In 2016, HAFSA supported one of Sabastiya’s nurseries by purchasing ten round tables and chairs.
We also provided the girls’ school with a photocopier.
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.l1579899825iamg@1579899825605131579899825yllek1579899825jm1579899825 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 , email@example.com 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:
Sabastiya – Spring 2016
Travelling: no problem at passport control either way.
The arrangement to get taxis directly from and back to Tel Aviv worked well. A good system: cost this time £70 each way (per party). Good to talk to the Palestinian driver from Tulkarem during the journeys.
Guest house: largely unchanged and still comfortable and welcoming. Not as many guests as in past years due to worsening of the situation (ie knife incidents etc.). While I/we were there we met a twinning group of 3 from the Midlands, 2 PhD students from Germany and Switzerland studying at the British Study Centre in Jerusalem, a family from Hebron (academics), a group of 6 from France who had come to do some walking /exploring, 6 people (from Cyprus, Jordan, Italy) attending the International Mosaic Conference; 2 French and one British EA, an American student studying Arabic in Jordan.
Abu Yasser was expecting later in May a group of about 40 younger Palestinian Israelis (from Haifa/Nazareth) to come with their professors and use the Palace and rooms for a day to explore closer links with the West Bank. And a couple from the West Wales group en route to their twinned village of Rummaneh (very NW corner of the West Bank close by the Israel border).
Enaya Kayed, Abu Yasser’s sister: she was a really active woman, in the village, regionally and nationally in Palestine. At the celebration of her life 40 days after her death, they had a big gathering in the Holy Land Sun, with a lot of national dignitaries paying their respects. She was instrumental, with her brother, a GP and now the Deputy Mayor of Sabastiya, of getting the authorities in Nablus to agree to the filming of Paradise Now. There had been stiff opposition. In the film, in her honour, Sabastiya is mentioned (but not shown).
In the village: we reconnected with some of the young guys I taught English to, particularly Shadi who used to run the original guest house, but who now runs the third, newest guesthouse called the Mosaic Guest House owned and run by the organisation that has links with the religious charity in Italy, who created the original guesthouse, and in so doing uncovered many of the ancient ruins and mosaics in the centre of the village. They were the group that organised the successful Mosaic Conference. Abu Yasser and Shadi now work together in terms of putting up large groups who come to Sabastiya.
There have been considerable problems with the running of the original guest house: the municipality in May got rid of the latest manager and are appointing someone else. Abu Yasser may be involved in helping out the new person.
Watched 3 games of international football – once with Lynne on the large screen set up in the central café, and twice in the café up near the Holy Land Sun. Lots of tea, coffee and squash and biscuits consumed. Very chilly evening.
We were warmly welcomed to the central café by Abu Majdi as usual. People were friendly and said hello. It is looking very beautiful and pristine. They have a few sunshades on the tables now.
I met a group of 3 older guys who spoke to me in German …. All of whom had gone to live in Germany some 50 years ago. A couple still lived there and came back to Sabastiya for 2 months around Ramadan. They told me that there were in fact 20 men in the village who were like them and that a German documentary maker had been to film them recently to make a film about their stories/lives.
Girls School: We thought it very important to try and really connect with them. We were very warmly welcomed (more tea/coffee/biscuits/chocolates). Miss Amani the head showed us around the office etc. They now have 3 teachers of English, the newest one is part time and was the most proactive: it was through her we got to hear about the dire need for a new photocopier. A good replacement costs £1400. They have £400 from Anaya Al Kayed’s estate. This leaves £1000. It was agreed that the money we send goes via Abu Yasser. Everyone was happy with this. I have the email addresses of all 3 teachers and connected with one on FB.
I made short videos of these 4 staff talking about twinning (for something the Twinning Network wants to produce). Miss Amani’s daughter has just graduated in medicine from an Najah university. Speaks excellent English, I have done a lot of corresponding via her.
