I am 71 years old and I have four wonderful children and seven loving grandchildren. In 1969, my third child, Charlie, was born with Down Syndrome and I was devastated. The doctors, social workers and the rabbi at the hospital advised us to place Charlie in an institution.
Sitting on my desk are some rubber-coated bullets and two tear gas canisters. They are souvenirs from my first trip to Palestine 25 years ago and for me they remain constant, powerful symbols of why on May 1, 1988 Howard Levine and I founded the Middle East Children’s Alliance.
It’s possible, I think, to look at all the work we do through the lens of these two items:
MECA is supporting a fantastic new project in Masara Village just outside of Bethlehem. I just came back from a visit this morning and am so inspired by the women who get up every morning at 5am to make healthy food for the 400 children attending the villages schools and kindergarten.
For 112 years, the Jewish National Fund has played a central role in the on-going displacement and dispossession of Palestinians from their land and homes. The JNF was instrumental in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 and continues to play a central role in maintaining Israel's regime of apartheid. The JNF controls vast properties belonging to millions of Palestinians, developing them exclusively for persons of “Jewish nationality,” a concept established and promoted in the JNF’s charter to exclude all others.
On November 23, with the help of MECA volunteers in Gaza, I managed to collect 40 water samples from locations all over Gaza. We were sleep deprived and traumatized from the eight days and nights of Israeli shelling but knew this was an important task so we got it done.
So much emphasis is placed on food and medicine in times of crisis, which is obviously needed and important. But the most important medicine we can give the children of Gaza is to help them understand their pain and move forward so they can have healthy and happy lives. This medicine does not come from taking a pill. It comes from committed professionals, like these amazing women here in Gaza. They are psychologists, social workers, teachers and art therapists, who spend each day healing the wounds of war.
1:30 pm - Gaza - I am not sure if it is Wednesday or Tuesday
I cannot forget the shivering of lovely Sara Ameen in my arms last night. The successive explosions went on and on, so loud and terrifying. The child was crying and I had to calm her down. My own daughter was so tense as well.
Yesterday evening, I was thrilled by the news that there was going to be a ceasefire. I was daydreaming of a quiet, restful night and making plans for the work ahead to help children and women heal from this week of terror.
1101 8th Street, Suite 100, Berkeley, CA 94710
Tel: 510-548-0542 • Fax: 510-548-0543 • firstname.lastname@example.org
The Middle East Children's Alliance is a registered 501c3 non profit,
non governmental organization.