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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

A Breakthrough!  We found a way to ship donations directly to Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations in Gaza — something no one knew about.

Our plan is to send a first pallet of solar-powered lights to the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, to be distributed to children in need and their families in Gaza.   

We hope to raise 14K by Valentine’s Day.

“It’s not about a light recharged by solar energy.  It’s about hope, a small gift that brings a smile and reminds us there is a life to live and wishes for better future.
10 years of electricity shortages have dumbed our souls to only retreat and give up.  
Your help, your light inspires us to know that Goodness still is alive in this world, still alive in your heart beat, giving us warmth to continue and believe in the chance for peace and a better life.” 
          —  Ameer in Gaza City, who tested a Luci Light with his family

Last Friday, Feb. 5th, Rebuilding Alliance placed the down payment for the purchase of our first pallet of solar-powered Luci Lights for the children of Gaza.   With your help, we'll pay the remainder for this pallet, and put a down payment on the next. With your help, we'll ship by the end of this month, in time for students to   use the Luci Lights to study for their finals.

You ask, 'Will they let it in?'  In preparation, Rebuilding Alliance is drawing on everything we've learned about shipping to Gaza to get this pallet, and the next two pallets, through: 

  • In December, we sent Luci Light samples to the Israeli Customs office - they saw no problem; 
  • Last week, the Palestinian Customs office gave their approval for the donation and forwarded forms to secure pre-clearance in Israel; 
  • To assure timely Customs approval, we asked our Senators, Representatives and the U.S. State Department to help today.  With their assistance, we've cleared our past shipments, every time.

When Gaza Community Mental Health Programme receives these lights, their staff will distribute them to children in therapy and to their siblings.

We have plenty of children who are engaged in our play therapy and counseling programs. We can just give them the solar lights at the end of their debriefings.  These usually take place just before the start of final exams.  This is my thought for now, and I know the teams here will come up with more ideas for sure.”  — Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei, Executive Director of GCMHP

Today is a good day to send a Valentine's Day gift to Gaza's Children, in the name of someone you love. Please Give a Little Light to Gaza’s Children, with Love

Sincerely,
Donna

Links:

Give the gift of light to children in Gaza!
Give the gift of light to children in Gaza!

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your continued support of the Backpacks for Gaza project! We are happy to announce that the container arrived to port on September 22 and our team is working dillegently to make sure all of the necessary paperwork is finalized to assure its safe passage from Ashdod to the children who need it most.  We're expecting clearance by early next week and our team is applying to be there in November to help with distribution.

I am happy to announce that our next container will include solarpowered, inflatable lights with each backpack kit with school supplies and books to give children and their families a way to  read, do homework or play at night despite ongoing power outages in the Gaza strip.  The lights are called Luci Lights and the company who makes them, Mpowerd, is providing them at a 40% discount for our project, now called Solar Lights and Backpack Kits for Gaza's Children!

We are kicking off our next major fundraising campaign for the next container this Wednesday, October 7th. Wednesday is the final Microsoft Youthspark Matching Grant Competition, meaning that there is $75,000 in matching grants available for all donations!   The matching grants start at NOON Eastern / 9am Pacific and ends at 11:59 Eastern / 9pm Pacific. 

We are excited that this project is a Microsoft Youthspark program, and hope that you will join us as we compete to win thousands of dollars in bonus prizes for Gaza's children by having the largest number of unique donors.  Please set your alarm for this Wednesday, Octover 7th, and share a message of hope with your friends and family by asking them to give too - give Gaza's children hope for a brighter future by giving the gift of light.

With many thanks,

Kelly Leilani Main 

P.S.  If you know of a major donor who would like help buy or supply new warm winter clothes and boots for Gaza's children in need, please give me a call at 650 325-4663. 

Each kit will now have Luci Lights!
Each kit will now have Luci Lights!
Wednesday is the last Youthspark matching day!
Wednesday is the last Youthspark matching day!
Adam and Ahmed load the container!
Adam and Ahmed load the container!

Wow, so much has happened in one short month.

