partner on the next backpack container. Despite the challenges this project faces, we remain committed to reaching Gaza’s children and their families. Plans for the next container are already under way.
“It is a privilege and a blessing to be able to support the good efforts and accomplishments of Rebuilding Alliance. I especially appreciate the opportunity to help Gaza's children rebuild their lives and hope for learning in the form of a back-pack for school. I hope that people of faith will act out their faith by giving generously…."Walk their talk." - Rev. Dona Smith-Powers
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like assistance in contacting your representative by emailing email@example.com.
Also, tomorrow is a Global Giving Bonus Day - all donations will be matched 40%! If you or someone you know would like to give, consider purchasing a backpack for the next container, or support Rebuilding Alliance's other projects.
With great thanks,
Dear Friends of A Collective Song Music Center,
We are proud to inform you that thanks to your help, we are on our way to making this music center a reality! As of now, we have raised about $13,000! We have been able to do so thanks to you, our donors, and grants, which include a Microsoft YouthSpark matching grant. I am also happy to tell you that I am back at Rebuilding Alliance and I’ll be here this summer to work through the details to launch the Collective Song Music Center.
Over the past few months, we were able to reach out to more people and share this goal with them, with superb results. On May 3rd, I held a benefit concert at my school. There were fifteen excellent performers at the concert, ranging from professionals to students. The concert was a success, and embodied what we hope this music center will give the people of Al Aqaba.
Because of my concert, I was invited to speak at the Santa Clara County’s 14th Annual Palestinian Day on May 15th, which took us a step further in our path to creating the music center.
We are excited to begin our next steps toward implementing the center as soon as possible. Our upcoming goals include:
World-famous neuroscientist Oliver Sacks, whose book Musicophilia was an inspiration for this project, wrote in his book, “Rhythm and its entrainment of movement (and often emotion), its power to ‘move’ people, in both senses of the word, may well have had a crucial cultural and economic function in human evolution, bringing people together, producing a sense of collectivity and community.” We hope this music center will function in this way, acting as a constructive outlet will be a practical way to promote peace and bring the community together. We are immensely grateful for your support; it is thanks to you that this project is happening! We look forward to keeping you updated on how the project is progressing.
Of all our work at Rebuilding Alliance, this program is key because our advocacy keeps Palestinian homes, schools, playgrounds, and villages standing. There has been such hard news since the Israeli elections this spring, especially about the human rights of Bedouin communities living inside Israel, Palestinian communities inside Area C of the West Bank, and the people of Gaza facing continuing restrictions on rebuilding and personal travel. To respond to what is a worsening crisis, Rebuildling Alliance has been working to develop a stronger advocacy program. Your support of the U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages is deeply appreciated.
Over the last six months, we have expanded our advocacy work tremendously, with the following projects and campaigns:
1. Stay Human Conference Calls, putting Peace-makers on the line with Constituents and Congressional Staff
2. "Don't Say We Did Not Know" Speaking tour with Amos Gvirtz
3. Dr. Mona is free now, and with her family
4. Walking the Halls of Congress to Save Susiya
Justice, safety, no attacks (from settlers nearby), playing with our friends happily and freely, reconciliation, happiness, love, no occupation, birds, freedomCould these images of the children and their hope for their future be the images we see instead of the demolition of their homes and village?
Recently, Amos Gvirtz asked us to plan our next visit to meet with Congressional staff. He reviewed four cases recently decided by the High Court of Israel and said, "In a short time we lost everywhere." Asking your Senators and Representatives to call the Israeli Embassy may be one of the only ways left to keep the Palestinian Village of Susiya standing. If you haven't called your elected representatives yet, its not too late - you can learn more on how to contact Congress by clicking here.
For me, our recent trip to Washington DC really brought home the need for our creation of a Contact Congress mobile app. The patent has now been filed and I look foward to raising the funds needed to launch our advocacy mapping ideas very soon. Thank you again for making this work possible.
P.S. Our next Stay Human Conference Call takes place on Wednesday July 8th at 10am Pacific Time. Please click here to register.
P.P.S. Please mark your calendar for Wednesday July 15th when our next GlobalGiving Bonus Day will take place. GG is providing a 40% match that day. We ask your help to send our next team to walk the halls of Congress at the end of July, this time to keep Al Araqib, and the other Bedouin Villages in Israel, standing.