|GAZA VISIT, December 3, 2007|
Sunday, December 9, 2007
two Brothers at the boarder. They began with a visit to Bet Hanoun school. With the prices of food skyrocking this last month the teachers could buy much less food with the amount of money which we gave them for the breakfasts. By example the prices of fruite is more than double than then the prices in Jerusalem. Before the prices in Jerusalem were much lower for fruit. We were present when the children received a banana each. They even waited for us to distribute them.
The price of gas has gone up so many children cannot be transported to school now. They asked for help to pay for the transport for this school only. Now the families pay 25 IS monthly for the transport and there are 40 children who need transport. Most of the parents cannot pay any of the cost. Can we contribute monthly 1,000 IS to cover this cost?
We went to the new school in the Shaaf neighborhood of 30,000 residence of Gaza city. Sabah explained to the directress and her staff, our system of collaboration. Especially how she is to use the 900 IS which we give them for the breakfast program. We will start to give them money for breakfast food in December. This school has almost nothing and the first need is dishes and silverware. For this we need to give them IS500 and for the pans and the hot plate they will need IS300.
Sabah insists that now in this difficult time it is very important that the children come to school to get their breakfast as there is no food for them at.
We continued on to Mussadar school. Mohamad still asks for an addition on their building to provide many more services to the school and to the local community. Sabah is looking to help find a benefactor for this.
We met Grada and Maha at the Missionaries of Charity and we paid the money for the last three months which we hadn’t had a chance to do before.
Sabah propose that each school signs a document created by the team giving the information essential for each school and declares the type of collaboration which exists between each school and our team. It should be dated from September until the end of May.
To be present for a distribution of the food in one school we will try to be there on December 15 th. And we will stay for three days, 14, 15, and 16. Sunday will be the day that Msgr. Sabbah will come to celebrate the feast of Christmas with the parish.
(Kiriat Yovel) IL010915
n° di conto 915-13074/01
codice SWIFT: LUMIILIT XXX
Sunday, November 11, 2007
We made good time and arrived at Eretz Checkpoint by 8:30 AM. We proceeded to passport control where we had hardly presented our passports when we were ordered to go quickly to the 'protected’ room. (I knew then why I had not gone to Gaza in ten months). After 20 minutes or so, we were ordered to return to passport control to continue the process of getting into Gaza. Shortly after two of us had our passports stamped, 'Exit’, I received a mobile phone call from our faithful colleague, Sabah Saraj, to tell us that there was fighting in the nearby village of Beit Hanoun, which I knew as soon as we were connected because I could hear machine gun fire.. Undaunted, we braved the situation and agreed to continue rather than turning right around and going back to Bethlehem. Did we make a mistake? On reaching the outside, we were greeted by 3 Apache helicopters hovering overhead, with their noses pointed at Beit Hanoun and occasionally shooting rockets; we could hear the shwiiiiish and shortly after the boooooom. Sabah greeted us with all smiles and said: “Don't worry it is peaceful and quiet in Gaza City. This happens daily and we are used to it.” Not having the faith of Sister Susan, who would say: “This is God's work and He will protect us',” I kept saying that to myself all the time we were in in Gaza. However, being neophytes to such warfare, we decided to curtail our stay and visit only the two schools we wanted to see, Zakher Kindergarten in Shijyyia area of Gaza City and the Baram El Amal near Bureij Refugee Camp in the middle of the strip. It was impossible to visit Amjad Kindergarten in Beit Hanoun; we weren’t crazy enough to go there even though the shooting seemed to have ended.
