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Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children

by Rebuilding Alliance
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children
Mom/kid with light
Mom/kid with light

This Mother’s Day, in honor of special moms in your life, please consider making a difference in someone else’s life by donating to Brighten the Future of Gaza’s Children.

In Gaza, moms are the glue that holds the family together. They work hard to make sure everyone is fed and taken care of, and often do jobs such as embroidery as well to make ends meet. Gaza mothers are some of the toughest in the world, but they’re also just like the special moms in your life – nurturing, loving, and unstoppable.

To date, in this 60% Renewable Energy Matching Grant Competition we have raised $13,185 and received $7,911 in matching grants thanks to Global Giving.  We have until 9 am EST on the 25th of May to make an even bigger difference for moms and children in Gaza! 

We originally sent lights with the goal of helping children study, but lighting up the dark in Gaza has helped in so many ways. Our goal now is to get a solar light to each child in Gaza (only 744,000 to go!).  

Here are some responses from moms who have already received lights, thanks to you:

“It (the solar Luci light) is very helpful… I use it to light the kids’ room because they are afraid of the dark when they go to the bathroom alone at night, but they are not afraid anymore because they can take the light.”

"I use the light to complete my work. I do hand-embroidering and mostly I have free time to work at night so that I and my family can have enough money to live in the difficult conditions that the Gaza Strip is experiencing such as the siege, the lack of employment opportunities, and the lack of electricity.”

 The power crisis in Gaza makes even the simplest everyday tasks difficult. Often the electricity is out for 20 hours a day. That’s why, with your support, we’re sending shipments of solar lights to families in Gaza, which will be received and distributed by our NGO partners to those most in need.

These little solar lights make a big difference for the whole family – doing things like cooking, cleaning, and sewing after the sun goes down are made much easier. When children have a safe alternative to dangerous kerosene lamps and candles, they can play and complete their homework without close adult supervision, so maybe mom can even take a rest!

How exciting that we can make mothering in Gaza a little easier!

 

P.S.  Share this exciting news with the most special moms in your life. 

Reading in Rafah
Reading in Rafah

Let me introduce myself.  I am Penni , the new Brighten the Future Program Manager at Rebuilding.  My experience is in the alternative healing profession, specializing in maternal/child health and as a founder/board member/teacher/oversight of a local nonprofit yoga center.  I have followed Rebuilding Alliance’s work for the past 3 years, volunteering to help, and have been impressed by the mission to rebuild war-torn communities.  I have been an avid supporter of solar technologies and so am thrilled to be able to help support a project that provides solar-powered lights to Gaza and improves the lives of children and families there.

As we move into Spring and are celebrating the first full year of this project, we are so thankful for those who have contributed to the Brighten the Future of Gaza’s Children program.

I am delighted to let you know that our Brighten the Future team is really growing:

  • Our dear mentor, Abu, has joined the team as the Brighten the Future Development Leader.  He is himself from Gaza and has long been a teacher of Arabic and the Koran here in the SF bay area.  He is working to introduce our program to all the mosques in the area. 

  • We have also hired Zainab and Doaa, the first two of five local coordinators who will bring our program to their communities and inspire them to participate in this project through donations or volunteerism. 

    Zainab learned about this project from her cousin who is an imam in one of the mosques that has been very supportive of our Brighten the Future of Gaza’s Children project.  As an undergraduate in Political Science and Psychology and a leader in the Muslim Youth of North America she is a great addition to our team.  Welcome Zainab!

    Doaa saw our table at the MCA masjed in Santa Clara.  She has been following our work for quite a while and has volunteered to help with our Gaza projects in the past.  Doaa is currently the president of the Muslim Student Association at San Jose State University and will soon graduate with a major in creative writing and professional and technical writing.  Doaa is a longtime activist for Palestine who "wants to help in any way possible such as through writing, therapy, or coordinating events."  Welcome Doaa!

  • And you may be happy to hear that Donna has hired an Executive Assistant, Ryan.  Ryan graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara in 2008 with a B.S. in Geography (Concentration in Geographic Information Science) and a
    B.A. in Sociology.  He is supporting Donna's work and last week she was in Belgium at the RightsCon human rights and technology conference to present the Mapping Palestine Mapathon.

We are honored to announce that Churches for Middle East Peace has launched the new initiative, Give Light, Be Light.  They are partnering with Rebuilding Alliance and offering their 200 member churches the opportunity to send a solar light to Gaza and hold one advocacy meeting on the Hill with a Congressional office for Gaza. We are looking forward to new partnerships in the United States with many more mosques, churches, synagogues and other faith groups as well as school groups who want to support this project! 

Rebuilding Alliance is about to send our 4th shipment to four Gaza Non-governmental Organization as soon as preclearance comes through.  This shipment is bigger than ever:  we're sending 5860 solar lights as the result of a wonderful matching grant!   We'll have that two-for-one matching grant (from a Texas energy company!) for the 5th shipment too.

