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NEWS Fall 2018

Thirty Years and Change
From Barbara Lubin, Founder and Director Emeritus
MECA marked the our 30th Anniversary with a big event
in June and some big changes in leadership. I am stepping back
from the day-to-day work of managing the organization and my
colleague and dear friend Zeiad Abbas Shamrouch is MECA’s
new Executive Director. Children throughout the Middle East
are still suffering a great deal but when I look back over the last
three decades we have lot to be proud of. MECA has changed
countless young lives for the better.
Since our founding we have delivered more than $25 million
worth of food, medicine, and other vital aid. We have supported
medical clinics, community centers, early childhood develop- Zeiad Abbas Shamrouch
ment centers, and playgrounds. We’ve built water purification
and desalination systems in schools in refugee camps in Gaza, furious every day about what’s happening to children in the Mid-
provided college scholarships, and we have launched a new proj- dle East, the U.S., and around the world. I’m not going to stop
ect called “Gaza Lights” bringing electricity to families in their being angry and I’m not going to stop wanting to do something
homes. During the Gulf War we broke the illegal U.S. sanctions to make children’s lives better. I know that Zeiad, the rest of the
and delivered medical supplies to Iraqi children. We have sup- MECA staff, and our supporters feel the same.
plied aid to children in the refugee camps of Lebanon, first Pal-
estinian and now Syrian. This has only been possible because of
the generous support of each of you. From Zeiad Abbas Shamrouch, Executive Director
Zeiad has been an integral part of MECA since the very be-
ginning. I met him on my first trip to Palestine in 1988 when he I met Barbara in Dheisheh Refugee Camp, where I grew
was working as a journalist, amplifying the voices of Palestinian up, in 1988. After that, each time she brought a MECA delega-
refugees in the Palestinian, Israeli, and international press. At the tion from the United States to Palestine, I would host them in
same time, he was organizing youth in Dheisheh Refugee Camp Dheisheh—talking to them about the history and human rights of
(Bethlehem) where he grew up—educating them about their Palestinian refugees and introducing them to people in the camp
traditional culture, history, and rights and giving them opportu- who shared their lives, hopes, and dreams.
nities to express themselves through dance, music, sports, and In 1989, MECA supported a community-run clinic and a cul-
other activities that they had been deprived of. In 1994, Zeiad tural organization, IBDAA, in Dheisheh that was run by local ac-
founded the Ibdaa dance troupe in Dheisheh. Together, he and tivists. Other international funders preferred to work with large,
I brought the young dancers to the U.S. for three national tours established NGOs rather than grassroots community organiza-
where they told their stories and raised funds for their commu- tions. Already I could tell that MECA was different.
nity. Later Zeiad founded sports teams, including the first girls’ Barbara and I developed a strong friendship. We shared a
team in a Palestinian refugee camp. In everything Zeiad took passionate commitment to children, especially those who are
on he pushed young people to their potential, pushed for social refugees; to centering the work around Palestinians’ right of re-
change, and nurtured new leadership. Since he came to MECA in turn; and to supporting local leadership in marginalized commu-
2007, he has shown that same leadership in media and speaking nities—in Palestine and around the world.
appearances; initiating the “Teach Palestine” program to provide It is a huge challenge to step into Barbara’s shoes. I am lucky
information, support, and resources to educators and students; to have a strong MECA team in the United States and in Pales-
organizing support for Palestinian rights; and his insight into tine, and a huge network of volunteers, friends, and allies.
what are the most important projects for MECA to support on No matter who has the title of director, the leadership of
the ground in Palestine and Lebanon. our work will always come from our partners fighting for social
Although I am retiring as executive director, I‘m not leaving justice on the ground. We work in solidarity with them, lifting
MECA. There’s plenty to keep me busy. But I’m definitely ready up their work and bringing their voices to people in the United
to work and travel less. Still, that doesn’t stop me from getting States.
Aid & Project Updates
Medical Aid for Refugees
MECA’s shipment of medical supplies valued at one mil-
lion dollars has arrived in Lebanon. It contains specific items
community clinics and pharmacies requested for the growing
population of refugees from Syria, including medicines for kid-
ney disease, diabetes and bleeding, airway tubes, bandages, IV
fluids, syringes, antiseptics. MECA’s partner organizations also
distributed hygiene kits to refugee families.

