You are on page 1of 12

Middle East Children’s Alliance

2019 Annual Report

ganizations, along with our highly skilled and dedicated staff—including a
Dear Friend of MECA, medical doctor, water engineer, and nutritionist in Gaza; and our program
director in the West Bank—will do everything in our power to protect the
As I look back at 2019, it seems like a very health and lives of the communities that rely on us for solidarity.
long time ago. So much has changed in just As you look through this Annual Report, I hope you see your place in the
a few months. The Covid-19 pandemic has MECA community, that stretches across borders and includes supporters,
exposed injustice and inequality all over the activists, and all the people in Palestine and Lebanon who struggle every
world, and those with the least power and day to meet children’s needs. While we provide food, medicine, hygiene and
the fewest resources are suffering the most. disinfectant supplies, we also provide a powerful message of solidarity and
But even before Covid-19, what many of us a commitment to a better future.
think of as “normal lives” were out of reach As my mom used to say, we have each other.
for people living under siege and occupation in Palestine and for refugees
from Syria, who have lost everything. In solidarity,
Growing up in a Palestinian refugee camp, a child of the Nakba genera-
tion, I remember when “normal” was the trauma of displacement, the hu-
miliation of lining up for UN rations, and the violence of Israeli military in-
cursions. I learned early on that the one thing we needed to survive was the Zeiad Abbas Shamrouch
mutual support of our community. Executive Director
Dr. Mona El-Farra, MECA Director of Gaza Projects, calls this “social sol-
idarity” and often talks about how strong it is in Gaza, where individuals
and businesses are eager to offer what they have to support MECA’s efforts. The Middle East Children’s Alliance
Social solidarity is what guides the work of MECA staff and partner organi- Board of Directors
zations. For example, your support made these advances possible in 2019:
Eugene “Gus” Newport • Sherry Gendelman • Howard Levine
• In Gaza, five new Maia Project units brought clean water to another Osha Neumann • Jos Sances • Michel Shehadeh
10,000 schoolchildren; two branches of the new Edward Said Public
Library opened with books in Arabic and English; and 716 families
got solar or rechargeable electricity systems. Zeiad Abbas Shamrouch, Executive Director
• In Lebanon, nearly 1,000 refugee families from Syria got heating Waed Abbas, Palestine Projects Assistant
fuel and food parcels, while their daughters learned to play basket Deborah Agre, Development Director
ball and be part of a team. Wafaa El Derawi, Gaza Project Assistant
• Throughout the West Bank, Gaza and Syrian refugee camps in Dr. Mona El-Farra, Director of Gaza Projects
Lebanon, thousands of children got to tell their stories through art, Nancy Ippolito, Finance Director
dance, video, music, and writing. Barbara Lubin, Founder and Director Emeritus
Ghada Mansi, Maia Project Coordinator
Next year, MECA’s Annual Report will probably be very different from Patrick O’Neill, Bookkeeper and Administrative Coordinator
this one. As staff and partners, we have shifted our efforts to halting a ca- Penny Rosenwasser, Special Events Coordinator
tastrophe among people who live in overcrowded conditions, with shat- Josie Shields-Stromsness, Program Director
tered healthcare systems and limited access to even soap and water. Jody Sokolower, Coordinator of the Teach Palestine Project
This global pandemic presents daunting challenges. MECA’s partner or- Susan, Office Manager
Nawal Tamimi, Volunteer Coordinator
Kindergarteners who got daily nutritious meals
in Gaza: 370
Projects for Children
Girls learning sports and life skills in Gaza and
Lebanon: 340 Community initiatives to meet children’s needs have always been the heart
of MECA’s work. In 2019 we worked with 16 partner organizations primar-
Summer camps: 8 ily in refugee camps in Palestine and Lebanon to bring academic and psy-
chological support, as well as arts activities, sports, media training, healthy
New playgrounds built in Palestine: 1 meals, books, and more for hundreds of children and families.
Grassroots partner organizations
in Palestine and Lebanon: 16
I still remember the smiles of the children in last year’s
summer camps. I still turn on the videos of their perfor-
mances whenever I need to be full of energy. Really, we
achieve the children’s simple dreams of playing, running,
dancing, and drawing through MECA’s summer camps.
—Wafaa El-Derawi, Gaza Projects Assistant

MECA staff in Gaza initiated a project to address the nutrition needs of chil-
dren. Women in the community buy fresh, healthy ingredients from local
farmers and stores to make snacks and lunches for the children each day,
while they earn some much-needed income.

It is hot and delicious, I love the chicken, rice, and salads.