Need for books: there is a shortage in the school and the girls complain they have to read the same ones over and over again. Wafa, one of the teachers of English would like to do drama with them: they used to perform little plays in English when she was at school (she’s in her early 50s): could we find some plays to take over: or, we could adapt a story into a play format and email it. She would like a play that has a moral! Why not!!! I think we should take books over each time we go.
Our involvement: they said some very nice things about HAFSA! We are welcome any time … but May is the very worst month to do more than just pay visits to the staff room to drink coffee. March and April are better … and maybe we can actually do stuff in classrooms with the teachers and students….
Two Annual Hafsa Prizes/certificates to commemorate Enaya: this was enthusiastically agreed to: for contributions to the community: school and village. As it was the end of term almost, I was invited to a staff lunch at the Holy Land Sun a few days before I left.
Village Library: This time I took over some books from the Oxfam bookshop in Ealing in excellent condition. I asked Abu Yasser what to do with them .. he suggested the library. Library?! This is in a room in the Municipality building. It is run by Zainab who volunteers her time. She had not heard of HAFSA. Originally from Sabastiya, she has just retired back here after spending 36 years as a high school science teacher in Jordan. She was delighted to see us. And get the books … HOWEVER, when I was browsing around I saw they had in fact loads of books in English, clearly largely unborrowed. But, kids who come like playing games …. So maybe we can think of this in the future. Zainab speaks good English, and said we were welcome to visit the library any time – and get to interact with the kids a bit as I did. It was all very relaxed and informal.
In the next room is the clinic where we met Maryam one of the main nurses. She lives in Nablus. She had not heard of HAFSA. She spoke excellent English, partly because her husband works and travels in Palestine a lot with and on behalf of international NGOs. Very outgoing and chatty. In Sabastiya there is a higher incidence of cancer than in comparable areas and they don’t know why.
“Special Needs” Project: Before any centre is established, it is necessary to find out what the range of needs are, what the priorities might be. We visited Marwan in Jenin refugee camp who along with others started a centre offering replacement limbs, physio and speech therapy. His paid day job is working for the ministry of youth and culture in Ramallah. We attended an afternoon of a 3-day summer camp for about 60 young people with learning disabilities. Students came from various places in the West Bank. It was fun and very inspiring. Hani, Abu Yasser’s son came along too. This camp was held in a centre in the Jordan Valley owned by the ministry of youth now … it had been built in the thirties as a British prison …. very eery being there!
What should/can HAFSA do? A needs analysis needs to be done; Abu Yasser says they already have some information. Marwan could assist in helping with this and costing it. Abu Yasser was keen on replicating a summer camp for just a day for Aabastiya and neighbouring villages …. Marwan could help organise this. It might help get the ball rolling ….
Women’s project to make and supply pizzas and filled bread to school tuck shops: This has absolutely nothing to do with HAFSA as it is funded by a foreign NGO. They have equipped a larger downstairs room in the palace as a kitchen. It seems ideal. But, we did get to meet and spend time with the group of 5/6 women who do this every day … some getting up at 5.30 to begin all the prep and baking … etc etc. One morning Lynne and I went with Samar, Abu Yasser’s wife, to help deliver all the food. We went to 3 other neighbouring villages. it was so interesting, the drive through the hills so beautiful! And the reception in one of the girls’ schools literally overwhelming. At the last stop we went back to someone’s house for a cold drink and a biscuit.
The women chop onions and peppers by hand …. For all the toppings and fillings. It takes 2 women at least an hour … I thought maybe a small, labour-saving food processor might be handy ….?? But maybe they like doing it in this traditional way? Like picking, preparing, rolling all the vine leaves… takes so much time …. But that’s what they do. Any thoughts?
Developing the Northern West Bank tourist/friendship network: For a few years now, Abu Yasser has been very keen on the idea of improving communication/tourism in this area, and networking with like-minded Palestinians … i.e, north of Ramallah up to the border with Israel. He feels this area is neglected by international visitors/NGOs etc. He has established contacts and is building on these: visits, joint projects, maybe forming a committee to discuss possibilities.
