A special appeal from our friend Anees Mansour in Rafah

The Hope and Peace Foundation has now been providing services for Rafah children for one year. The program is going to lose the lease on the building they are presently using, unless they raise six months worth of rent by the end of this month, through this on line funding campaign. Please see the link below for more information. Anees wrote:

My friends,

I hope you, your families and your loved ones are doing well. I would like to wish all my Muslim brothers and sisters Eid Mubarak.

The 1st September was the final day of the building rental, and this is where we practice our activities with the kids. We received an evacuation note from the building owner to evacuate the building. As you all may know that we have been doing our best since August 2015 to serve the children of Rafah via the art and cultural activities. As a team we believe these kind of activities are extremely beneficial to the kids, where we can keep them away from the bad psychological situation. We are all together here to support those who in need our help. So we are hoping to achieve our goal as soon as possible through this link: http://www.launchgood.com/ ChildrenOfPalestine

Let me thank you all for all of your kindness and support.

​Best Wishes
Anees

GoFundMe Request by Rafah Filmmaker Fida Qishta

Fida Qishta, who visited us in Madison in 2014 and 2015 to show her powerful first film Where Should the Birds Fly, has been in film school in California. She is looking for donations to help fund her thesis film Equally Damaged. Please consider a donation via the gofundme link or check. As of today, she is still in need of $2,000.

We still have copies of Where Should the Birds Fly for sale, and one that we can loan for showings. If anyone is interested, let me know.

Thanks,
Barb O.

Dear friends,

I hope you are all doing well. I’m almost done with my Master program in Film and Media Production and will be graduating in September.

I’ll start filming my final thesis film Equally Damaged on July 22nd. Please check my go fund me campaign and give it a kick. Share it, and send it to your friends and mailing list.

https://www.gofundme.com/247ak64

If you’d like to send a check please make it out to me and send it to:

    Fida Qishta
    3409 West Alameda Ave, Apt B
    Burbank, CA 91505

Best, Fida


Director Statement
Growing up in Palestine is pretty hard. A Mid-East conflict zone, every day was a challenge, even life in my close-knit neighborhood was subject to conflicts and destruction. The landscape was constantly changing as homes and streets were destroyed. I always wondered, when I was young, what could make people stop killing each other. I realized as I grew up that the war machine is like a bubble, each side is separated from the other, and neither one is willing to acknowledge the other’s point of view. As a child, I thought the whole world was like my neighborhood. The first time I traveled, it opened my eyes to the world, and I saw things differently from when I was growing up. I felt cheated of normality. This is why I wanted to make a film that shows the damage that conflicts and wars cause on both sides that are involved. People in front of or behind the gun are damaged, and that is what I want to get across with this film. War and conflict can strip away humanity, and yet I believe that love and forgiveness are possible and worth fighting for.

Please help me fund the production of Equally Damaged. I will submit it as my master’s thesis project at the New York Film Academy and will enter it in film festivals. The film is a short , it will run 15-30 minutes. With the resources of the New York Film Academy, I can make Equally Damaged for $10,500.

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Gaza Summer Camp

Gaza Summer Camp — July 17, 2016

Dearest Friends,

I would like to thank you all so much for your support to our project “Gaza Summer Camp”. I would also like to inform you that we have achieved our goal. Again your support is much appreciated. Here are some pictures of the first few days of the project.

In the other hand, we will start a few Skype meeting, please if you’re interested to join your kids into it let us know, feel free to ad my skype anees.mansour7

So keep your eyes open for our further updates.

Best Wishes from Gaza

Mr. Mahmoud Mansour (Anees)
Hope & Peace Foundation For Children – Gaza
Mobile: +970 599 028556
+970 2131 371
www.facebook.com/HPFFC

Vote for our Gaza photo in Global Giving contest!

Our photo (above), taken by Mohammad Mansour, was selected as a finalist in Global Giving’s 2016 Photo Contest! This picture was taken while the first pallet of Luci Lights that we sent was being distributed at the Women’s Project Center in Rafah, Gaza. If we win the competition, we will put the prize money towards sending another pallet — our hope is that we can give a light to every child in Gaza, to help them and their families cope with the difficulties of daily power outages.

