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.
Two 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.
These cards have now been printed and are ready to go!
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).
As ever, we have plenty going on!
Members are always welcome to attend – please email us if you wish to do so (moc.o1579899777ohay@1579899777eltru1579899777ttrop1579899777yat1579899777) and we will provide the address. The dates are: