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NEWS Fall 2020

Lebanon Emergency The PaliRoots Community Raises


Over $164,000 for Healthy Meals
PaliRoots builds awareness about Pal-
estinian culture with Palestinian themed
clothing, jewelry, accessories and more
at PaliRoots.com. The company donates
a portion of every sale to MECA’s Kinder-
garten Nutrition Project in Gaza; supports
MECA’s annual winter relief efforts to provide warm clothing
and food to families in Gaza; and donates for school back-
packs and Eid presents.
PaliRoots launched a fundraising and awareness campaign
on the anniversary of the Nakba and all of us at MECA were
shocked—in a good way—to see this campaign take off on
social media. MECA received more than 3,000 donations to
provide healthy meals to children in Gaza and even got an
Instagram shout-out from supermodel Bella Hadid.
MECA’s Kindergarten Nutrition Project began in 2019 after
MECA staff members Dr. Mona El-Farra and Wafaa El Derawi
visited a kindergarten in Gaza and learned that more than
half of the children had anemia, and ten children suffered
from stunting as a result of malnutrition and food insecurity.
A man carrying a child walks past a damaged building MECA hired women in the community to buy and prepare
after the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon on August 4th. nutritious food, and MECA and our partners help arrange
CREDIT: Xinhua/Bilal Jawich
blood tests and weight and height checks for the children,
As we were finalizing this newsletter, there was an enor- and deliver meals to kindergartens daily.
mous explosion in Beirut. The number of injured, missing, Thanks to the enormous generosity of the PaliRoots com-
and dead increases by the hour and at least 300,000 people munity, MECA will be hiring many more women and provid-
have been displaced. This disaster comes on top of a severe
ing nutritious meals to hundreds more children in kindergar-
economic crisis related to the pandemic, political chaos, and
tens in the poorest communities in Gaza.
discrimination against the large refugee population. MECA
staff are in close touch with our partners in Lebanon and
The Gaza Kindergarten Nutrition Project resumed in
thankfully, none of their staff was injured in the blast. We
August after lockdown—and will be expanding soon
are sending funds for food, milk, psychological support, hy- thanks to the PaliRoots community.
giene supplies, and other needs for families who will now be
further impoverished. MECA stands in solidarity with all the
people in Lebanon, including the millions of refugees from
Palestine, Syria, and Iraq, as they face another devastating
crisis. And we want to acknowledge that many MECA sup-
porters have loved ones in Lebanon and we hope they are
safe and coping as best they can in the face of this disaster.
To support MECA’s relief efforts for Lebanon:
www.mecaforpeace.org/LebanonAid
To read a firsthand account from our partner, Dr. Olfat
Mahmoud, Director of the Palestinian Women’s Humanitar-
ian Organization: view the blog at www.mecaforpeace.org
MECA’s Response
to the Pandemic

While the Madaa Center, MECA’s


partner in East Jerusalem was
closed, the staff challenged
children in the community to
create art with coronavirus
prevention messages.

MECA distributed 3,450 hygiene kits (hand sanitizer,


alcohol, etc.) and house-cleaning supplies. In
addition, 6,350 food parcels, with vegetable seedlings,
were delivered to hundreds of families in Palestine and
in the camps in Lebanon for Palestinian and Syrian
refugees

In March, as the virus began spreading around the world,


MECA staff and our partner organizations in Palestine and
Lebanon initiated efforts to protect the population and health
workers, while alleviating the grave impact of the pandemic
on the already fragile economies.
There are now almost 18,000 known cases of coronavi-
rus in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. There are close to
6,000 confirmed cases in Lebanon, many among Syrian refu-
gees, an especially vulnerable population that MECA’s work
supports.
The number in Gaza is still under a hundred; a so-called
“silver-lining” of the extreme isolation and travel restric-
tions Israel has imposed on Gaza for thirteen years. But the
threat of an outbreak was real and terrifying in the spring.
MECA partners stopped on-site activities and we mobilized
to deliver prevention and protection supplies, as well as food
parcels to thousands of families—families who lost the little
income they had because of the general lockdown.
Many thanks to all who gave to support MECA’s coronavi-
rus response in Palestine and the refugee camps in Lebanon.