Rights and Heritage in East Jerusalem

More than 1,500 children from the besieged neighbor-
hoods of East Jerusalem learned about their cultural heritage
and rights through classroom speakers, interactive games,
and field trips to the Old City and to destroyed Palestinian

Girls’ Sports in Gaza

This pilot project in Gaza provided girls
with coaches, uniforms, and equipment for
running, soccer and cycling, along with
workshops on physical and psychological
health, and healthy snacks. Many thanks to
hundreds of participants of The Big Ride
for Palestine in the UK for raising funds for
this project.

Since a very young age, 6 or so, I had a deep passion of riding a bike but
I never knew how to. The first time I rode the bike was in the MECA project.
The trainer held my hand and helped me through it. I loved that. When I
ride, I feel like I’m flying and no one can stop me!
— Inas, age 14

Samira Project:
Education and Psychological Support
Specially trained teachers and psychologists work with children in Rafah and now
Khan Younis who are struggling in school because of learning disabilities, psycholog-
ical distress or physical illness. Thanks to the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and
the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice for raising and contributing funds.

Gaza Lights
The village of Khuza’a in Gaza has been
devastated by poverty and the 2014 Israeli
bombing. MECA installed solar panels to
power our rechargeable systems that pro-
vide lights, a fan, and a phone charger for
nearly 200 families that are not connected to
the electricity network at all. Many thanks to
Santa Fe Friends of Khuza’a.

Chilean Musicians Visit Palestine
In April, Duamuxa, a duo of Chilean musicians living in the
U.S., went to Palestine to perform, collaborate with Palestinian
musicians, and conduct musical workshops with children in ref-
ugee camps.
Duamuxa was invited to perform at the “Cultural Festival in
Nablus” and nearby refugee camps. They conducted workshops
at the Edward Said Music Conservatory, Habib Al Deek’s music
school, and MECA’s partner organization Shoruq in Dheisheh
Refugee Camp. The duo and the children recorded a song by Du-
amuxa for the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, inspired by the po-
etry of Latin America and Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.
Many thanks to Francine Kuipers for organizing the tour and
to all those who raised and donated funds. Duamuxa hopes to go and Jody Sokolower facilitated “Borders and Walls: Stories that
back next year for a longer visit. Connect Us to Palestine” at the 8th annual conference of the
New York Collective of Radical Educators.
Then Zeiad and Jody headed to New England, where
they facilitated three more workshops on teaching Palestine for
faculty, students, activists, teachers, and teacher educators.
While in New England, Zeiad visited classrooms in Ver-
mont to share his story and talk about Palestinian children. He
also participated in a number of panels and was interviewed on
the radio and local TV. Nicole Awwad, a Vermont teacher, put
untold hours into arranging the trip and handling the logistics.
In April, Jody and Palestinian-American educator Samia
Shoman traveled to British Columbia, to facilitate workshops on
teaching Palestine at “Reclaiming Common Ground: A Cross
Border Social Justice Conference” sponsored by the Surrey
Teachers’ Union.

Teach Palestine Project on the Move

It was a busy spring for MECA’s Teach Palestine Project,
which supports K-12 teachers and teacher-educators with cur-
riculum, resources, and advice about bringing Palestine into
their classrooms. MECA staff members Zeiad Abbas Shamrouch

Noam Chomsky kicked off MECA’s 30th Anniver-
sary in March, addressing the question, “Whither
Volunteer Corner:
Palestine” to a sold-out crowd at Oakland Tech- Izumi Van Cleave
nical High School.

