Autumn 2018 Bulletin

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.

This is our great friend Abu Yasser. We hope he will be visiting  us for 2 weeks while our HAFSA Palestine Festival is on in November.

This is our great friend Abu Yasser. We hope he will be visiting us for 2 weeks while our HAFSA Palestine Festival is on in November.

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.

Look at all the  sewage that poured down

Look at all the sewage that poured down

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.

Youth group in Bethlehem - Banksy Hotel! Note the Wall behind.

Youth group in Bethlehem – Banksy Hotel! Note the Wall behind.

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.

Staff, students and visitors enjoying the Palestine culture day celebrations.

Staff, students and visitors enjoying the Palestine culture day celebrations.

 This taboon was set up in the playground for the day:  when some of us visited Sabastiya last year, the Head Teacher told us she very much wanted to improve this area for the girls to enjoy. This is something that maybe HAFSA can help with ……one of our members may be visiting Sabastiya later in November and will certainly want to visit the school.

This taboon was set up in the playground for the day: when some of us visited Sabastiya last year, the Head Teacher told us she very much wanted to improve this area for the girls to enjoy. This is something that maybe HAFSA can help with ……one of our members may be visiting Sabastiya later in November and will certainly want to visit the school.

A large painting in the girls school … showing how loved and valued trees are, particularly the olive, in Palestinian life and culture. And the land.

A large painting in the girls school … showing how loved and valued trees are, particularly the olive, in Palestinian life and culture. And the land.

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.

Ancient Olive trees in Sabastiya


 Hanwell report

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.

Stall Stall 2

So many people were interested in our group and the ways in which we support Sabastiya.


Coming up:

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




Summer 2018 Bulletin

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.

Raja Shehadeh in the Palace

Raja Shehadeh in the Palace

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

Spring 2018 Bulletin

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.

One of the young men shot by Israeli soldiers during the Passover visit to the heritage sites in Sabastiya by hundreds of Israeli tourists.

One of the young men shot by Israeli soldiers during the Passover visit to the heritage sites in Sabastiya by hundreds of Israeli tourists.

April 2018 - Israeli soldiers and their vehicles

April 2018 – Israeli soldiers and their vehicles

Tourist guide

The “rules” given out by Israel for visitors and the leaflet that Israel has produced. It looks as if the land and the area belong to them … and not to the Palestinians who live in Sabastiya.

The “rules” given out by Israel for visitors and the leaflet that Israel has produced.
It looks as if the land and the area belong to them … and not to the Palestinians who live in Sabastiya.

April 2018 – people get ready for a music concert in the wonderful peaceful, central garden café well away from where Israeli tourists visit.  Despite soldiers, gunfire, tear gas, leaflets and rules …… life goes on nevertheless. Sumud.

April 2018 – people get ready for a music concert in the wonderful peaceful, central garden café well away from where Israeli tourists visit. Despite soldiers, gunfire, tear gas, leaflets and rules …… life goes on nevertheless. Sumud.


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!

Sabastiya school for girls open day April 2018 – performing to proud family and friends. The girls are wearing the beautiful, traditional embroidered dresses.

Sabastiya school for girls open day April 2018 – performing to proud family and friends.
The girls are wearing the beautiful, traditional embroidered dresses.



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.

Autumn 2017 Bulletin


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.

Inline images 2

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

Inline images 6                       Inline images 7

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.

Inline images 5


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




Summer 2017 Bulletin

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!

Our summer social by the river Brent was also a great success: fantastic setting and food, songs and socialising as well as canoe trips down the river.  This one raised £612.

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.

For donations:

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

Spring 2017 Bulletin

We had our AGM on February 11th and a new committee was chosen (see below). We discussed future projects, and updated our constitution. We had a talk on the effects of the occupation in the West Bank and we socialised.

We usually ask for membership renewal at the AGM, if you have not paid for 2017 and would like to remain a member please do so. You can send a cheque of £5 to HAFSA at: HAFSA treasurer, 9 Cardiff Road W7 2BW. Or pay by bank transfer, the details of which are at the end of this bulletin

If you want to be taken off our list, please let us know by email.

2017 HAFSA Committee, in alphabetical order we have: Ahmad Kayed (our man in Sabastiya, aka Abu Yasser), Andree Ryan (Secretary), Cathie Bjarnason, Colin Lomas, Jean Fitzpatrick (Vice Chair), Lynne Ringuet, Marjorie Kelly (Membership Secretary), Mary Short, Monika Eady (Chair), Pam Case, Simon Quinn (Publicity Officer) Thurayia Muhammad.

