It has now been nearly five years since Rebuilding Alliance announced our project entitled, “Rachel Corrie Rebuilding Campaign, Gaza 2nd Home.” Reluctantly, after trying many ways to send building supplies to Gaza, we are sad to report that this project is being deactivated.
We opened this project and introduced you to the Al Bahry family after we successfully completed construction of a home for the Nasrallah family, the family whom the late Rachel Corrie stood to protect as she stood before the bulldozer that threatened their home. Our founding board members, Cindy and Craig Corrie, met with the Al Bahry family personally following the demolition of their home in Northern Gaza.
So why are we closing this project before it was fully funded? Certainly the blockade of Gaza deeply impacted our ability to purchase building materials in Gaza. We tried every route to no avail with test shipments via Egypt, by meeting with Israeli Peace groups in S’derot to ask their help in purchasing and sending building supplies, and by sending supplies aboard the M.V. Rachel Corrie last year in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. We actively sought diplomatic assistance too and we did our best to engage creative know-how at a conference in Doha Qatar focused on building without cement or steel.
Though we did our best to fundraise, so far we’ve met only 16% of our $47,000 goal. When the scale of demolitions grew much worse in 2009 with Israel’s invasion of Gaza called “Cast Lead,” we sought our partners’ advice. The continuing siege of Gaza barred even the most common building supplies. Our partners at Gaza Community Mental Health Programme told us that the Al Bahry family was managing as best they could — others were in far greater need. Our friends who knew Rachel Corrie in Gaza advised we turn our attention to something doable, tangible, and immediate: help surface the playing fields and provide a club house for the Rachel Corrie Soccer Tournament in Rafah, Gaza to give the Ybnah Camp neighborhood a way to recover from the trauma of Cast Lead. We raised funds and met those goals.
I am not giving up on our commitment to help Gaza families rebuild in memory of Rachel Corrie. I am not giving up on the remarkable families I have come to know through our Rachel Corrie Rebuilding Campaign in Gaza — I hold their trust and yours with care.
Funds raised since 2007 will now be reallocated to Rebuilding Alliance’s Rebuilding to Remain program. This program provides a breakthrough crowd-source mortgage financing to rebuild whole neighborhoods, starting with 30 homes in Al Aqaba village in the West Bank where Rebuilding Alliance built the kindergarten. This is a village in which 97% of the structures are under demolition order. Success there will open the West Bank’s Area C to Palestinian rebuilding and lay the foundation to bring our Rebuilding to Remain construction finance and advocacy program to Gaza families.
I realize my message may raise questions and I am happy to answer them. Please feel free to give me a call at 1-650-325-4663.
Thank you so much for your past support of Rebuilding Alliance's workl We've used every dollar donated to remarkable results. I ask for your help once again.
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We need your help to rebuild Palestinian homes, schools, playgrounds, libraries. We are focusing now on our Rebuilding to Remain Program launch. Please go to www.RebuildingAlliance.org and click Donate Now.
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Questions, suggestions? Please call me at 650 325-4663.
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There may now be a way to re-open our Rachel Corrie Rebuilding Campaign in Gaza and complete the 2nd home. This spring, the Free Gaza Movement will send a flotilla of ships destined for Gaza with cargo ranging from school supplies, to sports equipment, to building materials. They have invited the Rebuilding Alliance to participate and will deliver cement and steel re-bar to our partners at the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme for the construction of the Al Bahry family’s home.
You may remember, we began our Rachel Corrie Rebuilding Campaign in Gaza in 2004, and successfully completed construction of a home for the family whom the late Rachel Corrie had sought to protect. Completion of that first home was a significant challenge due to the blockade first imposed on Gaza when Israeli settlers were being relocated from Gaza to Israel.
We dream of rebuilding whole neighborhoods in Gaza. In 2007, despite the blockade, we boldly started raising funds to build a second home, this one for physiotherapist Ali Al Bahry and his family. He is a key provider at Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, serving children and adults who’ve also lost their homes and more.
The blockade and siege kept us from realizing our goals as the price of building supplies dramatically increased then became entirely unavailable in Gaza. We’ve explored many alternatives. Recently, we joined an engineering conference in Doha Qatar to help UN engineers develop plans to rebuild using compressed earth blocks. Now, with the help of the Free Gaza Flotilla, we would like to move forward and rebuild the Al Bahry family’s home at last.
This will be the 9th expedition undertaken by the Free Gaza Movement. Like the previous journeys, we expect some or all of the ships to be detained by the Israeli authorities (5 made it, 3 did not.) Please remember that the boats will be carrying humanitarian aid, will be fully inspected at the port of sail, and will be received by Non-Governmental Organizations in Gaza. We’ll soon be asking your help to contact Congress to request their endorsement of our shipment. Should the ships be detained, we’ll ask you to call them again to ask their staffers to urge free passage on your behalf.
I will be in touch in the next few days to decribe our rebuilding plans in detail.
Thank you again for your support and your continued trust, supporting our work to rebuild war-torn communities and make them safe.
P.S. I appreciate that you may have many questions -- send me email at dbw@RebuildingAlliance.org and I'll reply. I look forward to hearing from you.
When the siege prevented all building materials from reaching Gaza, we asked the Al Bahry family if they would consider unconventional building materials, such as shipping containers, as a way to build their home. They worried that unconventional materials might attract too much attention and asked that we find a way to build in the traditional way in Gaza.
A limited supply of cement and concrete is now reaching Gaza. Open market prices are prohibitively high -- but we've learned there is a way for families to register for cement at set prices. The Al Bahry family will be meeting with our project manager soon.
As soon as they select an engineer to draw-up plans for their home, the project moves into full gear, to a place where dreams are made real as they plan each room of their future home.
The blockade of Gaza is entering its third month now and the crisis there is overwhelming, (see www.ochaopt.org). The Rebuilding Alliance is doing all we can to organize an end to the blockade. We were just awarded a seed grant from Grassroots International to use our Contact Congress Teleconferences to launch an Open Gaza Campaign focused on ending the blockade with Gaza, and also topics related to the Leahy Law. We'll keep you posted as the Campaign takes shape.
This past week the Israeli Banks said they are cutting off all funds transfers to banks in Gaza, As far as we know, this does NOT impact Rebuilding Alliance funds transfers to our NGO partner in Gaza, the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. We’ll test our bank-to-bank wire transfer system in the week ahead to confirm.
What does the blockade mean for our rebuilding project? Khaled Nasrallah who works with procurement requests at UNRWA, reports that everything in Gaza now cost 10 x more than it did last year. This is true in all sectors. When materials run out, they are not replaced because no raw materials are being allowed into Gaza at all.
We hoped to buy the last bags of cement for this project – but cement is now becoming bad, unsafe to build with. What about exploring alternative building materials?
Straw bale construction can be beautiful and long-lasting but such construction is not the norm in Gaza. People in Gaza want to build homes made of poured concrete and re-bar, homes that will last 100 years, best if the walls are thick. What do Gazans say about using local building materials? Khaled Nasrallah said, “We don't really have building materials now but we do have a lot of empty shipping containers. Perhaps building with materials like these could show that people are struggling to have homes even with no materials.”
A group of eco-builders called Bustan Shalom are rebuilding with Bedouin families in the Negev. Their speaking tour brings them to visit the SF Bay area in two weeks. The Rebuilding Alliance is inviting all the green builders in our area for a house party for Bustan, so we can learn more about this work to show examples to our partners and the families in Gaza.
It may be possible to build with local materials, even shipping containers, if engineers and architects can design to meet the family’s needs. Next step: touch base with the Al Bahry family to explore these ideas further.
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