The good news is that MECA

is alive and well and is
continuing to do marvelous
work it’s been doing for
thirty years under Barbara’s
remarkable leadership. And
there are real prospects
for progress [in Palestine]
though they’re often
obscured by prevailing and
understandable gloom.
I first read about Palestine in 1992 when the First Gulf War
– Noam Chomsky was going on. I was outraged at the ongoing injustice and wanted
to do something. But in the small town outside of Tokyo where I
was living there were no resources or activism.
Over ten years passed and Palestine was still haunting me as
I was raising two little children in the Bay Area. Then I found
MECA online. This organization had been consistently working
for Palestinian human rights and I wanted to do something to
help out. One day I was at a Berkeley church where Dahr Ja-
mail and Dennis Bernstein were speaking on the Iraq War. In
the intermission I came up to a young woman attending the busy
MECA table and told her that I was willing to volunteer. Al-
though she smiled sweetly and took my phone number, I didn’t
think she would call me. My phone number might not even make
it to the office. But I was wrong. Two days later I was surprised
and thrilled by a call from her. This young woman was Josie
(Josie Shields-Stromsness, MECA Program Director) and that
was my first day as a volunteer for MECA.
The small MECA office on Parker street was always quiet.
Every time when I sat there getting the newsletters ready to
mail out, I was wondering where the energy to produce amazing
events like “People’s History of the United States” was hiding.
Another ten years passed since then. Those ten years were
incredibly difficult years for Palestine and the Middle East in
general. Palestine needed MECA so MECA has worked tire-
lessly and grown bigger and stronger. However, one thing that
never changed is that MECA’s work has always started from and
focused on the people’s (especially children’s) suffering on the
ground. That is why I trust MECA so much and never want to
miss volunteer opportunities.
30th Anniversary
Celebration and Tribute
to Barbara Lubin
On June 4, 2018, a sold-out crowd of nearly 500 people
packed the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley
to see old friends, eat, drink, and listen to music, poetry,
beautiful recollections, and moving tributes to Barbara
and the three activists who were honored with the First
Annual Barbara Lubin Hellraiser Award.

Alice Walker read three beautiful poems

including “The Slain Children of Palestine
Hold Council in Paradise.”

Melanie DeMore, Holly Near, and Tammy Hall brought the

crowd to their feet with their energetic and beautiful music.

Ali Abunimah, founder and director of the

Electronic Intifada was the evening’s delightful
emcee, moving the program along with humor
and style. “I see here tonight many of you I
know have supported MECA from the begin-
ning and it’s incredible to see so many young
volunteers who are just getting involved.”
Barbara Lubin presented the First Annual
Barbara Lubin Hellraiser Ward to three
leading Bay Area activists: Lara Kiswani,
Director of AROC, Reem Assil, restauran-
teur, and Professor Rabab Abdulhadi.

Additional tributes to MECA and Barbara were made by im-

migration attorney Mark Van der Hout, writer and professor Hil-
ton Obenzinger, MECA Board Member and member of the LA 8
Michel Shehadeh, former Berkeley Mayor Gus Newport, Ahmad
Jabr, and other friends and family.
Angela Davis recalled her first encounters with MECA and
talked about how Palestine is a central part of the global
struggle against racism. “MECA has not only delivered an
incredible amount of material support, it has also led the
way in the development of a broader and deeper con-
sciousness regarding justice in Palestine.”

MECA has been enor-
mously fortunate to
have had the labor, tal-
ent and dedication of
artist Jos Sances since
our early years. Jos is a
renowned artist, print-
maker and graphic de-
signer. He was key to
the establishment of Al-
liance Graphics, MECA’s
screen-printing business that supports
our work. Jos has designed MECA’s
mailings, newsletters, annual reports,
and posters for hundreds of events and
political actions. Below is a sample of
the stunning posters he created to help
us raise our voices for nearly thirty years.

Yes, I want to help MECA protect the health, lives, and rights of
Palestinian children and refugees from Syria.
Here is my tax-deductible contribution of:

[ ] $250 [ ] $100 [ ] $50 [ ] $25 [ ] $ ____________

[ ] I would like to make this a monthly contribution.

Please enclose a check or fill out the credit card form below.

Card Number: __________________________________ Expiration: ______/_____

Signature: ______________________________________ Security code__________

Email: _________________________________________

Name: _________________________________________

Address: _______________________________________

City_____________________ ST,___________ Zip:______________


To make a donation online, go to:

MECA is a 501(c)3 exempt organization. Your gift is tax-deductible as a charitable contribution.
Fall 2018

Beautiful Palestinian Crafts

Coming Up in December:
MECA and Joining Hands
Annual Palestinian Holiday
Craft Bazaar
– Dates to be announced

w ca fo rpea ce.o r g • w w w. s h o p p a l e sti n e . or g