Welcome to our new committee member Mary and welcome back Andree

News from Sabastiya: Ahmad Kayed reported that the Israeli military are now entering the village daily to take down the Palestinian flag that is flying on the hill in area C of Sabastiya. Young people are putting it back and there are frequent confrontations, burning tires, stone throwing and graffiti on the ruins and Roman columns. What was a village backed nonviolent action is now out of control. Tear gas is being used regularly and is affecting families in the area which are getting fed up. This year already eight young men were injured with live and rubber bullets. And eight were arrested, now out of prison. The village has been warned that things may escalate if unrest doesn’t stop.

Two Israeli peace organisations visited Sabastiya: Yesh Din (concerned with law) and Emek Shaveh, (a group of archaeologists critical of the digging and against the occupation). They are helping the village keeping their historical sites, of which many are situated in area C.

Sabastiya is now working at improving the look of the village to become listed as an area considered to be of tourist interest.
Two festivals are planned for this spring: 7-9th of April a Sufi festival with dance, music, a film on Sufism and children magic shows. Performers are coming from Morocco, India and other places. Followed by a spring celebration on 15-16th of April. Funded by an NGO.
Our Projects: last year we bought ten of these round tables and chairs for one of the nursery we also provided the girl’s school with a photocopier.

Future projects are still being discussed, we will keep you updated and we are open to ideas. If you can volunteer a skill, Sabastiya would be very happy to hear from you! Eg teaching music, martial art training or expert advice on pruning trees etc…..just email us.

Visit Palestine: we may organise a tour to Sabastiya in early autumn, no dates fixed yet, if you are interested email us and give us your availability.

If you would like to attend our committee meetings, you need to let us know in advance and we will give you the details, here are the dates for 2017:

Coming Events for your diary: these are all fund raising events, we are not charging fixed entry price, please donate what you can.

There will be a collection to cover the cost and raise funds for HAFSA.

 Tuesday 25 April 2pm- High Tea and film at Marjorie’s house: we will show the film: “The Stones Cry Out” the story of the Palestinian Christians. Pllease let Marj. know you are coming by emailing her: moc.l1586221858iamg@1586221858605131586221858yllek1586221858jm1586221858  or texting/phoning  her on: 07960804650

Friday 19 May 7.30pm- Balfour Centenary- British Betrayal? At Ealing Town Hall. Come and hear historian Dr Peter Shambrook explain how the Balfour declaration came about and how it has not been implemented in its entirety. Guest speakers: Ealing MP Steve Pound and Brentford and Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury. There will be a collection to cover cost and raise fund for HAFSA- there will also be a Zaytoun stall selling Palestinian products

Sunday 21 May 2.30pm- Pianola Concert and cakes at Bree’s Save yourself the trip to the musical museum and instead listen to a variety of music on an automatic piano while enjoying a chat and some tea/coffee and cake. There will be a choice of Jazz, Scott Joplin, Classical and popular Dance Music. Space is limited and booking essential. Please phone or email Bree: 02088101826 , moc.k1586221858ooltu1586221858o@sni1586221858bbor.1586221858eerb1586221858  to reserve a place and get venue details.Sunday 14 May 2pm, Thursday 20 July 10.30am, Sunday 10 September 7pm and Thursday 9 November 10.30am

We have a Facebook group, you can join at:


HAFSA Bulletin – April 2016


The AGM held in January was well attended with excellent presentations from the speakers Vincent Fean, former British Consul-General to Jerusalem, Huda Sameer, a former student of Jean’s in Nablus now studying landscaping in Greenwich and Birgit, a young German woman who was in Palestine helping with the olive harvest when her group was attacked by settlers.

New Committee:

At the first committee meeting in February elected officers were:

Chair: Monika Eady

Vice Chair: Jean Fitzpatrick

Treasurer: Cathie Bjarnson

Secretary: Lynne Ringuet

Membership and Minutes Secretary: Marjorie Kelly

Publicity: Bree Robbins

News from Sabastiya

Sadly Abu Yasser’s sister, Anaya, passed away at the beginning of the year. Anaya was a wonderful woman who was very active in the village community, leading the women’s co-operative, mentoring young girls, always helping out women in difficulty and leading in the setting up of the guest house. The committee will speak to Abu Yasser about setting up an annual prize in her memory to be awarded to a young girl who contributes towards the community. He has more recently also lost a cousin and a nephew. Our heartfelt condolences go to Abu Yasser and to his family.