Voting is easy — just click this link to find our photo. Then, check your email to confirm your vote! We love to see photos of the children that are receiving the Luci Lights, it is a great reminder of how important this project is.

Thanks for your support, and don’t forget to vote this week!

Best,
Donna


Project #18427

Brighten the Future of Gaza’s Children

by Rebuilding Alliance
Story  Reports  Photos  Share

Summary

Help send solar-powered lights to the children of Gaza so they can do their homework at night when the electricity goes out. We found a way to ship pallets of Luci Lights, personal solar lanterns, through the blockade to Non-Governmental Organizations in Gaza, working with them to distribute to children and families in need. This is a precedent-setting initiative that will empower Gaza's next generation, and tell their stories, help open the blockade, and bring hope and safety to all.

$134,390 total goal
$17,637 remaining
774 donors
4 monthly donors
1 year active

Challenge

Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip live in darkness every day. Electricity is limited by the 10 year-long blockade. Now the power plant is shut down, giving families only 4 hours of electricity in each day. When the lights go out, everything stops. Nightly tasks become impossible without dangerous kerosene lamps or candle flames. Imagine being a student and not having light to finish your homework, or a little child without a nightlight.

Solution

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Gaza: Abandoned in the Middle of Nowhere

, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, June 28, 2016

During a brief pause to hostilities in July 2014, families returned to eastern Gaza, which saw some of the heaviest bombings. Photo Credit: Oxfam / Flickr

Palestinians in Gaza are largely forgotten. They are an invisible people inhabiting a world without rights and possibilities. Over Israel’s near 50-year occupation, Gaza and the West Bank were reduced from a lower middle-income economy to a dysfunctional economy disproportionately dependent on foreign assistance. Gaza is under immense pressure from a continued blockade, now in its tenth year. Egyptian restrictions on the movement of people through Rafah, “which has remained largely closed… since October 2014, including for humanitarian assistance”[1] increased internal discord and hindered intra-Palestinian reconciliation.

There are stunningly high levels of unemployment and poverty. According to the World Bank, unemployment currently stands at 43 percent and in excess of 60 percent for Gazan youth. Yet, while Gaza’s economic demise is well documented, the blockade’s societal impact is often neglected. The blockade created a series of long-term, chronic conditions in Palestinian society,[2] including the destruction of civilian space, changes to social structure and health status, widespread trauma, a dramatic change in popular attitudes, and finally, a widening generational divide.

As United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Spokesman Chris Gunness notes: “The juxtaposition of hopelessness and despair, contrasted with the transformational potential of Gazan society, has never been so palpable.”[3]According to the World Bank, the Israeli blockade alone—which has severed almost all of the territory’s ties to the outside world, virtually terminating Gaza’s critically needed export trade—decreased Gaza’s GDP by at least 50 percent since 2007.[4] Egypt’s near total termination of Gaza’s tunnel trade—a vital, albeit underground economic lifeline—dealt an additional and extremely damaging blow. On top of this, the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, or Operation Protective Edge (OPE), worsened an already bleak situation by reducing Gaza’s economy by an additional $460 million.

This set in motion what one local analyst called a “dynamic of disintegration” that produced a range of unprecedented socioeconomic changes. Combined with the ruinous impact of the blockade, OPE was resulted in extensive damage to or destruction of homes, schools, health facilities, factories, businesses, sewage and water treatment infrastructure, and agriculture — effectively resulting in the destruction of civilian space. At least 100,000 people found themselves homeless, resulting in an estimated 75,000 being displaced, 11,200 being injured, at least 1,000 becoming permanently disabled, and 1,500 children becoming orphaned.[5]

Gaza’s society was radically leveled, particularly with the virtual destruction of its middle class and the emergence of an unprecedentedly new class of “poor.” Perhaps emblematic of the damage done to society, particularly since the imposition of the blockade, is Gaza’s rising infant mortality rate (IMR). IMR not only measures the health status of children, but also of the whole population. For the first time in more than 50 years, the IMR in Gaza increased from 20.2 per 1,000 live births in 2008 to 22.4 in 2013. Neonatal mortality rates, or the number of children who die within four weeks of birth, experienced a dramatic increase from 12.0 in 2008 to 20.3 in 2013, an uptick of nearly 70 percent. In Gaza, there is also a documented rise in domestic violence and child labor, as well as considerable anecdotal evidence for an increase in prostitution. No doubt the blockade, coupled with the last three wars in Gaza, is a contributing factor.