2 MECA NEWS
‫‪MECA helped the Palestinian Medical Relief Society set‬‬
‫‪up a mobile health team in Gaza to reach older people‬‬
‫‪and people with chronic conditions so they wouldn’t‬‬
‫‪have to leave their homes to get treatment and risk‬‬
‫‪exposure to the virus. Doctors and nurses visited more‬‬
‫‪than 300 people at home, providing consultation, free‬‬
‫‪medications, and prevention information and supplies.‬‬

‫‪MECA provided personal protective equipment‬‬


‫‪for health workers in Gaza, including gloves, suits,‬‬
‫‪masks, goggles, and face shields.‬‬

‫معلومات هامة حول فيروس الكورونا‬ ‫ماذا نفعل في حال ظهور أعراض األنفلونزا؟‬ ‫ما هو فيروس كورونا؟‬
‫(‪)Covid 19‬‬
‫علينا االتصال بالرقم المباشر الخاص بو ازرة الصحة‬ ‫فيروس جديد ٌيعتقد أنه انتقل إلى االنسان من حيوان‬
‫(‪ )103‬أو واتس أب و ازرة الصحة لالستفسارات‬ ‫غير معروف‪ ،‬ثم انتقل وانتشر من انسان إلنسان عن‬
‫‪ ، +970599503103‬واتباع التوجيهات وعدم‬ ‫طريق رذاذ التنفس السعال أو العطس ويصيب‬
‫التحرك كثي اًر لعدم نقل الفيروس ألفراد االسرة‪.‬‬ ‫الفيروس بعنف الجهاز التنفسي بالتحديد‪ ،‬مما يؤدي‬
‫إلى حدوث قصور وأحيانا فشل في الجهاز التنفسي‬
‫عزيزي الشاب‪/‬عزيزتي الشابة‬
‫وقد يؤدي إلى وفاة بعض المصابين به‪.‬‬
‫قد تحميك‪/‬ي مناعتك القوية وتقيك‪/‬ي من خطورة‬
‫كيف ينتقل فيروس الكورونا لآلخرين؟‬
‫المرض‪ ،‬لكن انتبه‪/‬ي ألنك‪/‬ي قد تحمل‪/‬ي فيروس‬
‫الكورونا وتوزعه‪/‬توزعيه على اآلخرين دون أن‬ ‫‪ .1‬االنتقال المباشر‪ :‬حيث ينتقل فيروس الكورونا‬
‫تشعر‪/‬ين‪.‬‬ ‫عن طريق الرذاذ أثناء الكالم أو العطس أو‬
‫أخي الكريم ‪/‬أختي الكريمة‬
‫السعال ويصل الجهاز التنفسي حين يستنشقه‬
‫أعد المادة العلمية فريق متخصص في الطب‬
‫من أجل سالمتك وسالمة من حولك‪:‬‬ ‫الشخص االخر القريب‪.‬‬
‫)‪Above: Shoruq organization (a MECA partner‬‬ ‫تعامل‪/‬ي في هذه الفترة على أساس أن الشخص الذي‬
‫والصحة العامة‪ ،‬مستنداً للعديد من الد ارسات‬
‫واألبحاث الدولية حتى تاريخ ‪ 31‬مارس ‪2020‬‬
‫‪ .2‬االنتقال الغير مباشر‪ :‬ويحدث من خالل استقرار‬

‫‪posted flyers to let people know that social‬‬ ‫أمامك يحمل الفيروس أو أنت تحمل‪/‬ين هذا الفيروس‬
‫جمعية لو بطلنا نحلم الخيرية‬
‫هذا الفيروس على سطح معدني أو خشبي او‬
‫مصنوع من القماش أو ورقي كالنقود الورقية‬
‫‪workers and psychologists were available for‬‬ ‫واتبع‪/‬ي قواعد الوقاية والسالمة‪ ،‬وإرشادات النظافة‬
‫والتعقيم وعدم الذهاب ألماكن مزدحمة أو الخروج إال‬
‫بالشراكة مع مؤسسة أطفال تحالف الشرق األوسط‬ ‫وغيرها‪ ،‬فاذا ما المست االيدي هذا الفيروس‬

