Dear friends, welcome to our Autumn 2018 bulletin. We hope you will find the short reports from both Sabastiya and Hanwell interesting and informative – and that reading this will encourage even more your support for HAFSA.
Our big news is that we have invited Abu Yasser to come and visit us in November. He has applied for his UK visa … and now the waiting starts ….. to see if he is granted it.
Palestinians often find it very difficult to get a UK visa. We hope that the warm and generous letters of invitation from HAFSA, from St Thomas Church and from the Hanwell Justice And Peace Group will ensure that he is allowed to come. We are very excited. You will have a chance to meet and listen to him while he is here: you will see the details from the Palfest programme (Nov 16th and 23rd). It will be a pleasure to return the hospitality he always shows us when we visit.
There will be other occasions to meet him – we will send out information via separate emails.
Many thanks to HAFSA member Tom Robinson especially who has helped with all the visa application bureaucracy.
Fingers crossed! Inshallah.
Jean, October 2018
Report from Sabastiya:
Once again, as always, life in Sabastiya has had its highs and lows. Summer is the time to organise and enjoy cultural festivals – and this year was no exception. Hundreds of people came there for the music and dancing. The Roman Amphitheatre is an ideal place to put on performances.
Some weeks later Abu Yasser reported that sewage was again being dumped on the village and its agricultural lands by the people in the nearby illegal settlement. As you can imagine this made life unbearable for our Palestinian friends in all kinds of ways.
HAFSA was pleased to pay for a day out for the youth of Sabastiya who do a lot of voluntary work in the village. They went to Bethlehem for the day and fitted in so much including the famous Banksy Hotel called the Walled Off Hotel.
For some it was the first time they had been to Bethlehem. We were very pleased the group were able to meet up with some old friends of HAFSA – the wonderful people who run the Wi’am Reconciliation Centre right next to Aida refugee camp and the Wall.
Earlier in October the girls’ school proudly celebrated Palestinian culture – in the traditional way with the wearing of embroidered costumes, dancing and bread-making – in a version of the traditional taboon. Customs in this way get passed on to future generations – important in a land where much is under threat. It’s important to keep history alive.
The head of the girls’ school is waiting for us to give her more details about a local school here who are in principle keen to know more about having a school link. We hope we can give you more updates about this in our next newsletter.
The olive harvest is underway as this newsletter reaches you. We hope it will be a good one … but the signs aren’t that good. The olive trees near the settlement are in very poor condition.
Our summer fundraising social in August was a great success as always. 50 people enjoyed the hospitality of Mary and Chris in their house by the River Brent. Look out for the date next year.
Early in September we had a stall again at the Brentford Festival: lots of helpers came to do a shift. If you can help next year, please contact us.
So many people were interested in our group and the ways in which we support Sabastiya.
Our mini Palfest is taking place on 2, 9, 16 and 23 November. As you will see from the details here we are presenting a very varied programme:
The film is a must-see, beautifully shot and directed it tells a very moving story.
On the evenings in the William Hobbayne Centre we will have music and singing – in Arabic – from Houria Niati (9th) and Julia Aaisha and Fatima Helow (16th). We are expecting more surprise guests! Saadeh George will be lending us some of her Palestine-inspired art work.
Can you help out?
As we are having Palestinian finger food on the 9th, and 23rd of November we need a couple more people to help out with the food and refreshments. We plan to have light snacks on the 16th of November. If you are able to help please contact Marjorie Kelly on 07960 804 650
Zaytoun goods will be available for sale on the 9th, 16th and 23rd of November.
St Thomas Church Christmas Bazaar is on 24 November 2 – 4. Marjorie and co will be having a Zaytoun stall. Come and buy!
Find out how to stay in touch and support our work here
Saturday 4 August – Social – Summer Evening by the River Brent
At Mary’s house in Brentford. Starts 6.30pm, food from 7pm. £10 entry, paying bar, live music, raffle…. Please let us know if you are coming by 1 August for catering purposes.
HAFSA Bulletin 14 – Summer 2018
Dear friends, welcome to our Summer 2018 Newsletter.
Once again it contains a lot of news and information which we hope you will find interesting. We keep up to date with life in Sabastiya via regular skype meetings with Abu Yasser: a very special thanks as always to him – “our HAFSA man in Sabastiya” – for his ideas, inspiration and generosity. We hope he will be visiting us this November to coincide with our Palestine Festival. More details below.