On July 22, we received formal pre-clearance approval from Israeli Customs, meaning our shipment of Backpack Kits and children's books has security clearance for entry into Israel and into Gaza. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s office and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s offices both made inquiries to the Israeli Consulate and the Israeli Consul General weighed-in on our behalf. It is good to have such broad support for this important project!

This was the good news we had been waiting for all summer, and it kicked us into action. The 3,888 backpack kits were shipped from BluSource in Oklahoma to Mohegan Lake, New York just two weeks ago, and on Sunday, August 9, over one hundred volunteers gathered at the Hudson Valley Islamic Center in the town of Mohegan Lake to load our first shipping container and send it on its way!

The volunteers all put in one kit of school supplies, one book, and one letter of encouragement. The books, which came from from author Leila al-Haddad’s Baltimore, Maryland book drive, remind all of us of the joy of reading and its important role in inspiring the imagination - what a blessing to have the chance to send such a simple and meaningful gift to children cut off from the outside world.

On Sunday morning, the busses started arriving - one from Patterson, New Jersey, one from the Bronx, and a multitude of private cars from the surrounding area - and dozens of volunteers spilled out into the large gym where the backpacks were displayed in all different colors.

What an amazing job everyone did - putting in the school supplies, then the books, then letters of encouragement, repacking the boxes and then loading them into the 20 ft. shipping container… it was truly a sight to behold!

The day ended with a campfire, s’mores, live music, and a moving speech by the New York chapter president of the Council on American Islamic Relations, Ms. Afaf Nasher, highlighting the importance of education in our work and in providing a future for Gaza’s children and their families.  She also mentioned compassion and spoke about Rachel Corrie.  The chair of the Hudson Valley Islamic Center, Zead Ramadan, thanked everyone for joining us.   Rebuilding Alliance's Executive Director, Donna Baransk-Walker, spoke too, describing how Khaled Nasrallah, part of the family whom Rachel Corrie stood to protect, had suggested this project as a public and positive way for Americans to help the children who are most in need in Gaza.

From Adam Ramadan, our New Jersey Coordinator:

"The Backpacks for Gaza Container Kickoff event was one of the most memorable events ever! I can just remember looking at the backpack-o-meter in the early stages of the project and thinking to myself, how am I going to reach our goal? From that moment on, I made sure to give in my all for this project. Fast forward a few months, the generosity of family, friends, and community members made this project a great success. Seeing over one hundred people come together to pack backpacks for the neediest children of Gaza was such a remarkable scene. A true image of unity and selflessness. It wasn’t only about the backpacks, even though supporting the education of children in Palestine is critical, but this project gave an opportunity to show the world that unity can uplift the siege on Gaza. We are one step closer to ending the siege on Gaza."  - Adam Ramadan

Rebuilding Alliance and its partners want to thank you wholeheartedly for your support throughout this process - whether it be with your donations or with your good thoughts, and for your patience as we navigate the complexities of security clearance and customs requirements.  We'll keep you posted as we work through the details of distribution.

As the container now makes its way across the Atlantic to the Port of Ashdod, we are excited to continue this project and prepare for the next shipment.

Would you like to host the next container in your community? Send us an email and let us know. Still want to give? A donation now will help us pay for Patriot Act compliance as well as for transportation costs on this final leg of this journey to ensure this shipment reaches the children who need it most.

With great thanks,

Kelly Leilani Main

Gaza Project Coordinator 

Donna, Kelly, Adam, and more great volunteers!
Donna, Kelly, Adam, and more great volunteers!
Robin shows off the thousands of donated books!
Robin shows off the thousands of donated books!
It was a lot of work!
It was a lot of work!
Volunteers writing letters of encouragement
Volunteers writing letters of encouragement
Finally, 500 boxes packed, & with room to spare!
Finally, 500 boxes packed, & with room to spare!
Our volunteers with hundreds of donated books!
Our volunteers with hundreds of donated books!

Dear friends, 

On May 18, 2015, you helped us reach our goal - 3,888 backpack kits with school supplies for Gaza’s neediest children, and donations are still coming in! Thank you for your support!