‫‪phone counseling during the shutdown.‬‬ ‫لإلصابة‬ ‫االخرين‬ ‫تعريض‬ ‫وعدم‬ ‫للضرورة‪،‬‬
‫انتقل اليها الفيروس بسرعة ليدخل جسم الشخص‬
‫من خالل لمس العين أو‬
‫بالفيروس‪ .‬استخدام الكمامة فيه وقاية وحماية لك‬
‫األنف‪.‬‬ ‫أو‬ ‫الفم‬
‫ولآلخرين‪.‬‬ ‫خان يونس‪ /‬قطاع غزة‪-‬فلسطين‬
‫وينتقل لغيره من‬
‫نحن على ثقة بأنكم على قدر المسئولية‪.‬‬
‫‪Left: Lina Abu Laban, 14, wrote the winning story in‬‬ ‫مع تمنياتنا بالسالمة للجميع‪.‬‬ ‫األشخاص‬
‫بنفس الطريقة‪.‬‬
‫‪the writing competition held during the pandemic‬‬
‫‪shutdown by MECA partner Shoruq Organization in‬‬
‫‪Dheisheh Refugee Camp, Bethlehem. Lina’s story,‬‬ ‫‪MECA staff, volunteers, and partner organizations distrib-‬‬
‫‪“Abu Sameh,” is about her grandfather’s friend, their‬‬ ‫‪uted 6,000 leaflets with information about the virus and‬‬
‫‪memories of life before the Nakba, and what happens‬‬ ‫‪how to prevent its spread.‬‬
‫‪on the road when Lina’s family goes to visit him.‬‬
‫‪MECA NEWS 3‬‬
tanyahu plans to annex a third of the
From the Director already illegally occupied West Bank,
including much of the Jordan Valley.
As part of that plan, Israel recently
Zeiad Abbas Shamrouch gave itself approval to build 1,000
more units in Zionist settlements
near Bethlehem.
I know this is bad news, but it’s a
reality that we can’t hide. Every day is
CREDIT: Ericka Sokolower-Shain a challenge. What happens tomorrow
is unknown.
In July, Covid-19 began spreading out of control in the West Despite this daunting situation, our partners are doing
Bank. One of my friends in Dheisheh Refugee Camp where I their best with all the support we get from MECA supporters.
grew up, told me “The people are doing their best to protect And still there is a huge need. Thank you for everything
themselves, but in the middle of the night there are dozens you do.
of military jeeps coming to invade the camp and arrest peo-
ple. One of my neighbors was attacked and the soldiers de-
stroyed everything in the house. Who knows if these soldiers
are infected and spreading the virus throughout the camp?
When people protest the attacks, the Israelis shoot and fire
tear gas, and arrest more people.”
“This has a big impact on children,” my friend continued.
“Parents try to teach their children how to stay safe from the
virus without scaring them. But then the night-time raids,
the teargas, and the sirens terrify them.”
My friend’s story is echoed by our partners in Palestine.
“We can handle the occupation,” they say, “but it has become
very heavy, to deal with Covid-19 on top of the occupation.”
They are working constantly to help their communities be
safe, while the Israelis thwart their efforts at every turn.
In March Israeli forces demolished a field clinic, emergen-
cy quarantine housing, and a makeshift mosque in the Jor- MECA’s Gaza Project Assistant Wafaa El Derawi, a trained
dan Valley. In April, Israeli police shut down a clinic that was nutritionist and nutrition educator, arranges blood tests
providing virus testing in Silwan village in Jerusalem, arrest- and weight and height checks for the children, delivers
ing four of the clinic organizers. As people all over the world food parcels to homes, and conducts nutritional
were told to “stay at home,” the Israeli military pledged to awareness workshops for parents.
halt the demolition of Palestinian homes, which has been go-
ing on for decades. That turned out to be an empty promise,
as dozens of homes were destroyed, and hundreds of people
displaced. All this is on top of the checkpoints and walls that
make it so difficult to get medical supplies and services, and
to distribute hygiene supplies and food in the face of an esca-
lating economic crisis.
Gaza has so far been able to control the spread of the virus
by quarantining anyone coming from outside. Still, Gaza is
very vulnerable. The economic and social impact of the siege,
now in its thirteenth year, gets worse and worse—with as-
tronomic unemployment, periodic military assaults, and
endless repression. Most people are struggling to meet their
most basic needs.
Meanwhile, Israel is moving faster toward annexation and
Judaization of Palestinian land. Israeli Prime Minister Ne-

