I visited the RCVI in December 2012, after the 8 day bombing of Gaza, with Executive Director Barbara Lubin. Fortunately the center was fine, but the children at the center, like all the children I saw, were visibly shaken by the recent violence. There were signs of trauma in children everywhere, which is why the Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA) is focusing all of their emergency aid towards providing psycho social support for traumatized children.
I visited the center two days: one day the center was closed for a holiday and the second day children were just getting out of class. I was able to take pictures of the students and interact with them. I tasted the current water supply, which tastes like unfiltered seawater. These visits reinforced how urgent this project is and motivated me to focus on making sure it is successful.
We met with Dr Said Ghabayan, water expert and technical advisor, who was informed that the RCVI would be a future site for the installation of a reverse osmosis water treatment system. He educated us about recent improvements they have made to the systems, such as adding automatic shut off valves, and it was agreed we would conduct research and try to procure better taps, as over time the current ones can get worn down or break.
Dr Ghabayen will begin with a formal site evaluation and conduct water testing at the Rehabilitation Centre for the Visually Impaired ( RCVI) in the near future. It has been a relief to be in regular email contact with him since my return to the United States and keep him posted on our fundraising progress. Once the funding goal is reached, we will then be able to approach the contracted company for installation. Through our contractual agreements and with the assistance of MECA staff in Gaza, MECA also provides one year of maintenance to the systems and training to local UN staff on maintenance, changing filters and upkeep. We have also initiated an educational component where students at schools where these water systems are installed learn about the water crisis in Gaza, how it is a result of the occupation, and involve children in taking ownership and pride in the water system at their school.
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