The freedom of the first swingset in Ein Yanoun
At the end of February, Combatants for Peace gathered in the tiny West Bank village of Ein Yanun to build Phase One of the Abir's Garden Playground. Located just east of Nablus, this is now the 3rd playground Combatants for Peace and Rebuilding Alliance have brought into reality in memory of Abir Aramin in the West Bank (more on Abir's story below). Fingers crossed for many more Abir's Gardens, many more Safe Places to Grow, in the years to come!
The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. The primary infrastructure for a playground includes a slide, swings, and monkey bars. You have many questions, and we excitedly bring you answers.
- After a 2 year pause in the project, things are going forward. This village, in an idyllic valley with olive trees and wheat fields, is surrounded by Israeli settlements on every hill. The settlers are armed and very dangerous — it was with the help of peace groups including Combatants for Peace and the Ecumenical Accompaniment Team that lives as witnesses in the village that the Ein Yanoun villagers were able to return home to live in their homes again.
- Our playground is a community effort: children and adults, Palestinians and Israelis, villagers and former fighters now working for peace and justice, all gathered together recently to assemble the playsets in Yanoun.
- Abir's parents, Bassam and Salwa, Abir's brother and her little nephew were there for the opening! Bassam wrote, “It was really amazing, very beautiful especially in [this] poor area…a place for kids to be kids…We have a lot to do to complete it.”
- Maya, originally one of the project leads for Combatants for Peace, had a similar view, “It was a wonderful day yesterday in Yanun. As you can see in the pics and video, the children really helped painting and we all had a great time. We now try to plan forward the next step that will enable us to develop Abir's Garden playground a bit more. Lets all think together of directions and ideas."
We want to take a moment to describe how and why this whole project began:
Abir was leaving a candy store just next to her school with her sister and two friends in the Jerusalem suburb of Anata on January 16th, 2007. She never made it home to her family. On this day a single shot was fired from the back of an Israeli Border Police jeep that was patrolling outside the gates of the Anata Girls’ School. Abir was hit by a rubber-coated steel bullet and critically wounded. She was taken off life support after 3 days of struggling for her life. She was only 10 years old.
In January 2007, news of Abir’s death created a wellspring of emotion worldwide, in part because Abir’s father, Bassam, is a founding member of Combatants for Peace. Responses to an online condolence letter written by Women of a Certain Age and addressed to her family, came from 58 countries.
“As I was signing it, I knew that we had to do more,” said Donna Baranski-Walker, founder of Rebuilding Alliance. “My board asked me to contact the Aramin family. Her family wanted nothing for themselves — they wanted a way to help Abir’s friends, because her desk would now be empty at school.” Rebuilding Alliance, working with Women of a Certain Age, partnered with Combatants for Peace with the hope that the world would help us build playgrounds to give the children and their families with a safe place to play and grow — and so you have.
We still have work to do at the Ein Yanoun site: Combatants for Peace plans to build some more benches and playing facilities from old tires, and they want to finish painting and planting the flowerbeds. And then there's the community children's theatre ... these are important dreams to nurture, important plans to realize.
Tomorrow, Wednesday March 16th, is the next GlobalGiving Bonus Day. GlobalGiving will match your donation from 9 AM until 11:59 PM Eastern time (3pm Wed - 5:59am Thu Jerusalem time), all day, for donations up to $1000. Global Giving is granting a total of $75,000 and this time, every donation will be matched until the competition closes.
On Wednesday, please help Combatant for Peace finish the Abir's Garden Playground in Ein Yanun and build the next! Please give during this Bonus Day and ask 10 of your friends to give too!
Teamwork - Combatants for Peace install slide
C4P group building the playground in Yanoun
C4P group & Abir's family presenting new sign!