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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!
Jul 6, 2016

At long last, we've received permission to file full applications for Political Risk Insurance

Yes, at the State Department ... under their wing?
Yes, at the State Department ... under their wing?

Dear Friend,

After years of asking, Rebuilding Alliance is being granted permission to file full applications for Political Risk Insurance (PRI) to finance Palestinian construction, water delivery, and agricultural projects in the West Bank's Area C.  Despite the very real political risks facing Palestinian construction and agriculture in the 62% of the West Bank administered by Israel called 'Area C', until now, everyone has been blocked from applying for PRI.  However, following our meeting in May with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, we now have a green light to proceed.

According to OPIC, their insurance - combined with their financing options - allows U.S. businesses (including nonprofit organizations) to take advantage of opportunities in emerging markets, mitigating risk and helping them compete in a global marketplace. OPIC insurance provides innovative, comprehensive, and cost-effective risk-mitigation products to cover losses to tangible assets, investment value, and earnings that result from political perils including political violence and expropriation.  

With PRI, Rebuilding Alliance hopes to attract investment and donations at a much higher scale so to offer revolving loans to Palestinian villages,  women's associations, farmers' cooperatives, and Non-Governmental Organizations — including international NGOs — for their building of affordable housing and women's centers, their establishment of water delivery and irrigation systems, and maybe even for harvesting their olive trees and thereby cover their losses due to settler violence or failure of legal due process. 

Here's the go-ahead we received Mr. Steven L. Johnston, Managing Director, Political & Sovereign Risk in OPIC's Structured Finance & Insurance Department:

     Dear Donna, I have approved the registration for the water pipe project. You should have received a separate
     email this morning to this effect. That email also directs you to OPIC’s online portal for completing the application
     (Form 52). You will need to log in and complete and submit the application. 

Mr. Johnston goes on to write that they are allowing Rebuilding Alliance to file the full application for our Rebuiding to Remain affordable housing finance program in Al Aqaba Village and he encourages RA to resubmit our preliminary application for the Rural Women's Restaurant project too.

Each application is something similar to a business plan so there's lots of work ahead. I would like to complete 3-4 applications by the end of this month, so to have review, feedback and yes, approval, before September 21st.  That's International Peace Day, the day when our delegation of Palestinian children will be addressing Congress with their Pinwheels for Peace.  If the U.S. is to keep their villages standing, let's have the Political Risk Insurance in place for key projects in each of their villages so to offer these children tangible evidence that the U.S. government cares.

Thank you again for your support for our Rebuilding to Remain affordable housing finance program in Al Aqaba Village.  You believed in us from the start and that support, along with persistence and good advice along the way, opened doors. 

I'll keep you posted as we move forward.

Sincerely,

Donna

P.S.  There's a lot of work ahead and no guarantee of success.  However, with the Peace Process in shambles, this tangible effort to help Palestinian families hold on to their homes and land by enlisting insurance companies in their recovery feels worth the effort.  As James Thurber once said, "Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness."

Corridors of Power: we held 27 meetings in WashDC
Corridors of Power: we held 27 meetings in WashDC
Our hands-on Congressional briefing at the Senate
Our hands-on Congressional briefing at the Senate
World Bank's Multilateral Investmt. Guaran. Agency
World Bank's Multilateral Investmt. Guaran. Agency

Links:

Mar 15, 2016

Smart Kindergartners Shared Their Views on Peace

Dear Friends,

The school year is underway in Al Aqaba, and thanks to your generosity, 30 children are receiving a scholarship this year! We just sent $2,000 for the scholarships, and the children and their families are so glad to have your help.

Most of the boys and girls are orphans or from families with very limited income. Their families cannot afford to pay the tuition fees. This was the case for D., a girl who is currently receiving one of the scholarships you helped fund. Her father does not work and could not pay the monthly tuition for Kindergarten. Because he could not pay the installments, he said D. would not be able to attend school. Your scholarship changed all this -- D. gets to attend school with her 131 classmates and receive all the benefits an early Kindergarten education provides for her future. 

These 132 students come from near and far. Two bus drivers bring children every day from nearby towns and villages to learn alongside students who live in Al Aqaba. Many families are refugees from Al Aqaba, from the decades when the Israeli Army used this village for live-fire training exercises.  The kindergarten building was the first building Al Aqaba built (Rebuilding Alliance was proud to help) when Israel's High Court stopped the live-fire training inside the village in 2002.

The children learn important concepts that will help them be successful in first grade and beyond. Since 2008, students at the Kindergarten have also been creating Pinwheels for Peace, an activity that encourages children to express their vision of peace. Rebuilding Alliance's social worker, Fatma, saw this activity at the Kindergarten and is bringing it to South Hebron Hills. She uses the activity to create a safe space for children to open up about their unpeaceful experiences and as a gateway for healing trauma. 

Donna Baranski-Walker, Executive Director and Founder of Rebuilding Alliance, visited Al Aqaba's Kindergarten in December and saw first-hand how powerful making these pinwheels can be. Donna traveled to Gaza to deliver 3,888 backpacks kits filled with school supplies and children's books. Then she visited the Kindergarten in Al Aqaba and made Pinwheels for Peace with some of the students. The children wrote down what peace means to them and drew what it looks like, then fixed the paper edges to make their messages turn in the wind. 

Thoughtful visions of peace filled pinwheels and conversation, and leave no doubt in our minds that we're helping some pretty smart Kindergartners! Thank you. Peace can mean a lot of things, but for some of the Kindergartners in Al Aqaba, it is as simple as the opportunity to receive an education. 

I hope we can continue to increase our scholarships to this Kindergarten. Your donations are making such a difference in the lives of children, families, and their villages. Please continue your support so we can help even more smart Kindergartners in the future. 

Cheers and Gratitude,

Christina

P.S. On March 16 you can stretch your donation to Kindergarten Scholarships further! It's GlobalGiving's Bonus Day. GlobalGiving will match a percentage of the donations we receive between 6:00 am PST and 8:59 pm PST, which increases your impact. Please set your alarms!

Links:

 
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