4 MECA NEWS
MECA’s 2020 Scholarship Program:
Stellar Students and Greater Need
Palestinian families were already struggling from the
financial impact of Israeli occupation and the siege of Gaza
when the pandemic arrived, causing businesses to close and
workers to be laid off. MECA is seeing a huge increase in the
number of scholarship applications this year.
Distance learning was really tough last spring but MECA’s
scholarship recipients have done their best to continue their
academic work online with these new challenges.

“My circumstances could never have allowed me to go to


University. Sometimes I cannot even pay the transporta-
tion. The MECA scholarship makes it possible to follow
my dream to get a degree in English translation. It gives
me hope for a better future. This year I have managed to
study and learn electronically when the University was
closed to limit the spread of coronavirus. It was some-
times difficult with the unreliable internet and electric-
ity, but I worked hard and now I’m preparing for the new
academic year.”
—Nourhan AlSamouni, MECA Scholarship Student

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

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

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


Federal and California
state employees, you can
give to MECA at work!
Please enclose a check or fill out the credit card form below.

Card Number: __________________________________ Expiration: ______/_____

Signature: ______________________________________ Security code__________

Email: _________________________________________

Name: _________________________________________
#15178
Address: _______________________________________

City_____________________ ST,___________ Zip:______________

Phone:_________________________________________

To make a donation online, go to: www.mecaforpeace.org/donate


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

MECA NEWS 5
Update on Crafts from Palestine Pottery from Palestine
MECA and Joining Hands have made the difficult decision Palestinian ceramics are produced today at various work-
to cancel this year’s annual Palestinian Holiday Crafts Bazaar shops following traditional and modern production meth-
for the health and safety of our volunteers, shoppers, and ods. The process involves molding each item from clay, leav-
staff. Each year, we look forward to the bazaar and the won- ing it to dry for two days, and then putting it in an electric
derful atmosphere of solidarity and community as more than kiln for 24 hours to set. Traditional designs are printed or
a thousand people come through our doors in one weekend. hand painted on a wide variety of items.
The smells of fresh Arabic food, and the beautiful colors and
textures of products from artisans and cooperatives all over The Fakhourys are located in
Palestine fill the MECA office. What’s more, the bazaar is a the old city of Hebron where
practical way to support Palestinian families struggling to Israeli soldiers and settlers rou-
protect their land and their heritage under occupation. tinely physically and verbally
Unemployment and poverty levels are rising dramati- harass Palestinians. Despite the
difficulties, the family is deter-
cally in Palestine, as intermittent lockdowns are enforced to
mined to keep their store open
prevent the spread of coronavirus and tourist groups have and their craft alive.
stopped visiting. Local shops are shuttered for weeks at a
time. The talented artisans and groups have so few opportu- The Karakashian
nities to sell their crafts—one artisan estimated his business studio in Jerusalem
was down 80% so far this year with little hope for change in continues the family
the coming months. tradition that began
MECA purchases these items from all over Palestine— in 1922 when Meg-
please take a few moments to learn about the people who erditch Karakashian
came to Jerusalem
make them and support Palestinian farmers and artisans by
to help renovate the
shopping at www.ShopPalestine.org. Dome of the Rock.