Each week I eat fruits like bananas and apples .
I love the fruits!
—Obeida, kindergarten student
Projects for Children
MECA’s partner in Baalbeck, Lebanon combines basketball training with ed-

CREDIT: The Freedom Theatre

ucation about psychological and physical health for seven- to thirteen-year
old girls—Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Lebanon. MECA supports a
similar project in Gaza.

I feel cheerful when I play, like I have the whole world

in my hands when I catch the ball. But I am very
sad because we are not allowed to play freely in the
Lebanese society except at Al-Jalil Association.
Fairuz wants to give her mother a gift on Mother’s Day, which
—Maysalon Amjad Moussa, age 13, a “double refugee” from
she does not show anyone in order to surprise her mother.
Yarmouk Palestinian Camp in Syria, now living in Lebanon.
Fairuz’ Secret, a puppet show for kids is one of The Freedom
Theatre’s six productions in 2019, originating at the Theatre’s
home in Jenin Refugee Camp. MECA is the fiscal sponsor for the
Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre (USA), which has been a
volunteer organization dedicated to supporting the projects of
The Freedom Theatre.

We call our children’s project ‘Learning and Free-

dom.’ These are not just words. They are the ba-
sis of our struggle. There is no freedom without
knowledge. There is no peace without freedom.
Peace and freedom are bound together. Bound
—Arna Mer Khamis, who began the work that
became The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp,
University scholarships for students in Palestine: 113
Schools for refugees in Lebanon: 2
Libraries opened or supported in Palestine: 3
Backpacks with school supplies for kids in Gaza: 1,092

Education is a top priority for Palestinian and Syrian refugees everywhere

in the world. But in Palestine and Lebanon discrimination, military orders,
and local laws, the destruction of school buildings, cuts in UN funding, dev-
astating economic conditions, and the siege of Gaza have made everything
from preschool to medical training out of reach for most refugee children
and young people. MECA’s partner organizations fill the need with commu-
nity schools, libraries, university scholarships, after-school programs, arts,
media and computer classes.

MECA partners in Lebanon have created unofficial schools

where refugee children study academics and arts; take field
trips; and learn about their rights.

The Edward Said Public Library opened two branches in Gaza in 2019,
with more than 2,000 books in Arabic and English, regular workshops
for writers and teachers, English language classes, and visits for school-
I’ve witnessed my mother’s tears of joy and appreciation
more than one time when she saw how I didn’t have to
carry the financial burden of getting an education and
was lucky enough to only focus my studies, which gave
me the opportunity to excel.
—Maya Mousa Odeh, 2019 nursing school graduate

Schoolchildren feel enormous pride and delight when they get their
new backpacks made in a Gaza factory and filled with books and
school supplies.
Maia Project: Bringing Clean Water to the Children of Palestine
Number of water purification and desalination units
in Gaza schools: 73
Number of children getting safe clean water: 90,000
Maia units installed in 2019: 5

In 2019 five more units were installed with the generous support of:
• ConnectHer and MECA 2018 Giving Tuesday supporters around the
• The citizens of Madison, Wisconsin
• Zam Zam Water in honor of Amin Seif Al-Kisswani
• Zam Zam Water Supporters Around the World
• Zam Zam Water 5th Anniversary Gala, June 2019

If you or your community are interested in funding a Maia unit, please get in
touch with Josie Shields-Stromsness:

Maia means water in Arabic, but 95% of the water in

Gaza is not suitable for human consumption. MECA has
been installing water purification and desalination units
in Gaza schools for the last ten years with funds from
individuals, families, and community groups. The Maia
Project currently provides safe drinking water for tens
of thousands of kindergarten, elementary, and middle
school students and staff.
Aid for Palestine and Refugees from Syria
Value of medicine and medical supplies
MECA staff and partners on the ground figure out what people in their com- purchased or donated: $103,000
munities need at any given time. They know what resources are available
inside their own communities and beyond and how to reach the most vul- Volunteer nurses providing first aid at
nerable children and families to alleviate hunger, treat the sick and injured, the Great Return March: 25
and provide protection from severe weather.
Families who received food staples and
Thousands of children in Gaza and /or hot meals: 1,552
in Lebanon got warm coats, shoes,
socks, hats, gloves, and scarves.
Clinics and hospitals that received medicine
and supplies: 12
Children who got warm winter clothes: 3,436
Homes in Gaza that got electricity systems: 716