According to local health officials, 80 percent of adults in Gaza suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. During OPE, all sectors of the Strip were subject to or threatened with some kind of attack. According to Yale Professor Brian Barber, “OPE was uniquely crippling because no one was free of risk, and no place was safe to find refuge. It was, in a sense, universally and inescapably terrorizing.”[6] Every child over the age of six has seen three wars, and at least 400,000 children are in need of immediate psychological intervention, according to the UN. As a result, OPE has created a profound sense of collective dread and desperation that has less to do with the war than the inhuman conditions left unchanged since the war. People have never felt less safe and secure or more devoid of hope.

The people of Gaza once maintained more nuanced views of Israel, but now see little possibility for peace. There appears to be a greater generational divide between the “older” Oslo generation (and earlier cohorts), who had some insight into Israel and the world beyond, and those born since Oslo, who have little insight, if any. Gaza’s population is very young, with nearly half of the population being 14 years of age and younger. This is extremely dangerous, especially in the absence of effective leadership and in an environment that offers so little. Furthermore, the generational divide appears to be shifting. Young people, some reportedly as young as 10-12 years, are assuming responsibilities reserved for individuals far older. Children are forced out of school to work and help support their families; in some cases, they even head households.[7] Even before OPE, almost 30 percent of all young people aged 16-17 were out of school in Gaza and the West Bank. People, especially the young, are acutely aware of what they are being denied. How long can they be expected to accept their own deprivation?

Reconstruction is so painfully slow that no one in Gaza, save international organizations, discusses it anymore. By November 2015, only 170 homes out of 18,000-19,000 destroyed or severely damaged were rebuilt.[8] By April 2016, according to the UN, nearly 3,000 homes were rebuilt or made livable. Not surprisingly, “an estimated 1.3 million people [out of a total population of 1.8 million] are in need of humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip in 2016.”[9] These people have a range of skills, but are deliberately denied the right to work by Israel, the United States. and the European Union. They are instead forced into a debilitating dependency on foreign aid. Foreign donors are almost non-existent in the context of reconstruction, because the majority of promised monies—approximately 65 percent–has yet to materialize.[10] Even if donations were waiting to be funneled in, longstanding Israeli restrictions obstruct the importation of needed construction materials, despite an easing of certain restrictions in recent months.

Because of security concerns, Israel prohibits the entry of a range of items into Gaza, , including wooden boards thicker than 1cm.[11] Thus, many Gazans must salvage building materials, yet another example of the normalization of violence and illegality, which the international community continues to accept. An official with the Israeli human rights organization, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, captured Gaza’s situation, noting: “In the rest of the world we try to bring people up to the humanitarian standard. Gaza is the only place where we’re trying to push them down—to keep them at the lowest possible indicators.”[12] The assistance provided by international donors is not meant to raise people out of poverty, but to maintain their survival within it. It is not meant to alter the structures of unemployment and dependency, but to sustain and reinforce them. It is not meant to alleviate the causes of suffering but, simply, to manage them.

What will happen when Palestinian despair defines Palestinian identity?[13] Will Israel respond, as it long has, by building more barriers and inflicting more misery? Will the international community respond by providing more sacks of flour and bags of rice? Palestinians working in major media outlets were recently instructed by their home offices not to cover Gaza in depth. “Barring a major event” they were told, there were to be “no human interest stories, no day-to-day coverage, and no focus on suffering.” This is, the media staff are told, in order “to diminish any linkage with the West Bank and any understanding of Gaza and what has happened to it. Gaza is abandoned in the middle of nowhere.”[14] As long as occupation and colonization continue, there can be no resolution and no conclusion. What Gaza needs, what all Palestinians and Israelis need, is for the occupation to end and for liberation to begin.