We are also seeking preclearance for the 5th, 6th and 7th shipments at the same time so we can ship with ease in the future.  Preclearance - this process of seeking approval to send our lights through the blockade before we even ship - is hard but if anyone can do this, Rebuilding Alliance can.  That’s because we have done this before, sending three shipment of solar lights to date and building upon the seven shipments of emergency aid sent through the years. 

As I write, Donna, our Executive Director, is on her way to Palestine and Israel and we should have word of approval in the next few days.  If the preclearance is delayed in any way, Donna will be asking the U.S. Embassy's assistance and she is ready to meet with Israeli Customs and the Israeli Army if necessary.  We’re getting thumbs-up encouragement from our shipping coordinator in Ramallah, and the State Department, Senator Feinstein’s office, and Representative Eshoo’s office are all standing by to help if this gets stuck.

Soon, a survey will begin of those who received the lights in the first 3 shipments.  We are hiring Kareem who lives in Rafah, Gaza, to conduct this survey.  Many of you may recognize Kareem as the oldest child of the family whom the late Rachel Corrie stood to protect when she was killed as she stood before an Israeli Army bulldozer 14 years ago. Their whole family have mentored Rebuilding Alliance for a very long time and Donna stayed over at their house last year during both her visits to Gaza to develop the Brighten the Future of Gaza’s Children program.

An exciting new campaign is now taking shape: shining the light at home as well as helping those in Gaza shine the light. A group of designers from the College of Dupage in Chicago are volunteering to help.   We are currently calling it “It’s time for Light”  We believe in the light in each human being and are asking everyone to spread the light of knowledge starting i in May.  If you are interested in holding a house party to participate in this initiative please contact us.  We’ll be featuring this new campaign in Rebuilding Alliance’s mobile app, Evincible!  More on this soon.

Thank you again for supporting the Brighten the Future of Gaza’s Children project and for being a light in the darkness!  GlobalGiving is holding a lovely matching grant this week for donations up to $50 - please do.  Also, let us know if you would like to raise funds for this project by hosting a giving table with Luci Lights at your place of worship or school, holding a house party — or a talk at your Rotary Club.   I look forward to working with you!

Kareem with LUCI light
Kareem with LUCI light
A boy from the Al Basma Club for the Disabled
A boy from the Al Basma Club for the Disabled
At the Islamic Society of East Bay, Fremont CA
At the Islamic Society of East Bay, Fremont CA
Penni and Abu Munzer at Saratoga, CA mosque
Penni and Abu Munzer at Saratoga, CA mosque
Ryan and Abu Munzer at West Valley Islamic Assoc.
Ryan and Abu Munzer at West Valley Islamic Assoc.

Links:

As we near the end of the year, we are so thankful to those who have contributed to the Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children project! 

Good news:  the Mpowered company is providing an in-kind matching grant!  For every Luci Original light we send to Gaza's children, they will also send one Luci EMRG light too!   This means we can ask our NGO partners to give each family three Luci Originals and a Luci EMRG for each child!

Your incredible support over this past year has allowed us to really ramp up since this project.  We launched this project nearly a year ago because the daily rolling blackouts make even the simplest of tasks so difficult in Gaza. How can kids do their homework and study in the evening when the sun has gone down? Kerosene lamps and candles are too dangerous – there had to be another option.

Our first pallet of Luci Lights arrived in Gaza in April and was distributed by our Palestinian NGO partners, including Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, the Women’s Project Center in Rafah, and the Al Basma Club for the Disabled. I was able to be there to help with distribution and the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme team had me join their social workers to go with them to each family's home.  Some were living in tents, some in caravans (mobile homes like in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina) while awaiting a new house.  Others were in their new house already or moved-in even during construction.  All had experienced terrible loss.  All I had to give was our little light - and how graciously and warmly they were received and appreciated.

The second pallet arrived in June and the Al Basma Club for the Disabled managed distribution to the disabled community in Northern Gaza.  This second pallet was particularly meaningful because it arrived during the holy month of Ramadan, when parents give small lanterns to their children (called a fanoos) as a reminder to be a light in the darkness. They also included all 90 families in one of the caravan parks.  Back in April, we were only able to give them to 5 families and that nearly caused a riot.   I kept my promise: now every family received one - a caravan park filled with light. 

Our third pallet arrived in September, and the Women's Program Center in Rafah carefully and thoughtfully distributed them to children and families in need.  These photos and the delightful video by photographer Mohammad Mansur are all from the 3rd shipment.

"Yes, our Luci lights are still working!  We are very happy with them" reports Kareem the oldest child (now adult) in the family whom Rachel Corrie sought to protect.  Kareem and his wife just had their first child.

We're placing our order now for shipment of our 4th pallet - much bigger this time:   2880 Luci Originals plus 2880 Luci EMRG.  Since Israeli and Palestinian Customs had only approved the first 3 pallets, we are now applying for pre-approval for our next three pallets.  The State Department and members of Congress are standing by to help if we experience any delays — so far so good.

