Our event on Thursday was a lovely success, even though the crowd was cut in half by a huge Palestine-related event scheduled on the same night. A couple of particularly generous donors put us well in the black, and the people who made it to the event were mesmerized by Mali’s exquisite and soulful performance. Many thanks to Mali, Gary, Fadi, Danielle, Saj, Ravi, Debbie, and Nafis.

In other fantastic news, after nearly a year, Rania’s husband is finally out of prison! (You can read the story of his brutal arrest by Israeli soldiers here.) He was let out a month early for good behavior. The poor guy is a mess after a year in often terrible conditions, but he’s so happy to be home with his family (and as a bonus, like most Palestinian prisoners, he learned Hebrew in prison and can now read, write, and speak it).

Unfortunately, he’s saddled with lawyers’ fees (more than $1,000) as well as having to finish building his home before his brother-in-law comes back to Palestine in less than a year. (The family is staying at his house until they finish theirs.) They need about $3,000 to finish the house, but with the economy being what it is, he’ll be lucky if he can find a job that pays $300 a month — barely enough to survive.

Rania, who has a college degree, has higher earnings potential than her husband, but she needs training and connections to get a good job in her chosen field of psychological counseling. A Christian organization has offered both for $100 a month for a year (the fee is actually less, but this includes travel and child care), after which there’s a good chance she can get a great job and provide well for her family. Her husband is a good father and supportive husband and would be thrilled for this.

But again, it will be impossible if her husband is only making $300 a month, which makes our fundraising as important as ever. Anyone who didn’t make it to the performance but would like to help out can Paypal donations to pamolson02 (a) yahoo or contact me to find out where to mail a check.

Rania's new baby girl, healthy and sweet

By the way, in case it’s not clear, the Rania we’re raising money for is the same Rania introduced in my book, Fast Times in Palestine, in Chapter 2. We’ve been friends for seven years now.

Below is another excerpt, the first part of Chapter 3, in which you can get to know Rania a little better.