Technology (when it works!) is a wonderful thing. We continue to feel very close to our friends over there on skype, face book and what’s app. We hope that through our regular newsletters you do too. If you want more information or would like to get involved please get in touch.
Bree Robbins: as you will know Bree died some weeks ago. Four of us attended her beautiful Buddhist funeral service. She was HAFSA Vice Chair and active with us for a number of years. We will take the opportunity to celebrate her life through our November Palfest to whose organisation she was giving a lot of time and commitment up to her death. Thank you Bree.
1) Report from Sabastiya – Abu Yasser
2) Hanwell Carnival report
3) Events for your diary
4) HAFSA projects – and international links
5) Our contact details
1) SABASTIYA REPORT: the guest house and palace have been busy with guests and workshops. Schools finish in Palestine in May and are back in September. In Sabastiya they try and organise activities for children, families and visitors over the summer.
Often they take place in the Al Kayed Palace Guest house (which HAFSA has supported from the start and where we stay when we visit).
When we spoke to Abu Yasser at our recent committee meeting on skype he told us they had a special visitor at some recent art workshops organised by the Goethe Institute and wondered if we had heard of him. We nearly fell off our chairs when he told us his name: the great Raja Shehadeh – lawyer and writer who is known throughout the world. He was born in Ramallah and continues to live there. One of his best-known books is Palestinian Walks. There will be an exhibition in the palace and the BBC will be there.
Football fever has taken over Sabastiya, thankfully it is relatively calm at the moment and there aren’t many army incursions. Unfortunately, the forthcoming olive harvest looks poor due to freaky weather.
Abu Yasser suggests we help in organising a trip to Bethlehem for the volunteer team. Most of them have never been there, or seen the wall, the Banksy Hotel museum will be very educational, they could also visit Mazin Qsmieh Palestine Natural History Museum which has recycling ideas and meet up with youth group. In principle we like the idea and we have asked Abu Yasser to provide us with a programme and a costing.
2) Hanwell Carnival – report. Once again this was a very successful event for our group. We had lots of helpers on the stall and made over £600. The weather was nice and this brought out the crowds. We were able to talk to a lot of people about our group, about Sabastiya, about Palestine. We have had a stall at the Carnival for quite a few years and find it is one of the best ways to engage with the public.
3) Dates and events for your diary (more details will follow by separate emails. We aim to raise awareness and raise funds for us to continue our projects with Sabastiya.
Tuesday 24 July, 1pm- Social – HAFSA lunch at Ya Sham Lebanese Restaurant, 14 Broadway, West Ealing. All welcome. NB: contact us via our email or text Jean (07739429754) by 20 July so we can let them know numbers. Pay restaurant on the day.
Saturday 4 August – Social – Summer Evening by the River Brent at Mary Short’s house, Tallow Road, Brentford. Starts 6.30pm, food from 7pm. £10 entry, paying bar, live music, raffle…. More details to follow.
NB: let us know if you are coming by 1 August for catering purposes.
Sunday Sept 2 Brentford Festival in Blondin Park 12 – 6. Helpers needed, we will be setting up from about 11, more details via a later members email.
October Visit to Sabastiya – We hope to be able to give more information soon. It is timed to coincide with the very important olive harvest. Please get in touch if you are in principle considering coming. We would be leaving around 8th October, with possibly 2 nights in Jerusalem or Bethlehem before moving onto Sabastiya.
Mini Cultural Palfest : Friday 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd November 7-10pm – Detailed programme to follow.It will include poetry, spoken word , music, talks etc. Venues: Hobbayne Centre and on 2nd November Ealing Townhall – the Ealing Classic Cinema Club have kindly agreed to host the showing of the film When I Saw You by the acclaimed Palestinian film maker Anne-Marie Jacir.
We have set up a fundraising link: we hope you can support us and encourage others too! We have decided to include 2 other organisations as there are local Ealing links: The Chair of the Amos Trust lives in Ealing, and a number of Trustees of Friends of Nablus and Surrounding Areas live locally. It is good to network and help support the work they do which has the potential for cross-overs with HAFSA.
4) HAFSA projects: NEW! NEW! INTERNATIONAL LINKS: HAFSA is well-known in and around Sabastiya and beyond, the guest house which Abu Yasser oversees greets more and more visitors from abroad as well as from within Palestine (and sometimes Palestinians from Israel). He is often asked to lead sightseeing walks around the village even for visitors who come to Sabastiya for the day. He always talks to them about HAFSA and what we do! Many are very impressed and say they would also like to support developments in Sabastiya – in the ways we do – but don’t know how.
OUR SOLUTION? – To set up a paypal account for HAFSA that anyone can use if they want to donate. The money will come into our HAFSA account – and will be paid out on agreed projects in Sabastiya. We feel this has great potential. This paypal link will go live very soon.
Grey water recycling: Abu Yasser will prototype one in his house, if successful, we can help roll it out to other families. The engineer who knows how to install it will train other men in the village. It has become urgent to conserve water as the price of water has doubled. Each Sabastiya family has to pay £50 per month for water and electricity.
Sabastiya Girls School Links: we are still pursuing this and have homed in on some possible links. More later.
Trees: planting trees is always important in Palestine. If you would like to buy one to plant in Sabastiya get in touch – cards are £10 each – makes a good present!
Gas Masks: the 25 masks recently purchased have been allocated to vulnerable families. All the houses in the dangerous area (about 50 of them) have been given masks but they do not cover all the members of each family. More masks are always welcome. People are feeling safer.
Next HAFSA committee meeting: August 22 at 11.30
If you would like to attend just email us and we will let you know the venue.
You can also asked us to send you our minutes, if you so wish
1) Report from Sabastiya – Andree Ryan
2) Sabastiya girls school celebrate their Annual Open Day.
3) Our 2018 AGM
4) Events for your diary
5) Hafsa projects
1) Report by Andree from her recent stay in Sabastiya. April 2018
I have just come back from a month’s stay in the Occupied West Bank, spent mostly in Sabastiya and also Yanoun and Bethlehem.
What can I say? The situation on the ground is worsening by the day. New settlements are sprouting everywhere on top of hills, old ones are expanding, some are now huge industrial complexes. Today, the proportion of Israeli to Palestinians living in the Occupied West Bank is 1:6.
I spoke with many Palestinians, some openly speak of the death of the two states solution, and the Oslo Accords. Many are just waiting, trying to survive and provide for their families, they have lost hope and are “very tired of it all”. They feel cheated by the international community, Israel and their own Palestinian Authority.
Oslo Accords 1993?
The Oslo accords are 25 years old and Israel has not kept their side of the bargain, yet they are still in operation when it benefits them. Take Area C for example, it covers 70% of the Occupied West Bank, is controlled by Israel, but was supposed to be handed over within 5 years of the Oslo Accords being signed. Area C contains most of the natural resources of Palestine and is now covered with illegal Jewish settlements. It has been really and truly appropriated and it is obvious that it will not be given back.
Most of Sabastiya’s rich heritage lies in area C. It is now administered by “The Israel Nature and Parks Authority” which has issued leaflets for Israeli tourists. Visitors are warned not to go into the village and are always protected by heavily armed soldiers, who guard all the entrances to the area and hide in the olive groves. Two Sabastiya men were shot in the leg this April 4th when hundreds of Israeli tourists visited Sabastiya on their Jewish Passover holiday. The young men are now recovering at home. One of them is due a further operation to insert a plate in his leg, he said he was trying to comfort a frightened child when he was shot.
Since then there have been more incursions by the Israeli army, tear gas shot at the village and landing in homes where many children are present.
But who brings Israel to account?
It looks like Palestinians need a new strategy, the Oslo Accords are truly dead.
2) Sabastiya School for Girls:
We have built up a strong link with them over the years. They are always happy when we go and visit. The school has just had its annual Open Day – where girls of all ages put on a show of singing, dancing and performance, as well as displays of their art and craft work – to the rest of the school and to enthusiastic family and friends. Just like here!
3) Hafsa AGM held on 17 February 2018
Dr Marwan Daweish was our Keynote speaker.
A Palestinian, he is Principal lecturer in Peace Studies, at the University of Coventry and MA Course Director and tutor at the MA in Peace and Conflict Studies and author of Popular Protest in Palestine.
His main points: He expressed his appreciation for all we do for Palestine.
He was particularly interested in our support to the village at the time of the sewage crisis a few years ago when we helped their nonviolent resistance. It is vital that we encourage nonviolent resistance.
He believes that Palestine cannot just by themselves solve the current situation, the imbalance of power is too big. Palestine needs the international community. Like the anti-apartheid campaign for South Africa, we need a similar wide campaign for Palestine to add leverage. The BDS movement is very important. We need to speak out, educate, lobby, it will not happen overnight, but it will happen. Things have already changed a lot since the 80s when hostility towards the Palestinians was everywhere.
Internationals can do different things and some even act as protective shields in Palestine, it all counts and amplifies the voice of the Palestinians.
The difficulty we have, compared to South Africa where there was one authority, the ANC, is that in Palestine there is no unity. One role as internationals can be also to try and help facilitate unity.
We need to reach out to different people in whatever ways we can, including the Jewish community.
Visiting Palestine is also very important as this is when people see the truth and the severity of the situation for themselves.
He wished us good luck and said that we bring a human message of the Palestinians to the UK.
4) Dates and events for your diary (more details to follow): we aim to raise awareness and raise funds for us to continue our projects with Sabastiya.
- Hanwell Carnival Stall Saturday June 16 – help always appreciated
- Brentford Festival Stall Sunday Sept 2 – likewise!
- Summer Social on Saturday 4 August (details to follow)
A mini cultural Palfest : every Friday evening in November: poetry, talks, music, film.
October Visit to Sabastiya – we hope to progress details of this in the next few weeks. It is timed to coincide with the very important olive harvest. Please get in touch if you are considering coming in principle. We would be leaving around 8th October, with possibly 2 nights in Jerusalem or Bethlehem before moving onto Sabastiya.
5) Hafsa projects:
Grey water recycling: we are working with students from an Najah University in Nablus. A prototype will be tried out in one house and evaluated. For this to be rolled out more widely we will need to apply for funding.
School Links: we are still very keen to establish a link with a school in Ealing and have several leads to pursue. The National Union of Teachers organise regular annual visits by teachers to Palestine.
Trees: planting trees is always important in Palestine. If you would like to buy one to plant in Sabastiya get in touch – they are £10 each.
Gas Masks: all the gas masks we bought have been distributed, but more are needed as incursions by the Israeli army are now more frequent. This month already two older citizens have been taken to hospital for inhaling tear gas that were shot towards their houses. A gas mask cost £50 and can also be used against chemical attack.
As 2017 draws to its end, we are organising three events for this autumn: Abu Santa’s Grotto; a stall in West Ealing; and a pianolla concert. Details of all these events can be found on our events page
News from Sabastiya:
Four of us visited Sabastiya this autumn. The light was fantastic, here is a view of the Al Kayed Guest House at dusk.
It was relatively calm while we were there. The village was closed on one occasion, when the Israelis decided to celebrate their religious feast of Sukkot at the Sabastiya ruins. This happens quite often at the time of Jewish religious festivals. The next day it was noticed that some damage had been done to one area of the historical sites. It was not clear who was responsible, but when the Sabastiya municipality called in expert help to repair the damage, the Israeli army arrived and called a halt to it. Sabastiya municipality has formally complained to UNESCO.
We have made contact with the Department of Engineering at An Najah University of Nablus. They have agreed to assign a small team of students whose final year project will be to devise a practical and economical device to recycle grey water. This would be for home use to water trees and gardens. We would initially fund the prototype and, if all goes well, help produce more models.
The Women’s Co-operative, based in the Al Kayed Palace, beneath the guest house, have extended their work: besides producing snacks for the schools, they are now offering take-away dishes and cookery workshops
The olive harvest has just finished. Now is the time to plants more trees and we have sent £500 to buy olive and almond trees to be distributed to families. The trees we provided last year, mostly fruit trees, have done very well. We have also funded the purchase of 10 more gas masks to be given to homes close to the area where tear gas is usually fired.
The Al Kayed guest house, run by Abu Yasser, our rep. in Sabastiya, is doing well. They have now installed air conditioning in three rooms which makes it more appealing to visit in summer. Bara’ delivers eggs for our breakfast from the hens we bought his family and 30 other families three years ago in. Here is a photo of Bara’ when they received the hen and now selling us fresh eggs
The girls’ school has a new head who is determined to improve the school and involve parents more. The school is going to be modernised and extended. We have received a generous donation by one of our HAFSA members to finance the installation of a modern toilet block. Another member had generously donated money to clean up the village cemetery and plant trees and bushes
We visited the nursery the tables we provided for them last year are in use in every classroom adding a splash of colour.
Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) will take place on Saturday January 20th from 2.30-5pm
At St Thomas Church Hall, 182 Boston Road, W7 2AD.
Our guest speaker will be Dr Marwan Darweish – Principal Lecturer in Peace Studies at Coventry University. More detailed programme at a later date.
We will be looking for new committee members. Please consider standing, it is not that onerous – we meet circa 5 times a year. Most importantly, we will need a new Treasurer as Cathie is standing down after seven years.