A team of 25 volunteer nurses treated

more than a thousand protesters, jour-
nalists, and witnesses at the Great Return
March in Gaza.
MECA Events 2019
Nick Estes, a citizen of the
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe,
scholar, and co-founder of
The Red Nation, an organi-
zation dedicated to Native
liberation, speaking at a
MECA event called “Com-
memorating the Nakba:
Movement-Building for
Collective Liberation,” with
Noura Erakat, legal scholar, human rights attorney, and author speaking Lara Kiswani and Kristian
about her most recent book Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Pal- Davis Bailey.
estine at a MECA event in November 2019.
Refusal is the basis of all forms of anti-colonial resistance,
When we’re talking about Palestine, the U.S. is the central
and we, as the original peoples and nations of these
pillar of the problem. The same way that we are part of
lands, extend unwavering solidarity and support to our
separating families at the borders, the same way that we
Palestinian relatives who struggle for liberation from the
are denying access to asylum seekers, the same way that
same violence that threatens to erase our histories and
we are overseeing a mass incarceration problem that
our futures.
overrepresents black bodies. We are also overseeing the
—Nick Estes
subjugation of Palestinians as part of our policy.
—Noura Erakat 2019 Film-screening events
“Naila & the Uprising" "Imprisoning a Generation"
"The Judge"
Beautiful Crafts
from Across the Middle East
Award-winning olive oil, ceramics,
hand-woven rugs, embroidery,
jewelry, thobes, t-shirts, totes,
water bottles, olivewood, Dead
Sea bath and body products, olive
oil soap, keffiyehs, scarves, and
MECA’s Annual Palestinian Crafts Bazaar, along with our online store Shop-
shawls, cookbooks, edibles, fine art, generated $174,000 in revenue and brought over a thousand
prints, glassware, kids’ toys, and people in our Bay Area community to visit, eat, and purchase beautiful
much more…. handmade items to support craftspeople and small businesses in Palestine.
Introducing Rawa-
Creative Palestinian Communities Fund
Rawa: Creative Palestinian Communities
Fund is an initiative to “bring progressive
Palestinian community voices to the inter-
national philanthropy table.” After several
years of groundwork, in 2019 Rawa made
its first grants to creative grassroots devel-
opment projects. Rawa grants are nominat-
ed by community representatives (“cluster
members”) from across historic Palestine
who selected 23 projects for grants totaling
$410,000 last year. These included agricul-
ture projects; arts, media and cultural heritage projects; community-based
emergency services in Gaza; and youth leadership.
MECA serves as Rawa’s fiscal sponsor, receiving and processing foundation
grants and other donations and identifying people in Palestine to be part of
Rawa’s decision-making “clusters.”

During these uncertain times we believe that, now more

than ever, small farms like Om Sleiman should shine as a
sustainable economic model that doesn’t get affected by
the capitalist and consumerist system.

MECA’s Teach Palestine Project took thirteen K-12 teachers on a ten-day

trip to Palestine in order to develop, teach, and share curriculum that will
reach at least 800 students a year and hundreds of other classroom teach-
ers. Other 2019 accomplishments include:

• Community report-back on the trip and two-day curriculum work

shop for participants
• Collaborative workshops with the Chinatown Youth Center, Arab
Youth Organization, Urban Peace and the Xicano Institute for Teach-
ing and Organizing
• Teach Palestine workshops at Free Minds, Free People Conference
and Teachers 4 Social Justice Conference
• Presentations in K-12 and university classrooms
Remember Income
the Future!
With a Planned Gift to
the Middle East
Individual Donors $1,474,310.96 50.73%
Children's Alliance
Grants & Donations to Rawa Fund $504,660.44 17.36%
There are several ways to make contributions through your will. More in- Benefits & Fundraisers $267,176.50 9.19%
formation is on the MECA website at Foundation Grants $250,000.00 8.60%
Sales of Palestinian Crafts $174,286.71 6.00%
For further assistance, please contact Deborah Agre at Miscellaneous Income $75,258.05 2.59% Children's Circle (monthly donors) $78,029.00 2.68%
Employee Giving & Employer Matching $82,662.30 2.84%
TOTAL $2,906,383.96 100.00%
Many, many thanks to…
• The 3,405 individuals and organizations who made
financial contributions

• More than 30 groups and people who raised funds at events,

online, and on social media Expenses
• Businesses and professionals who donated goods or services,
with special mention to our website partner, Element 5 and
MECA’s long-time, extraordinarily generous and talented
Art Director, Jos Sances
Projects for Children $660,039.50 23.81%
• All of you who sustain the hard work of MECA’s staff and Humanitarian Aid $373,450.05 13.47%
partners caring for children in Palestine and Lebanon Fundraising $278,426.89 10.05%
Education & Cultural Programs $213,141.75 7.69%
Administration $221,662.16 8.00%
Shop Palestine/Bazaar $175,541.92 6.33%
Maia Project $106,635.00 3.85%
Support Scholarships $116,381.37 4.20%
MECA’s Rawa Fund Grants & Program $576,212.16 20.79%
profit making Rawa Fund Fundraising & Admin $50,096.68 1.81%
TOTAL $ 2,771,587.48 100.00%

PERMIT #8265