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 31, 2015

Grassroots 'insurance' at its best

Stay Human Conference Calls with Congress
Stay Human Conference Calls with Congress

Dear Friend,

Greetings from Ramallah!   Kelly Leilani Main, Rebuilding Alliance’s Assistant Project Manager, and I are here with Ayat and Niveen, our team in Palestine. We came to coordinate the installation of our Birthing Center in Ein Al Beida and our Prenatal Clinic in Al Aqaba — and we’re using this 6 week visit to move our projects forward.

Three weeks ago, I picked Kelly up at the Ben Gurion Airport, making it back to Ramallah just in time to attend the UN’s Shelter Cluster Meeting.   That’s the meeting of all the international Non-Governmental Organizations who are working as best they can to provide shelter in the West Bank and in Gaza following the demolition of homes and schools.   At that meeting, UN Habitat presented their report on Master Planning in Area C and cited the Palestinian Village of Al Aqaba's decision to issue its own building permits as a model for all villages in Area C.

Thanks to your support, we're seeing that a combination of (a) solid legal representation and (b) village master planning,  coupled with (c) grassroots advocacy to press for (d) diplomatic engagement really works to keep Palestinian homes, schools, playgrounds, and villages standing in Al Aqaba.  We've been learning a lot as we work to keep Al Aqaba Village standing -- so now we're working to expand this advocacy to other Palestinian Villages and to Gaza too.

This project, the U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages, encompasses the "make them safe" part of Rebuilding Alliance's mission. It is key to all our rebuilding work and it is important that it extends far beyond Rebuilding Alliance’s own projects to address the safety of all Palestinian villages and neighborhoods at risk of destruction.   On this trip, Israeli author activist Amos Gvirtz took us to visit the Israeli town of Al Araqib that was demolished 81 times before our visit, and one time more, afterwards. We also joined the Villages Group to visit Um Al Kheir, south of Hebron in the West Bank.  I'll write more about these visits soon, on Rebuilding Alliance's Facebook page.

Here’s what Hamed Qawasmeh, area representative to UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right and a member of The Villages Group had to say about our Stay Human Conference Calls with Congress, "Working in coordination with Rebuilding Alliance is one of the corner stones of the community-based approach taken by Umm Al Khair to save itself from forced displacement. The community has found it very valuable to engage in the conference calls held by RA as it proved to be useful in providing the necessary pressure needed to stop the bulldozers in their tracks. The community WILL continue to engage with RA so that people worldwide will join in advocating for its own survival.”

We’ve spent this past year ramping-up the U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages by developing education and advocacy events in parallel with the development of better communications technology to advance that advocacy. This was by necessity, not by choice — the crisis of home demolitions in Area C of the West Bank and last summer’s crisis of the massive bombing and destruction of Gaza's neighborhoods plus very real terror of rocket attacks and attacks on peacemakers in Israel required immediate and constant response.

We’ve held seven Stay Human Conference Calls with Congress — and each one generates remarkable response from Congress as well as new project opportunities.  Senator Grassley is now following up on a constituent request about the village of Um Al Kheir, and so are Senators and Representatives in California, Michigan and New York. Senator Peters' staffer joined the line for the 2nd Stay Human Conference call with speakers that included a villager in Um Al Kheir and a representative of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

From April 3rd to May 4th, Rebuilding Alliance will be hosting Israeli Author and Activist Amos Gvirtz on his Don’t Say We Did Not Know speaking tour.  We're brining him to speak with some 30 peace and justice groups in Toronto, NYC, NJ, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Olympia and Vancouver (wow).

In October, we’ll be hosting the Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme along with the Executive Director of the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement — both these peacemakers, Palestinian and Israeli, were on our Stay Human Conference Call with Congress last August, just a few weeks after 28 members of Dr. Yassir Abujamei’s family we’re killed by a missile as the broke their fast for Ramadan.

Lastly, about Technology Development, we're seeing that this very hard problem — keeping Palestinian villages standing on the other side of the world — is bringing forward a breakthrough idea that could apply to all hard problems. The law firm of KPPB.com is representing Rebuilding Alliance pro bono and has filed a preliminary patent application on our behalf.  We call it “Contact Congress Countability” and we’ve entered the Knight News Challenge to bring our ideas forward.   Please use the link below for more info.

Thank you again for all you are doing. We could not do this without you.