It has been over a year since since the shelling of Gaza began last summer. At the current rate, reconstruction will take more than seventy years to complete. Not a single home has been rebuilt. The blockade continues.

We must not lose hope that a brighter future is possible. In addition to backpacks, we are now sending thousands of children’s books, one of the most sought after non-essential items requests from families in Gaza.

Our book drive coordinator, Laila el-Haddad (shown above), author of Gaza Mom and Gaza Kitchen: wrote:

" My community here in Baltimore is collecting new books to put into each backpack because this is a way to nourish young minds, and nourish the goodness in us all. There is a tendency to view those in Gaza as victims requiring nothing more than sympathy and monetary donations, and the blockade as solely a blockade on the entry of food, rather than a blockade on freedoms and rights, such as the right to learn. But people everywhere long to give something tangible and useful, Sadaqah Jarayah, translated as Continous Charity — gifts if you will, that keep on giving.   It is so difficult to have the opportunity to do that for Gaza.  With this siege and destruction how do we give to help them build their future?” 

In this spirit, hundreds of people from all different backgrounds donated to the bookdrive. From Adam, our lead volunteer coordinator who brought the project to mutliple Muslim Elementary and High Schools in New Jersey: 

“The situation in Gaza is very critical. As we take life for granted, children in Gaza are not given the opportunity to grow and succeed in school because of the occupation. Being able to contribute to the book drive is really giving the gift of reading! Education is essential to the growth and success of Gaza. Working with my community and with Laila El-Haddad and her community to come together to collect books for the children of Gaza was a beautiful and selfless experience. The fact that people of all races and religions came together to contribute to the book drive showed the support and love we have for Gaza. I hope that when these books are delivered the people of Gaza will feel the support and love we are sending their way. The thought may seem simple to many, but supporting the development of these children is really setting the foundation for them to become successful doctors, engineers, and lawyers. We aren’t just sending books, we are building a brighter tomorrow.”

Now that we successfully reached our fundraising goal for the backpacks, the hard work of customs approval begins. Production of the backpack kits finished in June (photos shown) - all 3,888 kits now are awaiting clearance to be shipped from the supplier in Oklahoma to the East Coast community center that will send them across the sea.

We knew that getting approval from the Israeli Authorities wouldn't be easy. On June 2nd, we received formal approval from the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Finance authorizing our donation. The donation was then sent to COGAT (Israeli Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) for security approval before being cleared by Israeli customs. After over a month of delays, we have engaged our diplomatic networks. We have been calling COGAT’s offices, checking in regularly to remind them the importance of this shipment. Our elected representatives are calling the Israeli consul general in San Francisco to inquire on our behalf, and we are working diligently with the UNOPS team to ensure any questions are answered in due time. You can call your representative - tell them you donated to our project and ask them to inquire to the Israeli Consulate as to why approval is taking so long. Your calls make a difference. We remain committed and engaged, especially when proceedings are frustrating and difficult - a spirit of perseverance that the families in Gaza model every day. 

Meanwhile, the blockade continues, against the advise of Israeli military officials who say that economic opportunity in Gaza is necessary to prevent another escalation of violence. School, now more than ever, proves itself to be an invaluable asset for children recovering from trauma - it provides them stability, a support network, and promotes dreams of the future. We will continue to nourish these dreams as we expand our network. As the BDS movement picks up steam across the country, we hope to build a movement to invest in education for Gaza's children, in the spirit of peace and prosperity for all. 

Because we believe we will succeed, we are continuing our outreach. Last week, Donna and Kelly met with the United Church of Christ in Redwood City to discuss ways to partner on the next backpack container. Despite the challenges this project faces, we remain committed to reaching Gaza’s children and their families. Plans for the next container are already under way.

“It is a privilege and a blessing to be able to support the good efforts and accomplishments of Rebuilding Alliance.   I especially appreciate the opportunity to help Gaza's children rebuild their lives and hope for learning in the form of a back-pack for school.  I hope that people of faith will act out their faith by giving generously…."Walk their talk."  - Rev. Dona Smith-Powers

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like assistance in contacting your representative by emailing kelly@rebuildingalliance.org.

