Yesterday morning I had the chance to speak with Khaled Nasrallah, co-founder of the Rachel Corrie Sports Initiative (RCSI). He informed me that all fencing behind the goals on the Unity Club Soccer Field has been completed.
When I asked if there were any other opportunities to use the money raised through Beams of Light, he explained that RCSI will now be hosting the Rachel Corrie Soccer Tournament on a different soccer field every year. This year it will be held at the Rafah refugee camp called “Block O.” More than half of the homes in “Block O” were demolished from 2000 to 2005 because it was right next to the Israeli Army’s guard tower and a major gate called the Falahadin Gate.
The community finds recovery through soccer! Khaled explained that people, especially the young, gather in a café in camp, near a makeshift field to watch the European soccer games. The café though isn’t like a Starbucks, though. It is made from the rubble of demolished homes. Then they go out to play soccer themselves. He promises to send pictures.
Khaled said it was really important to give families of this neighbor a safe place to play. He felt there are several opportunities that are a close match for this project:
- Provide play equipment for the playground next to the soccer field; or
- Resurface and level the soccer field, making it softer and safer for tournament play
I asked RCSI to email Rebuilding Alliance a plan and a budget for one of these projects, which I will present it to the Rebuilding Alliance Board of Directors. Once we have his proposal, we will modify the Beams of Light: Ramadan Soccer Tournament in Rafah project.
I want to thank you again for all of your help. You have supported infrastructure for an amazing initiative that has brought the youth of Gaza together to play ball! I look forward to being in touch soon.
Founder and Executive Director
P.S. Just to recap, we accomplished many things above and beyond the original goals of this grant:
- Through a separate grant, we installed a portable office building at the Unity Club Soccer Field as the first step in creating a community center. We used a portion of the funds that you donated to pay for a generator delivered with the portable building, as a generator was cited in our original quote for lighting;
- We used your grant to level the playing field – literally!—and installed lighting for the walkway to the field; and
- When the Unity Club requested fencing behind the goals (to keep the ball from bouncing into the tunnel area), instead of lighting for night-games, we explained their request to you and forwarded our grant to meet their goal (please see last report to explain why we agreed to fencing instead of lighting).
In the process, Rebuilding Alliance collected hundreds of gently worn soccer shoes and uniforms, learning a lot about the full dimensions of the blockade in the process. We also help the Rachel Corrie Sports Initiative install a playground at the Unity Club Soccer Field, and spent countless hours working through the details of project development. When those who knew Rachel Corrie decided to clear the rubble of their demolished