The main purpose of this report is to comment on our visit to the two schools. First, we went to the closer school in Shijayya and on the way to the school, I observed the narrow, dirt and rutted roads, the poor condition of the houses and shops along the way and the obvious poverty of the area. Because of the economic situation, most of the families lost their resources and depend upon donations and food assistance from Social Services.. The school is in an old rented building rather dark, with 4 small overcrowded classrooms, two bathrooms and a hall, serving 123 children, ages 3,4,5. There are 120 chairs half of which are very old, a few old tables, no shelves, no desks, no toys, no dishes, no cups, no refrigerator. There are four teachers and two volunteers, mostly unemployed university graduates, some from that area. It is a marvel that these women can teach so many children in one classroom under such circumstances. We had a brief discussion with the manager of the Zakher Women’s Association, responsible for this kindergarten and two others, the principal of the school. It is obvious that the school is in need of help and this will be one of our main topics at our meeting next week.
We then traveled several miles into the middle of the Strip to visit Baram El Amal kindergarten in Bureij camp. As we rode through the camp, I could see that there were a fair number of cars, some trucks, but many donkey drawn carts—gas is very expensive when available—many people in the streets, some just sitting an chatting, some stores doing business, others closed, school children and adults moving to and fro, so all seemed rather normal. As we drove by the people shouted greetings and welcomed us. To me, it was encouraging to see that the people, in spite of the difficulties, seem to be managing, at least externally.. After listening to Sabah and Awatif, head of the Bud Flower Association, which is responsible for Baram El Amal school, I realized that people are hungry and that there are some abuses beginning to occur in the families.. I was impressed with the improvement over the months in the school.. My last recollection of it was that of the destruction caused by shootings, bombings and destruction of the land by the Israeli forces, which destroyed the school yard and fence protecting the children, most of the windows without glass, and other internal damage. Everything now is in very good condition, glass in all the windows, the walls painted a bright blue, posters in corridors , the classroom displaying educational charts and pictures, and just a resurrection. Much credit it due to the women and members of the association of their efforts in repairing and modernizing the school facilities.After a falafel sandwich, about 12:15 PM, we headed back to the checkpoint via the shore road to see the Mediterranean and the sandy coast of Gaza, (what a resort it would make if the situation were different!) , We arrived about 1:30 PM, earlier than original planned and after fifteen minutes or so were permitted to go to the checkpoint building. When leaving Gaza, the passports are collected at a place several hundred yards before the checkpoint, where the passports are collected and the names and numbers relayed to the Israeli personnel, who eventually give permission to approach. When we reached the building, we waited and waited and waited until one and a half hours later the doors automatically opened and we were allowed to enter the luggage, personal and passport controls area. Of course, no reason, excuse, or apologies were given. However, much to my surprise, I found the order and system of this new procedure more efficient than the old way. We completed the check-in about half an hour. If only we didn’t have to wait so long before they allowed us to enter. Again our passports were stamped, with ‘entry’ this time. We left Eretz about 4:25 PM and the closer we got to Jerusalem the more traffic we met. Having dropped the Brothers off at New Gate and Andrea Merli at Herod’s Gate. I arrive back in the community house about 6:20 PM, almost 12 hours since leaving earlier that morning.
November 2, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
This was a particularly hard visit for me as it was my last, especially saying good-by to Sabah. Br. Lorenzo and Andrew a volunteer here in Bethany went with me. Br. Lorenzo, like his companion Br. Andrea who went to Gaza with us earlier in the month are both interested in going with our team regularly to Gaza.
We visited the le Amad School and saw all the teachers who had just finished the summer camp the day before. Following we went to the Mussadar School and saw the summer camp in full swing. After we went to the village near to the Awatif’s school in Maraze. They have one day left of summer camp. In all three schools we admired the crafts done by the children and saw some dance the Dubky.
When near the Mussadar School we visited some particularly poor families who receive our cartons of food. We were able to leave them some used clothing.
Everywhere we went we listened to their stories telling how bad the situation is getting. Sabah and Maha said it we could provide a uniform, school supplies and books for one child in each family of eight, it would be wonderful. We were able to give her donations given us for five children only. Each child would need about IS 100 for these needed items.
Before leaving we visited the Missionaries of Charity. All but one was present. It was a nice visit.
|Visit 21 Agust 2007|