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.
Jul 29, 2015

Invitation to Conference Call with Senate Staffer

Dear Friend,

Your calls to the House and Senate are working!  On July 17th, Congresswoman Eshoo plus 10 others sent a public letter to Secr. of State Kerry.   Repr. Loretta Sanchez sent her public letter soon after.   On July 28th,  Senator Diane Feinstein sent a public letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, writing, "Instead of taking action to demolish the village, the ICA [Israeli Civil Administration] should reexamine its decision to deny Susiya's petition for a master plan, so that the area's Palestinian villagers can live in peace and with legal certainty."  It is being reported in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz.

I am writing now to invite you to join a 30 minute briefing with your Senators' staff.   You can dial in from home or work, on a phone or a computer.  Rebuilding Alliance is setting up these up with all 99 other senators' senior staff for foreign policy and we can host up to 100 constituents on each call.   Please check the schedule here, http://www.rebuildingalliance.org/join-a-call-with-your-senator/ , then click Register Now

Today, we have calls with Senate staff as follows:

10am PST  (ND-D) Senator Heitkamp, Matt Squeri
11am PST (RI-D) Senator Whitehouse, Colleen Costello
12pm PST (OR-D) Senator Merkley, Tedros Abraham
1pm PST (MN-D) Senator Klobuchar, Ben Driscoll

Here's Thursday's schedule,

11am PST (ME-D) Senator King, Jon Greenert
11:30am PST (IN-D) Senator Donnelly, David Park

Thank you again for making this work possible.  Phone calls from Constituents are filling a void, prompting the U.S. enagement needed to give Palestinian villagers a tangible way to hold on to their homes and land.   Please keep calling so that your Senator will join Senator Feinstein to assure, "the area's Palestinian villagers can live in peace and with legal certainty."

Sincerely,

Donna Baranski-Walker
Founder and Executive Director, Rebuilding Alliance

P.S.  Our next step is to bring Susiya's children and their parents to visit Congress on International Peace Day, Sep. 21st.  We're working on visa applications now.
P.P.S.  If you live in the SF Bay Area and have some time available, come join our Human Rights Call Center — right now we're calling Senate staff and sending emails each day to schedule these conference calls. 

Links:

Jul 15, 2015

You helped us reach our goal! Now, the hard part...

Our volunteers with hundreds of donated books!
Our volunteers with hundreds of donated books!

Dear friends, 

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 kelly@rebuildingalliance.org.

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,

Kelly Leilani 

Adam and Laila celebrate with friends and family
Adam and Laila celebrate with friends and family
Finished backpack kits in Oklahoma!
Finished backpack kits in Oklahoma!
People keep donating books!
People keep donating books!
Production team putting the kits together!
Production team putting the kits together!
Brand new school supplies for children in Gaza
Brand new school supplies for children in Gaza

Links:

Jul 10, 2015

Let's Start At The Very Beginning

Lina describing the goals of the benefit concert
Lina describing the goals of the benefit concert

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.

  • Zach Chun, a student clarinetist and one of the performers at the benefit concert, said, “The gift of music is something everyone deserves.  Through Lina's project we are able to bring more moments of happiness into the lives of others.

  • Award-winning qanun player Ali Paris, who also performed at the benefit concert, said, “Lina’s dedication to this great cause is very powerful, and with her help and others’ who have the same level of global appreciation of world causes, peace will spread and wars will end."

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:

  1. Arranging for a teacher--The Edward Said Conservatory of Music in Ramallah has expressed interest in providing a music teacher for the center. Providing a teacher will make a world of a difference not only in the children’s experience, but in the long-term effects that the music center will have on the village.
  2. Confirming the location of the Collective Song Music Center at the Ibn Rush'd Library in Al Aqaba,
  3. Arranging for the village to interview the music teacher.
  4. Purchasing or renting equipment (instruments, music books, etc.) to arrive in Al Aqaba by the end of the summer--Although we hope to raise about $22,000 for this project, we have already raised enough to begin tangibly creating the center in Al Aqaba.

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.

Best wishes,

Lina Karamali

Ali Paris and Briana Di Mara
Ali Paris and Briana Di Mara
Performing at the benefit concert
Performing at the benefit concert
Lina speaking at Palestinian Day
Lina speaking at Palestinian Day
Palestinian Day
Palestinian Day
Zach Chun
Zach Chun

Links:

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