Also, tomorrow is a Global Giving Bonus Day - all donations will be matched 40%! If you or someone you know would like to give, consider purchasing a backpack for the next container, or support Rebuilding Alliance's other projects. 

With great thanks,

Kelly Leilani 

Adam and Laila celebrate with friends and family
Adam and Laila celebrate with friends and family
Finished backpack kits in Oklahoma!
Finished backpack kits in Oklahoma!
People keep donating books!
People keep donating books!
Production team putting the kits together!
Production team putting the kits together!
Brand new school supplies for children in Gaza
Brand new school supplies for children in Gaza

Links:

Our team met with the Minster of Education
Our team met with the Minster of Education

Dear friends and supporters of Rebuilding Alliance,       

Greetings from Palestine! Donna and Kelly have been in the West Bank for the last month, moving things forward with the backpacks project. Our goal of reaching 3,888 backpacks by May is quickly approaching and we have now raised over $10,000 for the backpacks project (that’s more than 500 backpacks!). There is a strong network of support growing across the county, from San Francisco all the way to New Jersey and New York - thank you so much for being a part of it!

Today is a big day - another Microsoft Youthspark Matching grant has $5000 to give to the project with the largest number of unique donors. If we can reach 200 individual donations, we can get this big $5000 bonus prize for our project - that’s 250 backpacks for needy children in Gaza! If you can give $10, $20, or $100 again today, you can help us reach our goal of 3,888 backpacks by the end of May and build a brighter future for children in Gaza. Thank you!

During our time in the West Bank, we have been meeting with our trading consultants and the necessary contacts in the Palestinian Authority to make sure our container reaches the children in Gaza safely. Our team of consultants at Lausanne Trading have phenomenal experience getting goods in and out of Gaza, and even shared with us fresh mint, thyme, arugula, dill, and strawberries from the Gaza Strip. These delicious goods are being sold fresh overseas, even in groceries in New York! Your help to send backpack kits with new school supplies to children in need in Gaza will help continue to open the blockade and reconnect Gaza’s children and their families with the rest of the world.

On Thursday, April 9, we met with the Minister of Education, Professor Khawlah Shakhsheer, who is thrilled about this project. They are immensely thankful for American support and will help us identify the children who are most in need - those who will receive the wonderful backpack kits that you have helped provide. With approval from the Minister of Education, the Minister of Finance will provode us a donation number from the Palestinian Authority so that the container can get customs clearance and through Israeli COGAT security checks. We are well on our way to ensuring the safe arrival of these backpacks in time for school to resume in August, and we couldn't be doing it without your support.

On the other side of the world, our dedicated team members in California, New Jersey, and New York are undertaking remarkable fundraising efforts to help us reach our goal. To help prepare for the big Microsoft Youthspark Matching Grant event on Global Giving on April 14, these teams are holding fundraisers, movie nights, bake sales, and more, to raise money for the project! Our first container will be sent from the Palestinian American Community Center in New Jersey, where 5 schools and 3 universities have joined the campaign to send nearly 4,000 backpacks to children in need in Gaza. We want to give a big shout out to everyone involved in this amazing project, and thank you for your continued support!

Want to stay involved? Contact us about hosting the next shipping container in your community, or consider hosting a fundraiser event and donating the amount raised to the project. You can also give today to help us raise a bonus $5000 from Microsoft for having the highest number of unique donors. Thank you for your support of this project and please consider asking your friends and family to donate to help us reach our goal of 3,888 backpacks by the end of May. 

With sincere thanks,

The Rebuilding Alliance Team

Mohammed, Kelly and Donna with the Min. of Finance
Mohammed, Kelly and Donna with the Min. of Finance
Jake and Ryder helped raise 100 backpack kits!
Jake and Ryder helped raise 100 backpack kits!
Fresh herbs from Gaza - lets send backpacks!
Fresh herbs from Gaza - lets send backpacks!

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
$194,708 raised of $185,000 goal
 
1,996 donations
$0 to go
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