Greetings from Al Aqaba Village. I am delighted to be here to invite you to celebrate Sadiq and Lema's Wedding on Friday, April 18th. Everyone is working hard to make sure their house is finished on time.
Their wedding plans are modest by local standards: a henna party at the Fiancee's house on Thursday, the celebration for men and women (but not the bride) on Friday at Mayor Haj Sami's house with the Rural Women's Association serving the dinner, and then the celebration just for the women, bride and groom on Saturday.
Mayor Haj Sami invites you to this the National Wedding of Sadiq and Lema on the 18th. In the invitation, he wrote, "Come celebrate the return of this first family of displaced citizens to their new affordable home, crowd-funded by people around the world (that's you!) and the Al Aqaba Cooperative Assembly for Housing Displaced."
The wonderful series of photos attached to this report makes the finishing of the house look easy. I'm happy to report that the challenges were the normal things that nearly everyone faces when building a home: the contractor wanted more money. Because the dollar fell 9.2% since we spec'd the house in 2011, the price of materials rose even more.
Rebuilding Alliance founding board member Ghassan Abdullah joined me for a walk-through with the Rebuilding to Remain families and a good discussion with Mayor Haj Sami. Next our award-winning architect, Hani Hassan, visited and joined us for a discussion with the families, Mayor Haj Sami and me, thoroughly reviewing the contract. When Mayor Haj Sami and I spoke with the contractor the next day, we were able to reach a fair agreement re. extra costs for this home. Finishing of the next two homes will see the Al Aqaba Community Assembly for Housing Displaced seeking bids and contracting directly with each craftsman instead of working with a general contractor.
Rebuilding Alliance board met on Monday night California time (5am here) to elect two new board members and then elect officers. A big welcome to Rebuilding Alliance's new Board Chair Nadia Cooper, Secretary Kali Rubaii, Treasurer Carin Pacifico and new board members Jeremy McCain and Akber Malik. The board carefully reviewed and approved my request to transfer the remaining funds due plus $3773 in additional charges needed to finish, bringing the total cost of this first home to $37,073. The families agreed to ammend their mortgage agreement with the Al Aqaba Cooperative Assembly for Housing Displaced to include the finishing costs, thus extending their mortgage to a total of 24 years at a monthly payment of $150/mo. We all hope this revolving mortgage loan fund will be used to help build many more homes.
Lastly, you may be wondering what's happening with the overall status of our Rebuilding to Remain homes vis a vis the Israeli Army. Last week, Mayor Haj Sami Sadek posted urgent photos on his Facebook page when the Israeli Army held spring training exercises all around, and over the village. Thankfully, the Israeli Army held to their agreement, as brokered by the Israeli High Court, and did not use live fire inside the village.
Our Rebuilding to Remain homes have received their building permits from the Al Aqaba Village Council, the first Palestinian-issued building permits in Area C. Our homes are being build inside a red line drawn by the Israeli High Court in 2008 when they said, "For the time being the center of the village can remain standing." So far, thankfully, no demolition orders. I hope the world will find Rebuilding to Remain as inspiring as we do — please hold our homes, these families, and this project in the light. If possible, please forward this message to your senators and representative to ask them to be ready to make calls for us if needed. But first, very soon, let's celebrate a wedding.Thanks again,Donna
P.S. Please mark your calendar for May 7th, the next GlobalGiving Bonus Day Match. Let's use that 30% match that day to fund completion of the next two homes, and once those are done, let's raise enough to provide mortgage loans to the other seven famiies who've started building inside that circle, all with building permits issued by the Village Council.
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