The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Mezan Center is Key Partner in Palestine

Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, May 9, 2005

Madison — The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project (MRSCP) has enlisted the Mezan Center for Human Rights in Palestine as its key partner in maintaining peopleto-people relations with the citizens of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. The Mezan Center is a non-profit, non-partisan, transparent and accountable human rights organization with the mandate “to promote, protect and prevent violations of human rights in general and economic, social and cultural rights in particular,” and “to enhance the quality of life of the community in marginalized sectors of the Gaza Strip.” Core donors are the Netherlands Representative Office , the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the French Consulate, and the Ford Foundation.

In the past, Al Mezan has been instrumental in acting as an intermediary between MRSCP and grassroots organizations in Rafah including the Rafah municipality under the mayorship of Said Zoroub, the Palestine Health and Education Ministries, the General Union of Palestinian Women, the Gaza Community Mental Health Center-Rafah Branch, the Palestine Children’s Parliament, and the Palestine Center for Human Rights.

Based in Gaza City, the Mezan Center has recently opened a branch office in Rafah. Since communication with the Gaza Strip is extremely difficult, this extension presents MRSCP with an unique opportunity: acting as a local liaison, Al Mezan can provide assistance in establishing new sistering ties, facilitate delegations from Madison, coordinate humanitarian and cultural projects between MRSCP and other parties, offer translation assistance and logistical advice, and maintain regular contact and records with its Madison-Rafah counterparts. Annual meetings and delegations to and from Rafah are among the primary goals of both MRSCP and Al Mezan in the coming years.

In April 2005, MRSCP has successfully completed its Playground for Rafah campaign. Two delegations from Madison have traveled to Palestine, one with Playgrounds for Palestine (PfP) to Rafah, another with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions to Israel and the West Bank. In its current project, MRSCP plans to purchase Wisconsin powdered milk and deliver it by September 2005 to the people of Rafah.