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.
Mar 13, 2014

Greetings from a rainy, blustery Jerusalem

Rain, Hail, Thunder, Lightning in Jerusalem
Rain, Hail, Thunder, Lightning in Jerusalem

Dear Friend,

Greetings from Jerusalem! Rebuilding Alliance’s Accountant and Assistant Project Manager, Thai Hien Ho, and I arrived yesterday to a rainy, blustery, thunder-stormy Jerusalem.

Tomorrow we’ll be meeting with the team at the UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) who wrote the newly released, “Area C Vulnerability Profile”. As stated in the report, “An estimated 297,900 people live in 532 residential areas in Area C, comprising some of the most vulnerable communities in the West Bank in terms of humanitarian needs.” (see attached link).   If you've been looking at the West Bank via GoogleMaps, Area C looks so very empty — the villages have already disappeared.   That's a problem we should be able to fix.   With the help of a friend at Google, Thai and I will be conveying UNOCHA’s data to the mapping team at Google so that those missing 532 residential areas including some 148 Palestinian towns will show up on Google’s maps of the West Bank.

When I think about all that Rebuilding Alliance does, I feel that this project, the U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages, is one of our most important.   I’m delighted to report that we’ve used project funding to purchase a GPS camera and also MapAnything Software to help build the software app that will make it easier to contact congress.  

Here’s what we plan to do on this trip:

1.   We want the U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages to build on our success in keeping one village, Al Aqaba, standing despite demolition orders issued on 97% of the village including nearly all the homes, the medical clinic and our kindergarten.   What’s worked is our collective engagement with congressional staffers who call the U.S. State Department and the Israeli Embassy at their constituents’ request as soon as demolition bulldozers are on the move. We hope to meet with the American Consulate in Jerusalem to explore how to extend this to other at-risk villages;

2. We are in touch with Reverend Yoshii and the Friends of Wadi Foquin Village who are also visiting the area. Their congressional briefing was very successful but in January, the Israeli Army destroyed some 200 newly planted olive trees in Wadi Foquin.   That’s the type of destruction we hope can be avoided by developing a contact congress “early warning system” approach, much like we’ve done in Al Aqaba.

3. We’re working with a group of UC Berkeley Computer Science Students who are part of a chapter called, “Code the Change” to develop better mapping tools for projects like this, both as a way to raise funds for construction and tree planting projects and also as a way to monitor progress over time and build advocacy to keep each project area safe too.  Their prototype may be ready next month!

4. We look forward to meeting the legal team at Rabbis for Human Rights to hear about their lawsuit to assure villages in Area C to plan their future growth. Thai and I hope to meet with them to explore how we can focus U.S. attention on this important concept through our advocacy software.

Thank you again for your support of the U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages and for your patience as we work through our software development phase. This is such a critical time — I hope our software app. will be ready soon, soon enough to keep the villages standing in Area C.

Sincerely,

Links:

Jan 22, 2014

A Good Way to Finish, at Last

Nabil and Safa eagerly wait for their home
Nabil and Safa eagerly wait for their home

Dear Friend,

I am happy to tell you that work has resumed to finish our first three Rebuilding to Remain homes in Palestine. 

Nearly 700 donors like you helped Rebuilding Alliance meet our Rebuilding to Remain fund raising goal, and we built the first 3 homes as promised in Al Aqaba Village in the Jordan Valley. This is one of the areas of the West Bank that is currently under demolition orders by the Israeli Army, Area C.  We worked directly with the families to design energy efficient homes, together daring to draft Palestinian Building Permits where none existed, and created the first mortgage loan program for Area C.

Instead of waiting for the finishing grants promised by the Palestinian National Authority (its been over one year now), the families have agreed to extend their mortgage loan and Rebuilding Alliance is raising the funds caused by that shortfall to buy the doors, windows, tiles, and plumbing to finish so they can move in.  Thanks to recent donations we are transferring $7000 this month in extended mortgage loans and will transfer additional loans each month as soon as donations arrive. 

If only a small amount is raised each month, the families have decided to finish the homes one by one instead of finishing all simultaneously.  They declined to draw straws to choose which home is finished first.  Instead, Nabil, Safah, Othman and Sara all decided that Sadeq’s house should be finished first because Sadeq’s wedding waits for the day he can bring his bride home.

As you can see in the attached itemized budget, the total finishing costs for all three homes is $38,862.   The families will be doing the painting, reducing the total to $33,417.   With our transfer of $7000, we just need $26,417 to finish. 

If we could finish all three at the same time it would be both safer and also, newsworthy as the village will hold a grand homecoming celebration that will be truly inspiring.   All three homes could be finished in early March if all of us make a one-time donation of $50.    Let’s make this happen.

If you would like to join me for that Homecoming celebration  (and maybe even Sadeq’s wedding), please consider travelling with me on Rebuilding Alliance’s first-ever study tour, February 24-March 6th.   Please give me a call if you would like to discuss a major donation or would like more information about the study tour.  My cellphone is 650 440 9667.

I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,
Donna

Future home for Sadeq and his bride
Future home for Sadeq and his bride
Sophia at Othman & Sara
Sophia at Othman & Sara's home - they visit daily

Attachments:
Dec 23, 2013

Dreams Made Real

Imagine 300 women dancing in RWA Wedding Hall!
Imagine 300 women dancing in RWA Wedding Hall!

Dear Friend of the Rural Women's Center,

The Rural Women’s Association (RWA) in Al Aqaba dreamt of building a community center to generate jobs.  Imagine 300 women dancing in the wedding hall, with the RWA preparing the banquet!  In August, Australian Designer Hana Hakim, Palestinian architect Renad Shequerat, and the RWA worked with us to finalize plans for the Rural Women’s Center — and our designs touched your heart.  Together we won GlobalGiving’s Regional Bonus Day! 

Your support on the Bonus Day led to a big surprise.  That win resulted in an offer by  the Catholic Church to lease the Rural Women’s Association a vacant 15th century convent in nearby Tayasir, and RIWAQ Center for Architectural Conservation offered an 80% matching grant for restoration!   The Rural Women’s Association is interested and the designers and architect are delighted.     Next step: a site visit by the RWA and RIWAQ with the Office of the Latin Patriarchate to explore restoration, discuss terms, and decide how to protect the 3rd Century mosaics there.

Generous donor, what do you think?   The new proposal is to transform an abandoned 15th Century century convent into a thriving community center run by the remarkable Al Aqaba Rural Women's Association, the group that has been our partner for nearly 10 years now.   It is still very much a green building, but now instead of $200K in project costs,  we'll see a significant reduction in costs as well as matching grants and good alliances.   Does this work for you?

I look forward to your reply.   Feel free to give me a call at (650) 440-9667 if you have any questions or suggestions.

Sincerely,

 


Here is the 15th Century Convent in Tayasir!
Here is the 15th Century Convent in Tayasir!
Inside the Convent
Inside the Convent
From the rooftop
From the rooftop
Another view inside the convent
Another view inside the convent
One of the concepts by Designers Hakim & Wheib
One of the concepts by Designers Hakim & Wheib

Links:

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