Many people have asked me how Rania and her family have been doing this year. (Here’s the backstory on Rania, if you’re unfamiliar with it.)
Thanks to your generosity, she was able to finish her house, so the family no longer has to fear homelessness. I can’t describe what a joy it is for them. Having a home, a space of privacy and dignity, is priceless for a Palestinian family. Your help has been a powerful answer to the Israeli policy of demolishing Palestinian homes.
Meanwhile Rania has continued and intensified her social work in Tulkarem. Her big project for the summer was organizing a summer camp for children, especially kids from refugee camps. But there was a twist: She also invited their mothers to some of the activities, including picnics and a day of playing in an amusement park.
Rania said they were amazed, because it was the first time anyone had included them in something like that. They were also given free counseling sessions, and many said it was the first time anyone had allowed them to express their feelings and cry.
Mothers in Palestine have to keep the family together more than anyone. The society would quickly collapse without their strength. But there’s little space for them to break down or show emotion. They can do so at funerals, but death is only the tip of the iceberg of what occupation means for Palestinian families. Day to day they feel they have to remain composed, even when their heart is breaking. Rania said she would do what she could to continue providing these services to the people who need them.
Activities for the kids included counseling, art, drama, playing, swimming, and education about human rights and international law.
One ten-year-old boy came up to her after a workshop on human rights and said angrily, “You give us exercises and let us play, and you say nice words about international law, but we still don’t have human rights. You should be honest about this.”
Kids aren’t stupid. They know what they see.
She was taken aback, but she said, “I understand, I feel with your anger. God willing, one day we will have human rights.”
It’s a terrible thing to have to say to a ten-year-old. But it’s good to give them forums in which they can learn what they’re missing and vent about their pent-up feelings, so that hopefully one day they will be more effective in the struggle to implement their rights.
Rania is still trying, of course, to find paid employment or secure funding for her organization, and she came close once. She was considered for a position doing what she loves to do, and being paid fairly for it. But in the end they chose someone with a couple more years’ experience than she had. She was incredibly disappointed, but it shows she’s on the right track.
It also shows what a failure the Palestinian Authority is, spending its limited, donated money on speculative building in Ramallah and “security” forces while Israel continues to build settlements and exploit Palestinian resources while squeezing the natural Palestinian economy almost into nonexistence, and settlers continue to desecrate mosques and churches and attack innocent Palestinians with almost total impunity.
The last time I wrote to you about Rania was in November. I requested a lot from you then. $950 to break even in 2011 and $4,000 to finish building her house. Astonishingly, I received all of that plus enough to continue supporting the family through August 2012.
It’s September 2012 now, and I’ve sent the family $300 for this month as my contribution. I’m aiming to continue funding her for another year. It doesn’t take a lot. Just a bit over $3,000. If just 300 people could be so generous as to donate $10 each, we’ll be covered until next September.
As always, a gift of support is not just helping Rania. It’s also helping her beautiful children (one of whom is starting school this year!) and the dozens — probably hundreds by now — of people Rania helps with her work. It’s an investment that is guaranteed to grow many times over. You can’t say that about many investments these days. Even gifts of $5 add up quickly and are immensely appreciated.
Here are the various ways to donate:
• My Paypal email is email@example.com
• I can send you an invoice via Paypal, which you can pay with any major credit card
• Email me for details about how to send a check (pamolson @ gmail)
• If you’d prefer to send the money directly to her via Western Union, I can send instructions how to do it — it’s very easy
Thank you a thousand times for reading, and for any help you can give, and for everything you’ve done already. I couldn’t have done it alone, but together we’ve done something amazing for two smart and funny kids and all the people helped by one extraordinary Palestinian woman.
Fundraising and donating aren’t nearly as hard as raising two kids while trying to be a rock for a society under brutal, strangling occupation. But the one makes the other possible, and it’s an honor to be a small part of it.
Thank you and all my best!
P.S. As for me, I just got back from my little sister’s wedding in San Jose, which was a lot of fun. Meanwhile the book has been edited down to 96,000 words (from 120,000), and for the most part I’m happy with the cuts. It will mean a lighter, less-expensive book, and anyone who has interest will be able go to my blog and read the omitted parts. We’re still working on the cover design, and if you want to see a few mock-ups I threw together using an image my publisher and I both like, you can see them here.
UPDATE: School pics!