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.
Jun 23, 2014

This Wednesday: Dollar for Dollar match for Kindergarten Scholarships in West Bank Area C

Ayat Omran helping students with Artist Lily Yeh
Ayat Omran helping students with Artist Lily Yeh

Dear Friends,

I am writing to let you know that through your support, 29 needy children were able to attend kindergarten at Al Aqaba's Al Haq Kindergarten this past school year.   We transferred a grant of $5568 in March and that was enough to pay for 7.34 months of school for these 29 students.   February, March, April, May, and June have quickly gone by, and the kindergarteners — including the scholarship students — have celebrated their graduations!   

By the end of summer, Al Aqaba's kindergarten will receive applications for the new class of students.  I write now to ask your help to raise the funds needed to provide scholarships to 30 kindergarten students for all 9 months of their school year.  To do this, we'll need to raise at least $7396 (Tuition is 100NIS/month * 30 students * 9 months less 2.34 months of funds left over from this past year, as we started the scholarship fund mid-year).  If we raise an additional $2000 we will offer stipends to 2 talented student teachers too.

From Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq, "Our Village of Al Aqaba remains safe.  When things are scary, with the sound of military training underway near their homes, our kindergarten building and our teachers offer a good and positive place for the children.  Please know your support for our kindergarten scholarships is more important than ever."

Good news.  This Wednesday June 25th is a bonus day with a dollar for dollar match for donations up to $1000.  On Wednesday, Microsoft Youth Spark is giving away $200,000 in matching funds via GlobalGiving — and I think the match will go in the first 5 minutes

Please mark your calendar for Wednesday, June 25th and set your alarm for 9:01am Pacific, 10:01am Mountain, 11:01am Central, or Noon:01pm Eastern.    Please click Scholarships 4 Children, Stipends 4 Young Teachers to give.

As always, please call me if you have questions or suggestions.  My phone number is 650 325-4663.

Sincerely,

Donna

P.S.  I am delighted to share photos from a recent workshop offered by artists Lily Yeh and Robert Shetterly in Al Aqaba Village.  Rebuilding Alliance's own Ayat Omran helped out that day too, and the next day a wonderful mural took shape outside the Kindergarten!

Artists Lily Yeh and Robert Shetterly in Al Aqaba
Artists Lily Yeh and Robert Shetterly in Al Aqaba
What art can mean: dreams made real
What art can mean: dreams made real
The children who joined the art workshop
The children who joined the art workshop
Apr 7, 2014

Kindergarten Scholarship Program is Underway!

Children now receiving scholarships
Children now receiving scholarships

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Ramallah!  The scholarship project is really taking off, all because of you.  

Earlier this year, Kindergarten Director Raheya Alsbaih and Mayor Haj Sami sent the list of children who would especially benefit from the scholarship program and their photos.   From your donations we transferred a grant of $5,565.68 for the 26 children in families facing unemployment, financial difficulties, health program or who just show a particular aptitude to learn.  I've attached a translated summary of the selection list. 

As soon as Thai Hien Ho and I arrived in the West Bank we met with the Kindergarten Director to discuss the implementation of the scholarship program. Kindergarten Director Raheya explained, "The scholarship will not involve a transfer of funds to the families but instead the families will be privately notified that their fees are being waived.  We will start reporting specifics back to you soon."

The photos sent to us as we announced this program show anxious, needy children in the cold of winter. Now, in springtime, they all blend in and with the care of their teachers and parents, they just shine.  I've posted a few pictures from the recent Land Day celebrations on March 31st to give you a sense of how remarkable they are ... behind me were hundreds of moms snapping photos of their little ones.

This kindergarten is such a special place, filled with 130 students and now 20 more.  A new grant from the British Consulate and the Welfare Association upgraded the kitchen to offer hot lunches.  The Estonian Government continues to send a teacher every three months who lives at the guest house and teaches the little ones.   Kindergarten Teacher Trainer Expert Abla Mahroun, who designed the kindergarten along with Engineer Laila Sbaih when Rebuilding Alliance first built it, came back to offer the teachers additional insight.

I wish I could stop my report there, reflecting back the beaming children in the bright sunny days of spring.  The hard part is that for three days this past week, Al Aqaba Village was like the eye of a hurricane, in this case a booming mass of Israeli Army soldiers training with guns and mortar from all sides of the village.  Everyone is safe, there was no shooting in the village itself, but machine gun fire, sonic booms, and tank fire can be really scary for children.  The bus drivers and teachers modeled reassurance and calm. 

