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 4, 2016

Let Music Lead the Way!

Music is in the air as the third grade students in the Al Aqaba Village strum the strings to their violins! The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music sends not one but two Music teachers to Al Aqaba each week. Violin and Viola teacher, Muhammad Fadel, enthusiastically counts, conducts, and cajoles the students’ emerging music and encourages their proper playing technique.

 The most accurate term describing the atmosphere within the classroom could only be “endless excitement.” 

Our very own Donna Baranski-Walker had the pleasure of visiting the classrooms in December, when this project was just getting on its feet. Donna recalls the happiness of the children as they rushed into the Mayor’s office to pick-up their instruments. As they were awaiting the arrival of the children, the cello teacher, Daniele Spada, began playing classical music and Mayor Haj Sami’s ordinary office became a portal to another world.

“It brought back memories of Lina and the concert she organized to first raise funds for this project,” recounted Donna. “With over 20 professional and student performers, Lina helped me understand what Peace sounds like… and here was that sound once again.” 

The vision of the head music teacher is similar. Muhammad Fadel has been teaching music for the past 21 years. His dream is for all of his 140 students in and out of Palestine to play in one big unifying concert. 

He believes, “Music will unite the people.”

And with that, we are proud to announce that the students of the Al Aqaba village have been invited to join fellow students to perform at two universities, Birzeit and An-Najah. The students are so excited! Mayor Haj Sami says that for many, it will be their first visit to a big city or to a university. They will embark on their journey the 23rd of April early in the morning for an intensive rehearsal following by the much anticipated Unity Concerts at each location. With your help of just $20 we will be able to fund for one student’s tour including food and lodging for the duration of their trip. What’s even more exciting, if donations are made on March 16th, GlobalGiving will match all donations up to $1000 by 50%! So mark your calendars and help send all 41 students from Al Aqaba.

Thank you again for all of your help and support. Al Aqaba is building a strong and peaceful community, and you are a part of that, spreading love and unity through music.

And 4 girls!
And 4 girls!
Just beginning
Just beginning

Links:

Feb 12, 2016

Soon to place order for first pallet of Luci Light

A Breakthrough!  We found a way to ship donations directly to Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations in Gaza — something no one knew about.

Our plan is to send a first pallet of solar-powered lights to the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, to be distributed to children in need and their families in Gaza.   

We hope to raise 14K by Valentine’s Day.

“It’s not about a light recharged by solar energy.  It’s about hope, a small gift that brings a smile and reminds us there is a life to live and wishes for better future.
10 years of electricity shortages have dumbed our souls to only retreat and give up.  
Your help, your light inspires us to know that Goodness still is alive in this world, still alive in your heart beat, giving us warmth to continue and believe in the chance for peace and a better life.” 
          —  Ameer in Gaza City, who tested a Luci Light with his family

Last Friday, Feb. 5th, Rebuilding Alliance placed the down payment for the purchase of our first pallet of solar-powered Luci Lights for the children of Gaza.   With your help, we'll pay the remainder for this pallet, and put a down payment on the next. With your help, we'll ship by the end of this month, in time for students to   use the Luci Lights to study for their finals.

You ask, 'Will they let it in?'  In preparation, Rebuilding Alliance is drawing on everything we've learned about shipping to Gaza to get this pallet, and the next two pallets, through: 

  • In December, we sent Luci Light samples to the Israeli Customs office - they saw no problem; 
  • Last week, the Palestinian Customs office gave their approval for the donation and forwarded forms to secure pre-clearance in Israel; 
  • To assure timely Customs approval, we asked our Senators, Representatives and the U.S. State Department to help today.  With their assistance, we've cleared our past shipments, every time.

When Gaza Community Mental Health Programme receives these lights, their staff will distribute them to children in therapy and to their siblings.