Sincerely,
Donna

P.S.  Today Kelly and I are heading to Jerusalem to meet with Adv. Dalia Qumsieh, L.L.M, Head of the Advocacy Department at the Society of St. Yves Catholic Center for Human Rights

Links:

Mar 17, 2015

The Little Kindergarten that Could

The children in one of the classes
The children in one of the classes

I visited Al Aqaba village on Sunday 14th of March. When you come to this tiny village, it’s very quiet until reaching the center when you start to hear the children voices all around you. Their lively voices and laughter bring life and energy to this place, even as the sounds of heavy weapons and machine gun training at nearby Israeli military camps would overwhelm the human voice of existence.  

The children are happy and active. They sing songs to me and let me into their world.

"I like coming to the Kindergarten to play with my friends and have fun"
"I like learning the alphabets and singing songs here"
"I like to draw plans"
It was clear how the kindergarten offers an important space for these children to live and grow.

Kindergarten principal Noha said, "The kindergarten is the energy dynamo of Al Aqaba village and the essential element of life here.    It's like the minaret in the middle of the sea.   Even when parents come to pick their children they like to stay around for a while and hang out in the playground.  It's the only outlet for everyone here and the source of good feelings for everyone around."

I want to say we’ve got to do better at raising funds for scholarships. 

The kindergarten, like all early childhood education in Palestine is private and it depends upon tuition to pay staff and expenses.  Sadly Noha, the principal told me that ten children dropped out since January this year. And almost all students have not paid their fees for January and February. This might result in more students quitting as it embarrasses parents when they cannot pay tuition. It certainly puts financial pressure on the administration. Many students haven't paid for many months from last year and tens can't even join the kindergarten.

“We want to give all children the opportunity to come to school, and we want to hold on to our students and give them the best learning experiences, however it’s hard with the limited resources and difficulties we face,” said Principal Noha.

It is not just the kindergarten building that keeps the whole village standing — it's the wonder and hope of all these children. I hope you will continue to support Kindergarten Scholarships for Palestine – especially the Kindergarten in Al Aqaba.

P.S On Wednesday, March 18th you can stretch your donation to Kindergarten Scholarships further! It's a Global Giving match day and all donations up to $1,000 will be matched by 30% starting at 9 a.m. EST. Set your alarms!

creative teaching
creative teaching
Happy children having good time
Happy children having good time
Proudly showing the first alphabet of his name !
Proudly showing the first alphabet of his name !
Dec 1, 2014

You helped provide kindergarten for 20 children - please donate today to fund them through June

Kindergarteners harvesting olives
Kindergarteners harvesting olives

Dear Friend, 

Of all the work Rebuilding Alliance has done, our most important project has been the Kindergarten of Al Aqaba.  It keeps the whole village standing, attracts the further investment of 20 countries, and is a model for all our work -- but most importantly, our kindergarten provides 160 children with a wonderful education.   Our kindergarten opens its door to the children of Al Aqaba, the nearby villages who don't have kindergartens, and to children who live in the Jordan Valley countryside.  Your donation opens the doors to families who cannot afford the modest tuition.

"Your help gives all children the valuable opportunity to walk on the path of education," said Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq.  "The kindergarten would struggle to stay open were it not for you."

Al Aqaba's Village Council and Al Aqaba's Rural Women's Association thank you for your donations. With your help, through the scholarship grants program, the kindergarten fees for 20 children were covered through the end of November. They believe in your generosity and ask you to continue your support in the months to come. 

We are so proud that this project qualifies for the Microsoft Youth Spark Matching Grant offered on Giving Tuesday! On this Tuesday, Microsoft will give away $350,000 in matching grants for each donation up to $500 per project.  Please set your alarm as  Microsoft YouthSpark will match for Rebuilding Alliance’s project, Dollar for Dollar, starting at 6am PST/ 9am EST and again at noon Pacific / 3pm EST.

The kindergarten now faces a real challenge  in the way that it pays teachers.   Miniumum wage has gone up in Palestine but the basic fees for the kindergarten remain fixed at 100NIS (New Israeli Shekels) per month.  Teacher salaries need to more than double to meet the national standard.   Our team is developing a grant proposal to ask foundation to help address this — I promise to forward a copy in the month to come.

The future of these children and this village starts with the journey of knowledge — it is their highest priority.  Your donation opens a road of peace and hope.  Please donate again on Giving Tuesday.  Thank you. 

Sincerely,

 
   

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