If you would like to support our Kindergarten Scholarship project again, one great day to do this will be on Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 starting at 12:00:01 PM (noon) EDT when Microsoft's Youth Spark will provide a 50% match to donations (up to $1,000 per donor).  The bonus competition will end April 17th, 2014, at 11:59:59 AM EDT.  

NOTE:  The project that has the most unique donors on Microsoft YouthSpark's Bonus Day will receive an additional $10,000 from Microsoft.  Please mark your calendar for noon, Wednesday April 16th through noon Thursday April 17th — and ask your friends to mark their calendar too.

I head back to Al Aqaba Village in just a few days time and will be happy to convey any questions you may have to the staff or to the children and get back to you.  Please email me at contact@RebuildingAlliance.org or call me at 0119702313811.

Sincerely,

Donna

This scholarship program means a lot to them
This scholarship program means a lot to them
Mayor Haj Sami with the candidates for scholarship
Mayor Haj Sami with the candidates for scholarship
Thank you for helping these children be in school
Thank you for helping these children be in school
Their kindergarten commemorating Land Day
Their kindergarten commemorating Land Day
All the children dancing on Land Day
All the children dancing on Land Day

Attachments:
Mar 13, 2014

Greetings from a rainy, blustery Jerusalem

Rain, Hail, Thunder, Lightning in Jerusalem
Rain, Hail, Thunder, Lightning in Jerusalem

Dear Friend,

Greetings from Jerusalem! Rebuilding Alliance’s Accountant and Assistant Project Manager, Thai Hien Ho, and I arrived yesterday to a rainy, blustery, thunder-stormy Jerusalem.

Tomorrow we’ll be meeting with the team at the UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) who wrote the newly released, “Area C Vulnerability Profile”. As stated in the report, “An estimated 297,900 people live in 532 residential areas in Area C, comprising some of the most vulnerable communities in the West Bank in terms of humanitarian needs.” (see attached link).   If you've been looking at the West Bank via GoogleMaps, Area C looks so very empty — the villages have already disappeared.   That's a problem we should be able to fix.   With the help of a friend at Google, Thai and I will be conveying UNOCHA’s data to the mapping team at Google so that those missing 532 residential areas including some 148 Palestinian towns will show up on Google’s maps of the West Bank.

When I think about all that Rebuilding Alliance does, I feel that this project, the U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages, is one of our most important.   I’m delighted to report that we’ve used project funding to purchase a GPS camera and also MapAnything Software to help build the software app that will make it easier to contact congress.  

Here’s what we plan to do on this trip:

1.   We want the U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages to build on our success in keeping one village, Al Aqaba, standing despite demolition orders issued on 97% of the village including nearly all the homes, the medical clinic and our kindergarten.   What’s worked is our collective engagement with congressional staffers who call the U.S. State Department and the Israeli Embassy at their constituents’ request as soon as demolition bulldozers are on the move. We hope to meet with the American Consulate in Jerusalem to explore how to extend this to other at-risk villages;

2. We are in touch with Reverend Yoshii and the Friends of Wadi Foquin Village who are also visiting the area. Their congressional briefing was very successful but in January, the Israeli Army destroyed some 200 newly planted olive trees in Wadi Foquin.   That’s the type of destruction we hope can be avoided by developing a contact congress “early warning system” approach, much like we’ve done in Al Aqaba.

3. We’re working with a group of UC Berkeley Computer Science Students who are part of a chapter called, “Code the Change” to develop better mapping tools for projects like this, both as a way to raise funds for construction and tree planting projects and also as a way to monitor progress over time and build advocacy to keep each project area safe too.  Their prototype may be ready next month!

4. We look forward to meeting the legal team at Rabbis for Human Rights to hear about their lawsuit to assure villages in Area C to plan their future growth. Thai and I hope to meet with them to explore how we can focus U.S. attention on this important concept through our advocacy software.

Thank you again for your support of the U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages and for your patience as we work through our software development phase. This is such a critical time — I hope our software app. will be ready soon, soon enough to keep the villages standing in Area C.

Sincerely,

Links:

 
   

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