Gaza? Birthday? What are you talking about Nora?

Update! $260 raised so far for The Gaza Fund at Dalia Association!

Thanks and hugs to Carolyn Quffa, Mary Onorato, Vicki Tamoush, and Pauline Solomon.

Time seems to accelerate as I approach my fiftieth birthday, intensifying my gratitude for a life with purpose but also highlighting all that is still undone in this sick, beautiful world. There is no shortage of causes to work for, but one that has stolen my heart is Gaza.

Over one-and-one-half million human beings are locked in the Gaza Strip, a majority of whom are children and youth. Like many other Palestinians, they are denied the right to earn a living, denied the right to enjoy their own water and other natural resources, denied the right to move around for educational or recreational opportunities, and denied the right to compete fairly with others to achieve their dreams.

For this reason, I’ve decided to celebrate my birthday on May 5, 2014 by asking friends, family, and folks of conscience “out there in the world” to help me make a small dent in the inhuman and wasteful siege on Gaza. More specifically, I am asking you to do three things:

1-Make a contribution of any size into a “Gaza Fund” that I am opening at Dalia Association, Palestine’s community foundation. (Even better if you make your contribution monthly, quarterly or annually.) Be sure to write “Earmarked for Gaza” at the top of the credit card form.

But because we know that money alone doesn’t solve anything, I ask that you ALSO…

2-Take at least one political action to help lift the siege on Gaza. I suggest a letter or email to a political representative asking him or her to bring the urgency of the siege into the governmental debate.

And because we know that one-time political actions aren’t enough and we really need a sustained effort, I ask that you ALSO…

3-Join an organization or sign up for a newsletter so that you will stay informed about developments relating to Gaza and Palestine in the long term, not just when there’s bad news that reaches the front pages.

I’m asking for a lot, but because I believe that birthdays (and everyday in between) are a time for giving, not just receiving, I want to give you a gift, too. I will release a short, video-taped interview with a person from Gaza every day in the weeks leading up to my birthday. You will enjoy hearing directly from Gazans about the issues they care about, about their daily lives, and about what they wish the world would understand.

Please give your own suggestions about political actions to take and organizations to join in the comments section.

Please sign up for my newsletter to be informed about new videos and other articles I write related to Gaza, Palestine, international aid, development, philanthropy, and occupation.

Please spread the word about my birthday campaign to your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers, and other networks.

Please check out Dalia Association and sign up for their newsletter to be kept informed about Palestinian-led development and the opening of the new Gaza Fund.

And please have a really happy 2014.

Share

Gazans feel isolated

Four+ minutes. Straight to the heart.

A Muslim Palestinian originally from Gaza, Ms. Besisso, 44, currently lives in Ramallah. Her parents came from well-known families who became refugees after the 48-49 war. Her grandfather often remarked that he felt sorry his grandchildren were raised poor while he had land, home and a business before the war. She is an only child and, as such, it was her parents’ dream that she marry and have a family; so she married at 17 and raised 6 children. They range from 26 to 8 years old.

She believes it is important to work hard to improve herself and her society. Ms. Besisso has worked for several international and local organizations including: American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Save the Children USA, Defense for Children International, the Jerusalem Media Communication Center, and others. After earning diplomas from Al Azhar University and Kann’an Educational Development Institute in Gaza, she is working on a B.A. in Social Work from Al Quds Open University. She also earned a technical training certificate in Field Research and Project Coordination from the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.

Ms. Besisso has spoken to audiences in the U.S. and Europe through Peace x Peace and Joining Hands Against Hunger (a Presbyterian Church initiative). She currently works as Freelance Community Trainer and advocacy activist where her main task is to organize, carry out, train, and evaluate nonviolence training and other advocacy projects. She is also the founder of Women for Justice.

Share

Electricity in Gaza

Absolutely fascinating 7 minutes. Coping with constant power outages living on the 9th floor…

Najla is from Gaza, she works for a humanitarian organization there. She can be followed on twitter at @whateveringaza.

She’s willing to answer questions! Amazing opportunity for us all to learn more.

Share

The Job Skills Gap in Gaza with Nahedd Kayyali

3 minutes.

“My name is Nahedd Kayyali. I am from Gaza City. I am 26 years old. I have Bachelor’s Degree in Software Development, and I am continuing my higher education towards an MBA. I work as an ICT Program Coordinator in an international NGO that supports university graduates to become more competitive on the job market. My job makes me feel that I have a responsibility to raise my voice and say: Please World WAKE UP! Gazan youth have abilities and skills and they have the right to improve themselves like any youth in the World! We just need the opportunity!”

Share

The tunnels in Gaza

Amal Sabawi. 2:22 minutes. Insight you don’t hear on the news.

Amal W. Sabawi has more than 15 years of development experience with International Organizations. Sabawi is currently the Director of Palestine Youth Program in Gaza, which is supported by American Friends Service Committee AFSC based in US. She has an MA in Public Health, with a concentration on health management from Al Quds University in Abu Dies and a postgraduate certificate in Conflict Resolution Skills from Coventry University in UK.

Sabawi’s areas of interest include youth civic engagement, community development, conflict transformation and nonviolence and humanitarian work. Before working with AFSC, Sabawi worked for different organizations including Save the Children US, UNDP, and UNRWA.

Sabawi is also a renowned trainer in conflict transformation, youth civic engagement, advocacy and community mobilization and community participation. She also participated in a number of researches and assessments on youth needs, women needs and health education programs.

Please post comments and questions!

Share

A Gazan in Ramallah with Hekmat Besisso

7 worthwhile minutes

A Muslim Palestinian originally from Gaza, Ms. Besisso, 44, currently lives in Ramallah. Her parents came from well-known families who became refugees after the 48-49 war. Her grandfather often remarked that he felt sorry his grandchildren were raised poor while he had land, home and a business before the war. She is an only child and, as such, it was her parents’ dream that she marry and have a family; so she married at 17 and raised 6 children. They range from 26 to 8 years old.

She believes it is important to work hard to improve herself and her society. Ms. Besisso has worked for several international and local organizations including: American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Save the Children USA, Defense for Children International, the Jerusalem Media Communication Center, and others. After earning diplomas from Al Azhar University and Kann’an Educational Development Institute in Gaza, she is working on a B.A. in Social Work from Al Quds Open University. She also earned a technical training certificate in Field Research and Project Coordination from the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.

Ms. Besisso has spoken to audiences in the U.S. and Europe through Peace x Peace and Joining Hands Against Hunger (a Presbyterian Church initiative). She currently works as Freelance Community Trainer and advocacy activist where her main task is to organize, carry out, train, and evaluate nonviolence training and other advocacy projects. She is also the founder of Women for Justice.

Share