Monday, August 27, 2007

Help Fida, save the Lifemakers Centre in Rafah!

In previous posts, I've mentioned the work of the tireless Fida Qishta of Rafah, which we are highlighting in our latest short documentary, "Where do the Children Play?". Many of you have asked me how you can help support Fida's work-either by way of donating to the playground project currently in the works, or the Centre itself. I've just learned from Fida that because they are no longer able to pay the rent, the Centre may shut down, and they are in dire straights. She's asked me to send the word out about their situation and see if anybody can assist. Here is some more information from her on the Centre itself. Donations can be made directly to Fida.

Her email is

We are life makers in Palestine , Gaza strip , Rafah city .

As part of our work we started the Life Makers Center as a start, for children, which tries to provide an oasis of peace in a particularly devastated and impoverished area. We currently receive more than 250 children. We started with 40 children, three times a week , for three a hours after school. If we have more recourses we would accommodate more children and this is a long - term aim of ours.

Our main objective is to give children a safe place to play, to educate and help children overcome trauma .

At the center , we started with 40 children that was in 2004 , but now in 2006 our projects received more than 300 kids .

At the center volunteers from Rafah ,Gaza strip (students or postgraduates ) teach and play with the children who aged between 7 and 17. Generally , we divide our three hours sessions into three parts – an hour of English lessons ,an hour of play, singing and dancing ,and an hour of discussing the children's' lives and problems.

Most of these children come from the Hay salam and El Brazil border area . The majority have had their homes bulldozed and now live with relatives . Their families are too poor to move further away from the border area. Many of the children have witnessed violence first hand. Some have seen relatives killed, their homes demolished , or have been injured themselves.

We provide activities for children , for example handicraft, painting, reading , English lessons, games and tours .

Our team is not psychologists but it is clear to us that the children from the border are deeply traumatized after years of conflict . our dearest wish is to help these children to the best of our ability , welcome any professional training to help us do a better job in helping the children to deal with sadness, anger ,depression and fear.

For now, we do our best by giving them attention , affection and security. Our biggest objective is to create a bit of normality for these children- where they can come and play in a supervised, safe area , with their patents approval, and forget for a while the tanks , bulldozers and soldiers they can see from their homes.

At mainstream school , they find it hard to concentrate because their minds are on what's happening outside and learning is not their priority . the children like the center because there is no pressure , no exams and its fun atmosphere.

We are officially open 7 hours a day , and most the kids turn up every day and we never turn them away . we would like to extend our centre to help other children especially younger ones .how ever , to date we haven’t been able to afford that expansion .

We charge 5 shekels (1$us ) a month for the children to attend our centre. However, many of the parents can't afford this so we group members have use our personal earnings to keep the centre open.

We thank all people who understand our mission .

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mark your calenders: Tunnel Trade on Aljazeera

I'm going take the liberty to use a post for advertisement. After all, what kind of blog would this be if I didn't use it for shameless self-promotion? I'm happy to announce that finally-after months of hard work-our film (our being Saeed Farouky, myself, and the wonderful production team at Tourist with a Typewriter in London), Tunnel Trade, will air on Aljazeera English at the following dates and times:

Monday, September 2, 2007
14:30 GMT and again at 01:30 GMT

Thursday, September 5, 2007
01:30 and 13:30

Friday, September 6, 2007
06:30 and 08:30

If you don't get the channel, you can watch the program live on their website.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The law of the land

I've been following the situation closely back home. The past few months have really gotten me down-maybe its journalist fatigue.

I get tired having to explain the "situation back home" every time someone finds out I'm from Gaza and have recently been there. This might sound odd for someone with such a public internet persona. But with many people I've come in contact with, I have to start from scratch... forget about ID cards and border crossings and a non-functional, non-sovereign authority split between two still-occupied territories divided by borders and air and water they don't control.

I suppose part of it is realizing my existence is at stake somehow in all of this. I have to renew my Palestinian "passport" soon (I and have that in quotations because the "passport" is, as stated in the first page, issued pursuant to the sham that is Oslo), but I can't go back to Gaza. I have no where to go to, no where to return to. At least not now. Permanence is transient. Transience is permanent.

I've taken to doing some senseless things lately. Trying to clear my mind, regain some perspective. I watched a little bit of "Escape from Alcatrez" the other day. Funny, but it looked like paradise compared to Gaza now. I also just finished reading Ben White's "Brief Encounters with Che Guevera", a collection of short stories, many of them about Haiti and US involvement there. Naturally, I thought of our situation. I thought-can it get any more f****** up than t his? No really, I'm serious, can it?

I'm not sure what it will take anymore for people to realize the absurdity of it all. I mean, sanctioning an occupied people for God's sake? Demanding an end to "violence" by those occupied people all while the US shells out another $30 billion in military aid to the world's third strongest army?

And I'm not talking about the US only here. I'm talking about our very own Arab governments who, from day one, bowed in submission to US commands to freeze financial transactions to Hamas. Yes, the world, including the Arab world, has been complicit in the destruction of a society.

And now we have Abbas the degenerate thinking he's actually running the show in the West Bank; suddenly the money starts coming in, some prisoners scheduled for release anyway are released, leaving thousands of others languishing; and Abbas and his cronies are the new "moderates"; was it worth it? A few weeks ago a friend working with a respected human rights organization asked Saeb Erekat whether there had been any talks or negotiations with Israel regarding re-opening Rafah Crossing. Plain and simple, he answered no. If only he'd exert so much effort in all his negotiations.\

Amazing how just a few years ago Sharon flew to Washington to convince Bush Abbas was not a partner for peace.

And now there are calls for early elections that will exclude parties who "don't obey the law". And what law might that be, exactly?