On a more positive note, he has been in contact with the Israeli Archaeological Society about protection of the ruins and further meetings have been arranged with the Minister for History. This is very good news for the village as they will now be officially involved in any future developments regarding the ruins. They are very heartened by this.

Jean will be visiting Sabastiya for three weeks from 24th April and Lynne will join her for a week. They will be meeting old and new friends and the chickens, admiring the newly planted fruit trees and bringing back Palestinian goods for Hafsa to sell. Jean is also hoping to visit an outreach clinic of SAMA, the St John’s Eye Hospital in Jerusalem which has a network of clinics run by Diana Safier throughout the West Bank.

Zaytoun Products

Marjorie Kelly and Kathy Tomlinson have taken over the sale of Zaytoun products so please contact them for your supplies of olive oil, za’tar, soap etc. Kathy can be contacted on 02085795282 Marjorie can be contacted on 07960804650. Zeytoun goods will be available for sale at the socials and summer festivals.


In March, Hafsa sent £1,500 to buy fruit trees for 41 village families. They included almond, lemon, peach and two types cherry tree, planted in gardens and on farms. They are very appreciative of this contribution.

Longer term, the committee is also exploring ways in which we can set up some form of assistance for the special needs children and young adults in the village. This will require local professional input and ideas. There are several schemes operating in the West Bank especially in Bethlehem. Some provide care and therapy or activity sessions while others are occupational with members making bags or felt products. This is a project that needs careful preparation and clear understanding of what Hafsa is be able to commit to in the long term.

There is also a suggestion that Hafsa support a project to deal with ‘grey’ (waste) water. This again needs further research.


Bree and Monika have produced a new Hafsa leaflet after stocks of our last one ran out. This will be published soon.

Upcoming functions

We will be showing the wonderful Palestinian film ‘Paradise Now’ at the Northfields Community Centre on Tuesday 24th May at 7.30pm. This film by Hany Abu-Assad won the 2005 European Film Academy award for best script and was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film. Filmed during the Intifada amid real life violence, it deals with the grim subject of suicide bombing but with a darkly comic theme running through it. Simon Quinn has studied Paradise Now in depth and will introduce it.

We are trying to widen the popularity of our film showings so please bring a friend who might be interested.

There will be Hafsa stalls as usual at the Hanwell Carnival (18th June) and the Brentford Festival (4th September).

A Summer Social will be held at Jean and Colin’s (109 Southdown Avenue) on Saturday 16th July starting at 6pm. These socials are always great fun, delicious food and a chance to get together and to raise funds for our village projects.

Balfour Year 2017

Next year will mark the centenary of the infamous Balfour Declaration, a letter written in 1917 which ultimately led to the woeful situation in Palestine today. Go to for more information on it and on activities that are being planned for next year. Some members would like to participate in this and we will be planning local informative events. This may not be under the Hafsa banner if it is deemed political and therefore not within our constitution.

Annual Membership

The annual membership fee of £5 is due at the beginning of the year so a reminder if you haven’t joined for 2016. You can send a cheque to Marjorie Kelly, 5 Cardiff Road W7 2BW or make a bank transfer to the Hafsa account, Co-op Bank, sort code 08 92 99, account number 65449004. Please don’t forget to put your name in the reference box if you make a transfer.

HAFSA Bulletin – August 2015

News from Sabastiya

An unusual heatwave has hit Palestine since the beginning of August with temperatures reaching 40C. People are struggling to keep cool. There are few tourists visiting at the moment.

A group of us visited Sabastiya in the spring. We found the Al Kayed Guest House (which HAFSA has supported) busy and increasingly popular with tourists. We found the usual wonderful hospitality, nothing was too much trouble for Abu Yasser, his wife Samah and the team. It continues to receive great feedback and has maintained a 5-star rating on Trip Advisor.

The Women’s Union have tentatively started soap-making using the material we bought for them and everything they have produced so far has been sold.

We are still waiting to hear more details regarding the feasibility of setting up a bee project in Sabastiya and considering other ventures.

Back in Hanwell…

Here in Hanwell, we have had a few successful fund-raising events, a big thank you to all who helped in baking cakes, cooking food, donating stuff, helping on stalls and attending events

The Bubbles and Bees social at Jean and Colin’s in June was great fun raising £675.50

In addition, we raised a total of £115 at the film evening in May.

