Sunday, May 25, 2008

Meeting at Bethany, Saturday, May 24, 2008

Brothers Lorenzo & Andréa, Father Don Moore, Andrea Merli, and Br. Joe

The most important decision made was: both Orla of Tuesday Child and Oliver and Maren contact by e-mail Brother Lorenzo directly, since he is accountant for all funds relating the work in Gaza of the Daughters of Charity Gaza project this year. Copies of these e-mails should be sent to Brother Andrea and Sister Susan. Br. Joe was asked to e-mail Orla and Oliver and Marin as soon as possible and to explain this decision to them. This change will not only simplify matters but in may cases expedite movements.

Two decisions were made to be effective immediately
1. To keep the emergency food program operating for the next three months of June, July and August (if we have funds for August).
The amount spent each month will be fixed at NIS 23,000 equivalent to $7,000.00 at today's rate regardless of the exchange rate.
Br. Joe was requested to ask Orla when Tuesday's' Child will begin to send the monthly checks for food distribution as mentioned in her letter of May 19th.

2. Summer camps will be funded as planned.
Oliver is to be requested to send the funds for 4 camps as usual to the bank as soon as possible and to notify Br. Lorenzo when the funds have been transferred.
This year because of the lower exchange rates and the increased cost of food in Gaza, Oliver will be asked to increase the amount per camp by $200.00, which means that one camp would cost $1,200.00 and the four camps would total $ 4,800,00.
If Oliver has any more funds, we would ask him to increase the number of summer camps.
This summer many organization in Gaza are funding summer camps for as many children as possible but over 8 years. Nothing is being done for kindergarten children so our program is most worthwhile.

Other decisions were made for the coming academic year beginning September or later in the year
1. A major problem mentioned during our visit to Gaza on Wednesday May 13th was that the Kindergarten teachers have not been paid for most of this year 2008 because the children's parents can no longer pay the small amount of fees required by the administrators of the kindergartens.
Therefore we plan to give each teacher in the kindergartens we assist NIS 200 for a trial period of the two months of September and October. This problem was

2. Concerning support for Kindergartens next year, we would like to increase the fund by NIS 100 due to the higher costs of food.
Also we have decided to set a standard amount per kindergarten based on the number of children registered for the academic semester.
This item needs more discussion and input by Sabah. We are considering the amount of NIS 900 for kindergartens with 100 to 140 pupils and NIS1000 for kindergartens over 140 pupils.

Two other topics to be considered at a later date are job creation and teacher training.

At the end of our last meeting in Gaza, the women displayed a number of examples of their embroidery. We were all impressed and wondered how we could help them sell these items to obtain funds to be used in their various projects. Two ideas were mentioned
1. Try to sell them through the internet by adding a website to the Webpage of the Daughters of Charity Project created by Br. Lorenzo,
2. For now bring as may items as possible with us when we return and try to sell them here.

One final suggestion was made by Father Don just before leaving.
Investigate whether the Women's Association would be willing to be our regular meeting place in Gaza now that we no longer connect with CRS.

June 5 is the tentative date of our next visit to Gaza.
Since our trips to Gaza are very supportive to Sabah and others in Gaza, we plan to set a more regular time for our visits, probably monthly and as regularly as possible in the same week of each month. That will be discussed at a later meeting

Brother Joe
May 25, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Report visit, May 14, 2008

Father Don Moore, Brother Andres and Brother Joe
We made excellent time in driving to Gaza and arrived at the Eretz crossing at approximately 8:30 AM and by 9:30 AM were in the taxi driving toward Gaza city with Sabah and Ahmad our driver.
Because of the fuel situation, we made only one stop at Zakher School in the Shijaiyya area on the way to our meeting at the Association of Women, Committee for Social Work in Gaza City. I think it important to name some of the participants in the meeting; Maha, Etedal, Maysoon are members of the Women's society while Fawziya, Awatef and Mohammed represented the kindergartens. (I only wrote first names, with difficulty, and didn't even try the family names.)
A most lively and interesting discussion with many excellent ideas and suggestion lasted about one hour and a half.
Toward the end of the meeting, some of the handiwork made by members of the committee was exhibited and needless to say, purchases were made. We all agreed at our next visit to bring more money for further purchases. One suggestion for helping sell these items was to produce a website for internet sales. No promises, but perhaps something practical in this matter will be done.
At the conclusion of the meeting, we made a quick visit to the Mother Teresa Sisters of Charity. Unknown to us, it was their graduation day, but we arrived too late to participate.
We made surprisingly good time on departure, only taking one hour exiting Gaza and the rigmarole of passage to Israel. We left Eretz at 2:30 PM.
The interesting thing about the trip was the quiet and peace in Gaza, no explosions, no overhead noises, no masked men and a fairly good amount of activity in Gaza City especially at the general market. I was surprised at the number of vehicles and when commenting on it it, Sabah said: "Don't you smell it? The cars are operating on cooking oil, petrol is too expensive". What cooking oil does to the motor I don’t' know.