Volunteering at Refugee Camps in Jordan

Author: Katherine Latham

Date: September, 2016

Last spring, I found myself facing several hurdles, and trying to get established with volunteer projects in Amman Jordan, having been turned away at the Allenby Bridge crossing into the West Bank by the Israeli authorities.  While it was a big disappointment to have my passport stamped “denied entry” plus a big red line drawn across the page designating very clearly that there was absolutely no welcome mat for me, I gradually got my bearings, found my way, and even found myself smiling time and again when I was greeted by the national mantra, “Welcome to Jordan.”

My journey last year had been backed by a solid invitation to do health care rehabilitation and trainings in Palestine. I felt much more prepared for my role in this work, than I had 25 years earlier, during the first Intifada, when I first volunteered in a Palestinian village health clinic.  Over the years, my clinical skills had improved, as had my appreciation for the struggles, the ever increasing squeezing of the Palestinian people, and how the military occupation severely affected the health status of the people.

jordans-finest

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The Gaza Blockade is Causing an End to Gaza’s Fresh Water

Author: International Solidarity Movement, Gaza Team

Date: August 7, 2016

As every year during the summer, the water shortage in the Gaza Strip is accentuated. At the same time, the energy shortage caused by the blockade prevents engines and water pumps from pushing it from wells and tanks to houses and farming fields.

The Beach Camp is one of the more densely populated areas of Gaza and therefore one of the most affected by water scarcity. In addition, because of its location, directly on the seafront, its aquifers are some of the most affected by the infiltration of seawater and wastewater.

We collected several testimonies of people affected by this problem in order to discuss them with the engineer Monther Shoblak, General Director of the Palestinian National Authority Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU).

in my home and in the homes of my four sons and their families we don’t have a drop of water

The first testimony is that of Azzam Miflah El Sheikh Khalil, who says “the water comes only once every three days, and just for a few hours, which is not enough [to fill the tanks]. People can’t imagine how we are suffering because of the lack of water. In addition, there is no difference between the water from our wells and the sea water… The main problem is that when there is electricity there’s no running water and when there is running water there’s no electricity . The only solution we have is to buy a generator to produce electricity when there’s water, but who can buy it if there is no work?”

azzam-el-sheikh-khalil-big

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Solidarity Movement for Free Palestine Work in Lebanon

Author: Katie Leslie

Date: October 2016

 

[In late 2013, some of the Palestinian leadership of ISM in Palestine created their own nonviolent resistance organization on the same model, calling it the Solidarity Movement for Free Palestine (SFP). We at NorCal ISM decided to support both groups, which we have been doing ever since.  The Israeli government came down hard on the new group, so a lot of our support in Palestine has consisted of paying fines and legal help for imprisoned leaders.  But this is not the only support that we have given, as you will see below.]

In early June an international volunteer of the SFP visited the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon to show solidarity with the refugees of Palestine. The visit included touring the medical facilities built and run by the Palestinian population of the camps and learning about the vital role they have played in securing dignity for the residents during their exile, awaiting their return home to Palestine. 

With help from NorCal ISM, SFP provided funds over the summer to the Nahr al-Bared maternity hospital project

Home to nearly 750,000 Palestinians, victims of the 1948 Nakba (‘Catastrophe’ in English) and their descendants, the tragedy but steadfastness of the Palestinian people of the Lebanese refugee camps endures. Nahr al-Bared camp exemplifies this more than many. Home to over 30,000 Palestinian refugees it was the scene of one of the latest examples of the continuing Nakba Palestinian refugees face in Lebanon.

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How an ISM Member Cheated Death

Author: Paul Larudee

Date: October 17, 2016

 

Julie Rufo’s last Facebook post (on the war in Syria) was probably minutes before she almost died on September 2, 2016.

I first met Julie at a talk I gave on the successful boat trips to Gaza, in late 2008. She told me that she would like to help, and that, as a retired person, she couldn’t offer much financially, but could make a gift of her talent as a professional bookkeeper. 

That was the beginning of a friendship, as well as an invaluable resource for the small but ambitious nonprofit corporation that sponsors the International Solidarity Movement and a number of other human rights projects concerned with the Middle East and Cuba. With as many as fourteen separate bank accounts, it’s quite a job, but Julie is definitely up to it.  She has kept the books for major entertainers, and makes it look easy.

Weeks later, Julie described what happened that September 2nd.

julie-ruffo

photo credit: Joseph Woodard Multimedia

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North America Nakba Tour

Author: Norcal ISM Editor

Date: April 2016

Amena and Mariam

Amena and Mariam

Photo Credit: Samir Salem

We are strong in spirit and we know that justice is on our side. We believe that our exile will end if we do not give up.

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From a Stateless Palestinian Refugee to Signers of the “Leahy letter” in the US Congress

Date: April 2016

Mariam cooking while on tour

Umm_Akram_cooking1
The following letter is from 86-year- old Mariam Fathalla, a stateless Palestinian from a refugee camps in Lebanon. It is addressed to the eleven Congressional signers of the “Leahy letter”, asking secretary of State John Kerry to report on Israeli and Egyptian violations of human rights. Mariam personally took the letter
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Tree Planting and Protest in Beit al-Baraka

Author: International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil Team

Date: April 2016

Palestinians fear is that the entire Gush Etzion junction will be closed to Palestinians, permanently closing the road between Hebron and Behlehem for them.

Villagers Protesting on their Land

TreePlanting2
Photo Credit: ISM
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