Thank you again for supporting the Brighten the Future of Gaza’s Children project and for being a light in the darkness! Please let us know if you would like to raise money for this project by hosting a giving table with Luci Lights at your place of worship or school — or a talk at your Rotary Club.  We hope to bring a speaking from Gaza in the year to come and are starting now to work through the details.

Links:

Children play with their brand new Luci light
Children play with their brand new Luci light

Eid Mubarak!

It worked- again! Our second pallet of Luci solar-powered lanterns arrived in Gaza on Sunday! Though we already knew that donations of aid could be directly received by Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations, it was still such exciting and encouraging news to hear that the shipment had cleared the blockade and arrived successfully. This pallet was received by the Al Basma Club for the Disabled (ABCD), a Palestinian Non-Governmental Organization based in Gaza City. ABCD was established in early 2005 as a response to the physical and social needs of the disabled, especially youth and children.

Al Basma's team brought 300 Luci lights to 90 families whose homes were entirely demolished - they are staying in temporary homes called caravans.  We had asked ABCD to distribute there because when the social workers from Gaza Community Mental Health Programme brought Donna, Rebuilding Alliance's Executive Director there in April, we could only deliver solar lights to the five families in the care of the social workers. Now Al Basma's team brought light to the other families too.

During the holy month of Ramadan, the gift of light is especially meaningful. Parents give their children a fanoos, or lantern, as a reminder to be a light in the darkness. With as little as four hours of electricity a day, this little Luci light can be a big help during this special month, when families come together to celebrate. Al Basma Club also delivered solar powered Luci Lights to their 300 members who include deaf and physically disabled people as well as the able-bodied in Beit Layha in the north of Gaza.  Their team then distributed to the most needy children in the Jabalya refugee camp and they gave 250 lights to the children at the Al Amal Orphans Center in Gaza. Al Basma also shared the shipment with the Women's Project Center in Rafah, who is distributing them during the Eid celebration.

We look forward to bringing you a photo montage of Eid in Gaza, through the glow of solar-powered Luci Lights! Here is a link to a video made for us by the very talented Mohamed Monsour, who also took all the attached photos. 

A big thank you to everyone who donated to send this second pallet of solar lights! We just placed the order this past week to send the third pallet of solar Luci Lights. Thank you for your support and caring — thank you for being a light in the darkness, a light of the world!

Best,

Tamsin

A girl in Gaza poses with her Luci light
A girl in Gaza poses with her Luci light
At night, Luci lights the way on dark streets.
At night, Luci lights the way on dark streets.
Two friends show off the lights they
Two friends show off the lights they've received

Links:

Ameer
Ameer's nephew: homework w Luci Light in Gaza City

Hello Friend,

Yesterday, our first pallet of 1,920 solar-powered Luci lights shipped from China en route to Gaza to Brighten the Future of Gaza's Children!  It is scheduled to arrive in Ashdod on April 3rd, pre-cleared to enter Gaza. 

My permit is approved too!  I'll be there in April to present a paper at the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme's 6th International conference, 'Mental Health and Human Rights in Palestine – Enhancing Resilience and Hope.'  I'll get to meet some of the children and their families who receive the solar lights and bring you their stories.

Because of your help, we are sending solar lights so children can do their homework, families can cook with light, and little ones can have a nightlight when the power drops out each night.  We are sending solar lights so together, we'll press officials to end the blockade of Gaza and give families a way to make a living and recover from trauma and war.

It is really exciting to hear how creatively groups are organizing events!  We'll write more in our next message - but first this:

  • Tomorrow, Wednesday Mar. 16th, is the next GlobalGiving Bonus Day Competition.  Our goal is to raise $19,200 to send the next pallet of 1,920 solar Luci Lights.  

  • GlobalGiving will match your donation from 6 AM until 8:55 PM PST, for donations up to $1000.  Global Giving is granting a total of $75,000 and they are matching all donations, all day.

Please, if you can, give again on Wednesday and please ask 10 of your friends to give too. Together, we can do this. We can send the next shipment of solar lights to brighten the future of Gaza's children!

Sincerely,

Donna, Tamsin, Christina, Henry, Andrea, Monica, Kamila, Thai, Fatma, Niveen, Lamia, Laurie, Adam and many more volunteers!

P.S. On Wednesday, all of Rebuilding Alliance's projects are up for matching funds.  Please consider making a 2nd donation to support these great projects too.  To see the whole list, click here.

Ameer says everyone in Gaza City is asking for one
Ameer says everyone in Gaza City is asking for one

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Rebuilding Alliance

Location: Burlingame, CA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @RebuildAll
Project Leader:
Donna Baranski-walker
Executive Director
Burlingame, CA United States
$195,514 raised of $185,000 goal
 
2,042 donations
$0 to go
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