Hanwell carnival was a busy and successful event that raised our profile, and brought in £309.50, from sale of cakes, lemonade, books and CDs

Colin Lomas’s excellent talk on, The Golden Age of Islam, in July raised £110

Upcoming Events

Brentford Festival

Our next event is the Brentford Festival on Sunday September 6, 2015 in Blondin Park, W5 – entrance via Boston Manor Road, not far from Boston Manor Tube station. This event is usually very well-attended. We will be having our usual stall, do come and support HAFSA.

We are looking to sell books, jewellery, crafts, CDs and DVDs, so any of those are welcome. Please bring to the stall on the day, or drop off at  Marjorie’s, 5 Cardiff Road, W7 – her contact details are: email: moc.l1586221858iamg@1586221858605131586221858yllek1586221858jm1586221858 or phone her on: 0208 567 8655.

Ealing Palestine Festival 2015 27-29th Nov.​

A group of us is organising this Festival to mark the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November, 29, 2015.

We are plan a musical evening in Ealing Town Hall on Friday November, 27; readings from Palestinian books and poetry recitals at the Drayton Bridge Hotel, W13, on Saturday November, 28 (afternoon and evening); other events are being planned for Sunday 29th November: a Palestinian breakfast and more… details to follow.  Please put these dates in your diaries!

Lavender and Beads

Member Gillian Brown is organising making lavender bags and jewellery, always top sellers. If you have a lavender bush, we would be grateful if you could harvest it (now is the time, on a dry day) cut the seed heads off the stalks as soon as you pick it  and  lay  on a sheet  to dry out. They have to remain aired while drying or else they rot.

Also, if you have any beads or old jewellery you do not want anymore, please keep for Gillian.

Use the Contact Us page to be put in touch with Gillian to arrange collection.

Visit Palestine:

We will be organising our usual spring visit to Sabastiya and the West Bank for 2016. More details to come at a later date.

Should you wish to go earlier, Zaytoun are running their usual harvest tour in October 2015 (11th to 17th) The tour spends 3 nights in Sabastiya.

Mini Bulletin – Winter 2015

The winter bulletin will be out soon. In the meantime here is a mini-bulletin with our latest news!

Our AGM was on the 5th January and was highly successful on both the administrative and social fronts. The committee was appointed, our progress in 2014 and future projects were discussed, and we heard from we several interesting speakers. You can read more in Monika’s report.

At our first committee meeting after the AGM, we appointed officers and co-opted two new members to the committee. Our members have been emailed the full list of new officers.

So now business has been attended to, what’s on our radar for 2015?

Our next project in Sabastiya is to help a women’s group set up a micro production of olive oil soap infused with local herbs and flowers

Our next events will be the Spring Social at Jean and Colin’s on Saturday 6th June 7pm, and a stall at the Hanwell carnival on Saturday June 20th, more details soon.

Any member is welcome to attend our committee meetings, here are the dates for 2015.
12 April Sunday at 7:00 pm
8 June Monday at 12:30pm
9 August Sunday 7pm
9 October Friday 10.30am
30 Nov Monday 12.30pm

Please contact Andree if you want to come so she can email you the venue. If you would like to join HAFSA, please do get in touch!

Hanwell Friends of Sabastiya Bulletin 9 Autumn 2014

hafsa_eggsWe hope you all had a good summer. It was not so good for Gaza or the West Bank, where the oppression by the Israeli army and the aggression from the illegal settlers increased greatly. In Sabastiya things were quieter, although two young men were shot at a demonstration in support of Gaza organised by the villagers. Both were admitted to hospital but are now back home.
hafsa_hens2Our main project in 2014, populating Sabastiya with hens and cockerels, was a great success. With your help, we managed to buy 420 hens and 30 cockerels for 84 families. Although around 20 died, many have produced chicks.
Projects that help Palestinians to become self-reliant are much appreciated and we will be looking for a new project for 2015. One suggestion is to find a way to recycle household waste water (grey water) to feed the vegetable gardens. Andree will be spending three weeks in Sabastiya this November and will investigate cost and implementation. If anyone has any good suggestions regarding this, please email us – we could do with some expert knowledge!


