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Nov 4, 2013

Why these schools and teachers make a difference

First Day of School in Al Aqaba Village
First Day of School in Al Aqaba Village

Hello Everyone,

Our project, Teaching in a Village Under Demolition Orders, continues to grow.   I and Sophia Omar were both there for the first day of school on August 24th in Al Aqaba Village — so very exciting!    I am happy to announce that a new teacher, from Estonia, is now working in Al Aqaba through a grant provided by the Estonian government.  Some 160 children registered for the Al Haq Kindergarten -- one of Al Aqabaa's largest classes ever.  

I promise to write more soon about the new programs that Librarian Haneen has been developing new programs at the Ibn Rush'd Library.   We may be able to qualify these for the Microsoft Youth Spark matching grant -- more on this by the end of this week.

What I do want to share, in addition to these great photos, is something I noticed when Sophia and I joined Combatants for Peace to visit a school they helped finish for a small Palestinian village called Kirbet Twire.   The new school is beautiful, funded by the European Community — but the school is not in the village it serves.   It is a half mile away, uphill, no school bus.   The village itslef is in Area C and faces demolition orders (as does Al Aqaba) Instead of risking the demolition of the school, the Palestinian Authority and the donor governments placed the school in Area B, leaving Kirbet Twire without its children, without direct investment in its infrastructure, and, I would argue,  even more at risk of demolition.

When we came back to Al Aqaba that evening, I asked Mayor Haj Sami how he built the elementary school there, in the village itself.  One thing he did was to attach it directly to his home, one of two pre-1968 structures that are free of demolition orders.   Also, he got private funding to build the school and only asked for PA help to staff it after it was built.  With the kindergarten, I know that story — Rebuilding Alliance had a small grant to buils a school that would not be demolished and so we responded to Al Aqaba's request and then Japan, Norway and Belgium added the 2nd floor ... and so it has grown and we've all kept it standing.

You support has made a big difference in this process.  Your calls to your members of Congress have been invaluable at pivotal times, like when we helped Al Aqaba bring their case before the Israeli High Court in 2008 or when we asked for U.S. State Department assistance last June and the Israeli Army stopped live-fire training in the village that night and did not return.

Our strategy to support the building of Al Aqaba's kindergarten despite demolition orders has helped Al Aqaba become the vibrant village it is today.   Sophia and I had the pleasure of meeting a representative of the British Consul and also of the Palestine Welfare Fund while in Al Aqaba — very exciting to hear of their new grants to improve the kindergarten!    What we all set in motion is a network of assistance, both financial and diplomatic, to keep this village standing.  It is a good model — your support for this program is the key, so deeply appreciated!

Sincerely,

Donna

The elementary school is attached to Mayor
The elementary school is attached to Mayor's house
The Kindergarten that Rebuilding Alliance built
The Kindergarten that Rebuilding Alliance built
First day at the Al Haq Kindergarten in Al Aqaba
First day at the Al Haq Kindergarten in Al Aqaba
Exciting first day at kindergarten
Exciting first day at kindergarten
There are 160 children in this year
There are 160 children in this year's class!
Librarian Haneen w new books @ Ibn Rush
Librarian Haneen w new books @ Ibn Rush'd Library
New books in English and new programs taking shape
New books in English and new programs taking shape
Oct 8, 2013

Where we're at with the first three homes

A home for Sadeq and his family
A home for Sadeq and his family

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your wonderful support for our Rebuilding to Remain project.   We dreamed of building 30 homes and stared by designing and funding three homes.   We met great milestones: 

  • We're really the only group planning affordable housing in the West Bank.  And Al Aqaba became the first village in Area C to issue its own building permits;

  • Rebuilding Alliance was the first to provide mortgage financing in Area C, creating a rotating mortgage fund starting with these three homes;

  • We met our funding commitment, raised and sent at total of $20,000 per home for construction ($5000 downpayment grant and $15,000 revolving mortgage loan)

  • Construction using our funds is completed.

Here's the problem:  the families chose to design a home that is exactly what they need but bigger than what they could afford.  Each home is 125 sq meters for 3 bedrooms.  Mayor Haj Sami turned to the Palestinian National Authority Government and received their promise of an additional $13,000 per home — the amont needed to finish each homes. This was a promise the PNA government did not keep. 

It is so hard for all of us to see these homes empty when the families and all of us, long for them to move in.

During my and Sophia's recent visit to Palestine, the families and Mayor Haj Sami agreed to extend their mortgage loans to borrow an additional $10,000 if Rebuilding Alliance can raise the funds to finish their homes.   Sophia and I returned home and wrote a grant proposal to the Lantern Fund to ask their help in raising $30,000 (for three homes) for such good things:  floor tiles, doors and windows, painting, bathroom plumbing and the kitchen sink.  Our proposal was accepted and is scheduled for January 2014.

Meanwhile, we submitted an elegant proposal to build 10 more homes to the Paletinian Housing Fund, Coca-Cola Palestine and also the largets construction company in the Arab World all of whom could help.   So far, no replies — so frustrating because these dreams are so close to being realized.

Thank you for your support for this wonderful project.   GlobalGiving.org provides their next mathing grant on Wednesday Oct. 9th, starting at midnight Eastern time.  If you would like to, please consider giving once again and we'll get the families moved in.

As always, please call if you have questions or suggestions.  My cellpone is 650 440 9667.

Sincerely,

Donna

Two Rebuilding to Remain homes near kindergarten
Two Rebuilding to Remain homes near kindergarten
Safa and Nabil
Safa and Nabil's house
Here
Here's Sophia in front of Othman & Sara's home
Nabil
Nabil's father comes to show us water from cistern
Nearly ready for the family to move in!
Nearly ready for the family to move in!
Jun 7, 2013

Local teachers, librarian funded & more Estonians!

Recent photo of Kindergarten as seen from Minaret
Recent photo of Kindergarten as seen from Minaret

Dear Friend,

Thank you again for your support for this important program.   Rebuilding Alliance recently transferred a grant made up of the donations from these past two months, helping to pay the staff of the Al Haj Kindergarten: 4 teachers, 2 bus drivers, principal, part-time accountant and the librarian.  To give even more people the opportunity to help, we've now put together a concise $3K proposal and are sending it to foundations and places of worship.  Please let me know if you would like a copy.

I want to tell you that our long-time visiting teacher, John from Estonia, will be leaving Al Aqaba soon because his Israeli visa extention is ending.  John hopes to return to complete his college at a Palestinian university.  While in Al Aqaba he taught English as well as assisting Mayor Haj Sami with his correspondence including grantwriting.  Through his efforts, the Government of Estonia will be sending a teacher to join the Al Haq Kindergarten staff through all of next year! 

In closing, I ask you to mark your calendar for Wednesday June 12th.  Starting at 9am Eastern time, GlobalGiving.org  is matching donations with a 40% bonus!   Please give -- small or large -- for Teaching in a Village Under Demolition Orders.  That kindergarten keeps all Al Aqaba standing despite demolition order -- and these teachers are the heart of that wonderful school.  Your donation, your support, your good giving — that makes the Al Haq Kindergarten thrive!

Sincerely,

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the participants involved.

"Facing Al Aqaba" series by Maurice Jacobsen
"Facing Al Aqaba" series by Maurice Jacobsen
"Facing Al Aqaba" series by Maurice Jacobsen
"Facing Al Aqaba" series by Maurice Jacobsen
"Facing Al Aqaba" series by Maurice Jacobsen
"Facing Al Aqaba" series by Maurice Jacobsen
"Facing Al Aqaba" series by Maurice Jacobsen
"Facing Al Aqaba" series by Maurice Jacobsen
 
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