Olive oil The Ceramic Laboratory in the small


Palestinian village of Nisf Jubeil is
located in a beautifully restored tra-
ditional building and supports gifted
and talented women who run the
program.

Olivewood
Palestine has some of the world’s oldest olive A valuable wood species, olivewood is
trees, dating back 4,000 years. They are a main harvested from branches of olive trees that
source of income for an estimated 80,000 Pal- have been pruned at the completion of olive-
estinian families. This award-winning first press picking season. It takes a six-step process
extra virgin olive oil is aromatic and flavourful. and 45 days for a piece of wood to become
The olives are rain fed and handpicked by Pal- a beautiful piece of art. Skilled craftspeople
estinian farmers in the West Bank. The oil is all- spend six to seven years in training to become professional
natural—no chemical pesticides or fertilizers craftspeople. The Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative, a certi-
used—and is supplied by the Mount of Green fied fair-trade cooperative, based in Beit Sahour near Beth-
Olives, a certified fair-trade organization. lehem, works to alleviate poverty and assists artisans in the
marketing of products.
Award-winning fair trade Palestinian olive oil We have many gorgeous
available by the bottle, case, or tin, packed olive wood kitchen items
for 2020. from spatulas to cutting
The Israeli occupation makes cultivating and boards to salad bowls
harvesting olives very difficult and some- plus decorative pieces like
times dangerous for Palestinian farmers. crèches.
Edibles
No celebration of Palestinian culture is complete
without including the history and tradition of food
and its importance. We offer a selection of food
items—grains and spices, teas and olive oils—as
well as Middle Eastern cookbooks.
Embroidery
Palestinian cross-stitch embroidery (tatriz in Arabic) is a
beautiful example of Palestinian handicraft. Historically, this
work was typically produced by village and Bedouin women
in a wide variety of styles. Palestinian women express their
creativity, culture, and sense of regional identity through this
rich artistic tradition, characterized by elaborate patterns
and vibrant colors.
Most embroidery imported by MECA is from Gaza, where Agriculture is the most significant sector in Palestine and
our food supplier Canaan is engaged year-round with
artists work under incredibly difficult conditions.
farming communities, committed to long-term partner-
Sulafa Embroidery Center ships based on fair-trade principles.
supports approximately 250
local artisans in Gaza by
commissioning traditional
and contemporary
Alliance Graphics: MECA’s proud union shop
Since 1990 Alliance Graphics has been the Bay Area’s best
embroidered goods.
source for custom printed t-shirts or sweatshirts, embroi-
dery on shirts, jackets, caps or bags —virtually any textile—
as well as thousands of promotional and advertising special-
ty products.

To view some of our most popular products, visit


https://www.shoppalestine.org/favorites

Atfaluna Crafts in Gaza provides vocational training for


hearing-impaired people through a number of workshops;
including wood carpentry, ceramics, embroidery, sewing,
painting, and weaving. 51 Atfaluna Crafts’ employees and
250 women who produce the exquisite embroidery at
home are able to earn an income from this work.

Original, Palestinian keffiyehs in


traditional and contemporary
colors

Hirbawi Factory:
The Last Keffiyeh Factory in Palestine
Most keffiyehs sold around the world, including in Pales-
tine, are made in China or India. Today, only one factory re-
mains in Palestine—the Hirbawi family in Hebron continues
to weave the original keffiyeh. Originating in ancient Meso-
potamia, the keffiyeh has become a globally-recognized sym-
bol of the Palestinian struggle.
NEWS NON PROFIT
ORG.
US POSTAGE
PAID
Fall 2020 OAKLAND, CA
permit#8265

The Middle East Children’s Alliance and


Joining Hands regret that we are not able to hold
our annual holiday crafts bazaar this year. We hope
you will visit us online at

ShopPalestine.org
Do we have your email address?
Get updates about the children of
Palestine and refugees in Lebanon right
in your email inbox. Sign up now at

www.mecaforpeace.org