To keep up-to-date with our activities you can join our Facebook page here
Information on how to donate to support our work can be found here
12 midday – 6pm, Sunday 3rd September
The Brentford Festival will be at Blondin Park W5 4UL, one entrance is from Boston Manor Road, not far from Boston Manor station.
We will have a stall selling books, cakes, jewellery and a tombola, we may also do some busking!
Please if you can donate items it will be very useful. Tombola prizes: anything as long as it is new (bottles, tins, games…). Cakes: any shape or form. Jewellery (even used) and good books. Please bring to the stall on the day or deposit with Marjorie, phone beforehand: 0208 567 8655
Also needed are lavender heads for Gillian to make lavender bags which sell very well, so if you have a plant please can you collect them and leave them on newspaper to dry until they get to Gillian: moc.l1579899807iamto1579899807h@yll1579899807ijynn1579899807ig1579899807
We hope to see many of you there!
It has been a very hot summer in Sabastiya, the temperature reaching 40c. The lack of water is becoming chronic. This is why we are envisaging supporting a new project of water recycling, more details below.
Here in Hanwell we have been busy fundraising and we thank all those who participated in one way or another. Despite being in the middle of a general election, 70 people attended our Balfour event in the Town Hall in May where MP Steve Pound spoke. We even managed to raise £60. Many groups of all kinds up and down the country have been organising an event relating to the Balfour Declaration which is a hundred years old this year.
Our stall at the Hanwell carnival was busy all day and we raised £555 with the sale of cakes, jewellery, and the tombola and reflexology sessions. We even got our MP Virendra Sharma to buy a tombola ticket!
The last event of the summer will be the Brentford Festival on Sunday 3rd September from 12 noon -6pm. This will be at Blondin Park W5, one entrance is from Boston Manor Road, not far from Boston Manor station.
We hope to see many of you there! We will have a stall selling books, cakes, jewellery and a tombola, we may also do some busking!
Please if you can donate items it will be very useful: Tombola prizes: anything as long as it is new (bottles, tins, games, etc….). Cakes:any shape or form. Jewellery (even used) and good books. Please bring to the stall on the day or deposit at Marjorie’s, phone beforehand: 0208 567 8655. Also needed are lavender heads for Gillian to make lavender bags which sell very well, so if you have a plant please can you collect them and leave them on newspaper to dry until they get to Gillian:*protected email*
News from Sabastiya: Ahmad Kayed reported that the water situation is dire. It seems that Nablus has taken Sabastiya’s share of the water allocated by the Israelis. The municipality is trying to resolve this, meanwhile villagers have to buy tanks of water from the Israeli water company.
On the positive side: A new committee was created to improve tourism in Sabastiya with the help of World Vision of which Ahmad is a rep. for the North of Palestine. They will fund this venture through the municipality, a movie will be made about the village. Publicity organized to bring local tourism and tourism from Israel. There are also plans to revive the yearly Sabastiya International Festival, as it existed before the intifada, hopefully starting next summer.
Our Projects: The first aid and emergency course for a group of 17 men and women has been completed. They have all been kitted out with gas masks and first aid boxes. The team has already been out three times to help. The gas masks are found to be very useful and we have been asked to buy some more to protect older people and asthmatics living in the areas where tear gas is usually fired. A mask costs £54 if you would like to donate a mask, or half a mask or a quarter of a mask, bank details are at the bottom of the bulletin.
For our next project we are looking at providing families with equipment thatwill allow them to recycle grey water. The water shortage is acute in the West Bank and as described above Sabastiya people are suffering. Recycling dirty water would allow them to water their fruit trees and vegetable gardens. One recycling plant costs around £100 and will help one family. If you would like to contribute to this project please donate. Details are at the bottom of this bulletin.
Visit Palestine: we are told again and again by Palestinians that our visits are important to them. It shows that they are not forgotten and helps break their isolation from the world. Three of us are travelling on September 5th. If you would like to come with us please contact us.
The Cooperative Bank, Ealing Branch
Sort code: 08 92 99
Account number: 65449004
Or send cheques made payable to HAFSA to: HAFSA Treasurer, 9 Cardiff Road, W7 2BW
Saturday 1st July 6-10pm
At Mary’s house: please contact Andree on the email below for full address.
Delicious Food, Bar, Live Music, raffle, Socialising and Canoeing!
Entrance is £10
Bring friends and family
Please email or phone if you are coming so that we cater well
or phone Andree 0776 1104609