Sara Roy (Ed.D. Harvard University) is a senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies specializing in the Palestinian economy, Palestinian Islamism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dr. Roy is also co-chair of the Middle East Seminar, jointly sponsored by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and co-chair of the Middle East Forum at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

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Child Psychological Support by Anees Mansour

Hello from Gaza. My name is Anees Mansour, one of a group of volunteers working with at-risk children in Rafah, Gaza. With your help we’ve already done so much this year, we’ve put on a summer camp, a series of educational workshops, art therapy and performance sessions. From the photos below you can see some of the great results we’ve had.

The public response to our work has been so supportive – so thank you. Our new initiative is to train 18 new volunteers to provide psycho-social support to the children we work with here in Rafah. To reach more children we need more volunteers and we need to train them in basic counselling and art therapy. You don’t need me to tell you how badly the children of Gaza need a creative outlet in a safe space. Rafah is one of the poorest areas in Gaza and the psychological pressures on children are, frankly, brutal. We are working to create and maintain some small safe spaces for them to grow and your ongoing help is central to our efforts.

Rafah is in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, Palestine on the Palestinian-Egyptian border, with an estimated area of 55 km and home to a population of 270,000 people, of whom a large proportion are children. Rafah is one of the poorest areas in Gaza, which, of course, is suffering from a prolonged, brutal siege. All and any help is appreciated.

you can see the pictures of our past projects @
• Gaza Summer Camp
• Our Right To Play
• Our Health in Our Hands
• Field Trip

For any further information , don’t hesitate to contact me at: anemansour@gmail.com or by phone on 00970598699046

Thanks in advance!

Remembering Rachel Corrie

March 16 marked 13 years since 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli Army bulldozer while trying to prevent the demolition of the Nasrallah family home in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Palestine. While some measure of accountability and justice has been achieved for UK citizens Tom Hurndall and James Miller, the two other internationals killed by Israel in that same awful period, there has been no justice for Rachel Corrie within either the U.S. or the Israeli legal system.

Nevertheless, Rachel’s stand in Gaza still inspires us and countless others around the world to work for peace with justice for Palestine, and for Gaza in particular, with a special focus on improving the lives of children who represent the best hope for the future.

Here in Madison, we will celebrate the life of Rachel Corrie on Sunday, April 3, at 7 pm at Christ Presbyterian Church, 944 East Johnson Street, with an eye-witness report from a local volunteer just returned from two months of volunteering in Palestine with Operation Dove. We invite you to join us for dessert and refreshments, and to help support the installation of a playground in Hebron, Palestine; for details including RSVP request please click here

Today, as we remember Rachel, please take a moment to read the following comment and appeal from our partners and friends at the Rachel Corrie Foundation in Olympia, Washington, Rachel’s home town, where a remembrance is being held.

March 10th – April 10th: A time of rebirth and reflection

Dear Friends,

Here in our hometown of Olympia, Washington, another spring unfolds with persistent showers, daffodils along the roadsides, and trees blooming more vibrantly with each passing day. It’s March again, a time of rebirth. In our community, and certainly at the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, our thoughts turn to Rachel – to the upcoming thirteenth anniversary of her stand in Gaza and, unbelievably for her family, to her upcoming 37th birthday April 10th.

As I write, we are preparing for our local March 16th gathering when we will celebrate Rachel’s community here in Olympia, those in Gaza whom she grew to love, and all of you who with your interest and actions have become a community of supporters. We will reflect upon Rachel’s stand thirteen years ago and upon those in Gaza who continue to live and struggle there. We will spend the day and month exploring how we can make a difference for our global community and for our friends in the Middle East.

Already word is trickling in from some of you about the remembrances you’ve planned or are creating – the gatherings, the new poetry written, the projects you will support in Rachel’s memory. We are touched to hear from you and grateful.

During this month, as we pause to remember, we need your help. Each of you are so important to the work we do in my daughter’s name at the Rachel Corrie Foundation. You continue to provide the encouragement and the resources that make all our efforts possible – the educational events, the projects in Gaza, the scholarships, the advocacy, the networking, and more.

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