We have plenty of children who are engaged in our play therapy and counseling programs. We can just give them the solar lights at the end of their debriefings.  These usually take place just before the start of final exams.  This is my thought for now, and I know the teams here will come up with more ideas for sure.”  — Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei, Executive Director of GCMHP

Today is a good day to send a Valentine's Day gift to Gaza's Children, in the name of someone you love. Please Give a Little Light to Gaza’s Children, with Love

Sincerely,
Donna

Links:

Dec 30, 2015

The Very Best Thing: 3 more families moved home

Mayor Haj Sami, minaret in the shape of peace sign
Mayor Haj Sami, minaret in the shape of peace sign

The best thing I heard all year is what's happening in Al Aqaba Village. 

"Donna, three more families moved into their new homes," said Mayor Haj Sami as we traversed the street.  "Look, they painted with gold and cream, just like the first three.  Someday my whole village will be painted gold and cream, and everyone will know us a a beautiful village of Peace." 

As we finished the first three homes in the Rebuilding to Remain program, and the families moved in, some nine other families applied for building permits to the Al Aqaba Village Council.  With village-issued permits in hand, they started building their homes with their own money, with their own designs, and at their own pace.  As they neared completion, Mayor Haj Sami asked the Future for Palestine Foundation (Dr. Salam Fayyad's NGO) to help by providing finishing grants — and so three more families moved into their home!

As you may remember, we used the funds provided in this project to crowdfund construction loans to build the first three homes in the Rebuilding to Remain Program, using designs developed by award-winning architect Hani Hassan.  Our commitment was $20,000 per home but the total cost of each home was $33,000.  In the end, Rebuilding Alliance was one of the groups that helped finish the homes as well. 

Our three Rebuilding to Remain families continue to pay back their rotating construction loans, not to Rebuilding Alliance (we're not yet able to meet the PA Government's requirements to offer loans), but to the Al Aqaba Cooperative Credit Union.  Now, completion of these three new homes comes about through funding from the Future for Palestine Foundation. 

We currently have $4500 in the Rebuilding to Remain account and we would like to offer one or two finishing loans to the other houses where work is underway.  To do this Rebuilding Alliance must register a branch office in Palestine and partner with a loan-making institution who can meet the significant threshold requirements of the Palestinian Monetary Authority.  We're almost there.

Working with our law team at Ittqan Law in Ramallah, we've ready to open our branch office in Palestine as soon as we hire a general manager.  Local banks have offered to help us administer construction loans in accordance with the threshold lending requirements.  We need to raise the funds that form the basis for these loans and I believe this would be much easier if Rebuilding Alliance's construction financing qualified for Political Risk Insurance (PRI).   That way, we could give you, our donors, the sound assurance that if these lovely homes were to be demolished, there would be a way to help the families rebuild.

Rebuilding Alliance's request for PRI is going up to very high levels at the US State Department, the National Security Council and also to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (the quasi-US governmental agency that provides PRI in all other parts of the world).   If it gets stuck again (I've been working on this for more than 3 years),  our next step could be in the form of a petition asking people to sign if they are willing to commit U.S. taxpayer money to help Palestinian families rebuild their homes if their neighborhoods are demolished.

No matter what, as you can see, Mayor Haj Sami is moving forward.   His new Park for Families, just outside the Kindergarten and next door to the mosque, is attracting hundreds of people each night!   Delegations from European and Asian countries stop by daily.   He knows that the only way to save a village is to build something worthy of saving, and the only real protection against demolition is our collective ability to get policy-makers worldwide to help. What a remarkable model Al Aqaba has become!

Thank you again for supporting the construction of those first three homes and for making dreams real.

Sincerely,

Donna

Here
Here's the first of three new homes!
Here
Here's the second - and another nearing completion
Just across from Sadeq
Just across from Sadeq's House!
And here
And here's the third house!
Al Aqaba
Al Aqaba's remarkable park
Panorama of the Kindergarten Bldg & Park at night
Panorama of the Kindergarten Bldg & Park at night
 
   

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