The Gaza situation has badly affected the tourist trade, which has fallen by 60% throughout Palestine. The Al Kayed Guest House, which we have supported, has had many cancellations well into the autumn. This is a problem for the family running it, as they still have to pay rent. Andree still hopes to be able to take the Zaytoun Harvest Tour group to stay there in November.
Spring 2014 saw us leading the Twinning Network tour. We visited Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, the villages of Bil’in, Burqa and Faquoua, Nablus and, of course, Sabastiya – where we stayed for three days and witnessed the invasion by an Israeli construction company taking over the ruins areas to develop them into an Israeli-run tourist attraction. The villagers protested, we lobbied our MP and wrote to the British Consul in Jerusalem for clarification as to what was going on. At present, the work has halted, but it is not clear to anyone, including the Mayor, what will happen next. The villagers are forbidden by Israel from developing the area themselves because the ruins are situated in Area C (as per the Oslo agreements of 1992) which they control. We are keeping an eye on developments.

hafsa_footballTwo Brentford FC football coaches joined us in Sabastiya (left) after coaching the Palestinian Olympic team and football teams in the refugee camp of Al Bireh/Ramallah. This project was organised jointly between us and the Hounslow Ramallah Twinning Association. We hope to develop strong links with Brentford FC who are quite supportive. The coaches, Ryan and Josh, got a great welcome in Sabastiya where they coached the school team and the young Sabastiya team. They were two great lads who communicated with everyone and were keen to learn more about Palestine.

In Summer we had our usual stalls at theHanwell Carnival and Brentford Festival, selling cakes, books, lavender bags, Zaytoun fair-traded Palestinian products and raising our profile.
This year’s Ramadan celebrations were dire because of the Gaza situation, but it is hoped that the next Eid on 5th October will be more festive. Last year during Ramadan we provided food parcels for 50 poor families. This year we have decided to buy shoes for the 20 disabled children and adults in the village who are largely from poor families. Eid is a time when people buy new clothes, etc. The cost of this project will be £370. This may be not very sustainable, however, as with the Ramadan parcels, it will be greatly appreciated by the recipients.

HAFSA Xmas cards

These cards have now been printed and are ready to go!

hafsacards2 hafsacards3hafsacards
The “O little tree of Bethlehem” card, designed by an artist friend, will be on sale at a cost of £1.50 each, or pack of 5 for £6
The “Three Wise Sheep” and “Greetings from Palestine” (featuring 3 girls holding stars) photographic cards will be sold in packs of four at £4 (2 of each).

Forthcoming Events

As ever, we have plenty going on!

Last Saturday of Sept, Oct and Nov 2014
11-3pm: we will have a stall at the Fox pub market (Green Lane W7)
Tuesday 30th September
An evening meal at a local Middle Eastern restaurant. Venue TBC, as we are still negotiating with restaurants.
Saturday 18th October
Autumn Feast: food, quiz, raffle and more – please support and bring others, this is one of our main fundraisers.
Venue: Jean and Colin’s, 109 Southdown Avenue W7 from 6.30pm onwards. Entrance £10.
Booking essential for catering purpose with Jean: 020 8933 0004 or email:ku.oc1586221858.liam1586221858toh@n1586221858irrep1586221858ztifn1586221858aej1586221858
Sunday 7th December
Abu Santa’s Grotto, from 2pm-6pm. High tea (cucumber sandwiches, delicious homemade cakes, scones and more!) provided plus the chance to buy new and nearly new goods at very reduced prices. If you have, or can get hold of, items in good condition or, even better, unused, please donate for this event.
Venue: Andree’s, 93 Oaklands Road, Hanwell W7 2DT (020 8567 3446). Entrance £2.
AGM – Saturday 17th January 2015
HAFSA AGM- 3pm to 6pm, at St Thomas Church, Boston Road. Programme to be announced at a later date.
Silent Vigil
One of our member has taken the initiative to start a silent vigil for Gaza and Palestine every Saturday 12 to 1pm, outside Sainsbury’s (to the left of the library), in West Ealing. Please bring your own message/poster, or just come along for all or part of the time.
Spring 2015
We hope to organise another tour of the West Bank and Sabastiya. If you are interested or would like to chat about it, please email Andreemoc.o1586221858ohay@1586221858eltru1586221858ttrop1586221858yat1586221858 or phone 0208 567 3446
Upcoming Committee Meetings

Members are always welcome to attend – please email us if you wish to do so (moc.o1586221858ohay@1586221858eltru1586221858ttrop1586221858yat1586221858) and we will provide the address. The dates are:

Thursday 2nd October and Thursday 27th November, 2014, at 7.30pm
HAFSA is online!

hafsa_facebookWe now have a Facebook group – you can join at: