The Middle East Children’s Alliance Administers five scholarship programs for Palestinian university students in the West Bank and Gaza.

The Katrina and Beatrice Halaby Scholarship for Palestinian Women set up by Dr. &  Mrs. Raouf J. Halaby provides higher education opportunities for Palestinian women (of all ages) from the Occupied West Bank or Gaza Strip.

The Elly Jaensch Memorial Scholarship Fund awards scholarships based on financial need, prior academic achievement, and commitment to giving back to one’s community. Priority is given to prior recipients, women, and refugees.

The Mary Bisharat Memorial Scholarship is supported by the SacramentoBethlehem Sister City, an all volunteer organization of Sacramento area residents.  Their interest is developing connections and friendships with the people of Bethlehem. The scholarships are provided to Bethlehem-area residents to study at local universities in diverse disciplines.

The Tree of Life Scholarship Fund awards scholarships based on financial need and prior academic achievement to students living in the Gaza Strip.

The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) originally established the Ramzy Halaby Education Fund to bring students from Palestinian refugee camps to pursue undergraduate studies free from the obstacles of occupation. Two students graduated from the University of California in 2008, a third student graduated from New York Film Academy in 2008. And in December 2009 the two remaining students graduated from San Francisco State University and the University of New Mexico-Albuquerque. The Fund now provides scholarships for students at Palestinian universities.

Elly Jaensch (1913 – 1988)
By Brigitte Jaensch

For Elly Jaensch news headlines were not something abstract or impersonal. She understood suffering, be it in Eritrea, Biafra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Honduras, Timor, Chile, etc. She and the people in the headlines were the same; different war, same plight. She was well acquainted with what to most of us are just words: refugee, bombing raids, flee, hyper-inflation, hunger and thirst, privation, occupation. Twice she had to flee, leaving behind all earthly possessions, and was never allowed to return.

As years and decades passed, she was particularly distressed by the injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people. Made refugees again and again by the wars and aggression of others, not only was their condition made ever worse, but to talk honestly about their suffering was disallowed.

A staunch advocate of human and civil rights, this educated woman loved Voltaire, Goethe, Rilke, Chopin, Schumann, Bach and Debussy, played the piano wonderfully well, and read publications like The Economist and those superb in-depth articles that The Christian Science Monitor used to do so well. And she dared to speak out on behalf of the Palestinians and others.

The Elly Jaensch Memorial Scholarships are awarded to Palestinians living and studying in the West Bank or Gaza. The scholarships are made possible through the generous support of Brigitte Jaensch.

MECA Education Fund Named to Honor Ramzy Halaby
By Katrina Halaby and Mona Halaby

All us who knew Ramzy Halaby even a little greatly miss his tremendous warmth and humor. Ramzy died suddenly on November 7, 2005, and soon after Middle East Children’s Alliance decided to change the name the Palestinian Refugees Higher Education Fund to the Ramzy Halaby Education Fund. This wonderful man was very dedicated to his homeland and to the education of a new generation of Palestinians.

Ramzy was born to Jamil and Katrina Halaby, in Jerusalem, Palestine, on November 22, 1945. He grew up with his sister, Beatrice and brothers, Tanas, David and his twin, Raouf. At the age of two, he lost his father to a heart attack. Ramzy always respected and admired his mother, Katrina, for her courage in the face of adversity and for raising five children without her husband. He remained in Jerusalem after the 1948 war. In 1959 he moved to Beirut, Lebanon with his mother and twin brother to join the rest of the family, who had preceded him.

Ramzy came to North Carolina in 1964 to begin his college education. At Ramzy’s memorial service, his daughter Katrina repeated one of his many colorful stories explaining how he ended up in the southern U.S.:

A lost Beirut cab driver stopped to ask Dad if he knew where a certain Baptist Church was. Dad led the taxi driver and his passengers to church, then invited the Baptist missionaries over for coffee after the service. During coffee, when asked what plans he had for his future; Dad told the visitors he wanted to move to the US to obtain a college education. Coincidently the group of visitors included a vice president of a junior college – Gardner Wedd University in North Carolina. The visitors were so moved by Dad’s plans and dreams that that afternoon the group collected enough money for his first year of college.

Ramzy later earned a scholarship and worked hard part-time while attending Gardner Webb College. He joined his brother David and cousin John at Texas A & I in Kingsville where he graduated with a degree in civil engineering. Eventually, Ramzy joined his father-in-law Fernando Halaby in the custom cabinet business. For thirty years he was a partner with his late brother David at Custom Woodworks & Manufacturing in San Carlos.

Just as he had received the help of strangers to pursue his education, Ramzy in turn generously gave his financial and emotional support to young Palestinian students from Dheisheh refugee camp, who MECA brought to the U.S. to attend college.

A proud Palestinian-American, he lived in Redwood City for over 29 years with his wife Miranda and their children Katrina and Tarek. Because they lost their home as children, Ramzy and Miranda valued creating a home for their family. Ramzy exuded warmth and friendship to everyone he met. His home was always open to family and friends, where he entertained everyone with his stories about his childhood in Palestine, as well as his adventures as a Palestinian college student in North Carolina and Texas.

Nearly 100 people gave to MECA’s education fund for Palestinian Refugees in memory of Ramzy – a testament to how well-loved he was, how dearly he will be missed, and how avidly he communicated his values to all who knew him. The Middle East Children’s Alliance extends our gratitude and condolences to the family and friends of Ramzy Halaby.