The annual Palestine Festival of Literature takes place at the end of May which I told Abu Yasser about. It transpired that he knows one of the organisers from Bir Zeit university in Ramallah. The only one event they had up north was in Nablus, at the library. He wants to talk about the possibility of having something in Sabastiya. You may have read that Ahmad Massoud, one of the artists due to take part, the author of Vanished who came to our Ealing Palfest, was denied entry at the Allenby Bridge … by Israel, who said he was from Gaza. He has a British passport, but no, he is from Gaza, so can’t visit the West Bank. All the other international artists got through. I heard him speak recently and he said this experience has really shocked and traumatised him… as if he is a non-person.
Israel/settlers: Soon after we arrived, Abu Yasser told us that they had been told that Israel would be back within the week to continue to their development of the ruins area, ie Shomron National Park. They knew no further details … and no further news came . ……
It was Passover while we were there, and for 2/3 days all the area from the far side of the large carpark/football pitch, to the ruins in the hills … was out of bounds to people from Sabastiya/Palestinians. It was popular with Israeli visitors who came in cars and coaches.
The army was present with jeeps and guns, and one evening there was some trouble with them throwing tear gas canisters through the windows of a house where there were a number of young people at home. Late one night there had also been stone throwing by settlers on the main road to Nablus, which caused long traffic jams and much fear. We were coming back from a concert of the first Nablus Cultural Festival and got caught in this … our driver had to take a detour into the hills to get us to Sabastiya. He was clearly very fearful.
Other things: It was a packed programme the 6 days Lynne and I were there together – we also went up to meet people from the new group in Rummaneh to help forward a project for their nursery. We had lunch in Jenin with the main guys. We visited a women’s craft fair in Nablus and sourced a number of items, discovering the wonderful women who run the Tubas Soap Company.
Outside of this, when Lynne had gone home, I also caught up with friends and ex-students from the university, did some English conversation there, visited homes, had so many dinners, so much coffee and tea. Heard about one large development project in Bethlehem, Tubas and Tulkarem governorates …. And financed by …. The British Government! I could hardly believe my eyes and ears. If you google this you can also find some fine-sounding words that were written to report the signing of this agreement at the posh Movenpick hotel in Ramallah. You remember Huda, my ex-student who spoke at our AGM… her father is involved in this and invited me to the ceremony. It would have been amazing to have gone but I would have already left by then.
I went to meet a friend who works at the British Council in Ramallah, went back to my favourite restaurant there, Ziriyab, and discovered a new one offering curries and oriental cuisine .. the owner learnt his skill in San Francisco and is married to an American. But of course! I treated myself to a nightie and a ring from THE silver shop in Ramallah ……details of which I am sure you are dying to hear about. I was offered gifts to bring back for everyone! Jars of jam, honey, olives, olive oil, zatar, bars of soap, lemons, grapefruit, mint, sage … and literally, the shirt off their backs…. Such is the second to none hospitality as we all know. Sadly I had to leave these all behind. And my heart.
Jean, June 4 2016
View photos of their trip in the Gallery
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 www.balfourproject.org 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.
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.
Dear HAFSA members,
You are invited to attend the Hanwell Friends of Sabastiya 5th Annual General Meeting. This will take place on:
Saturday 30th January 2016 from 3pm until 6pm
At St Thomas Church Hall: 182 Boston Rd, Hanwell W7 2AD
we will have the usual formal AGM (draft agenda below) and a speaker or two (TBC) then socialising round a buffet and drinks
DRAFT BUSINESS AGENDA:
· Minute of previous AGM (attached)
· Matters arising (will be included in the chair report)
· Chair report (illustrated), questions and adoption of report
· Treasurer report, questions and adoption of report
· Nominating a new committee (minimum 6). The new committee will chose from its members a chair, vice chair, treasurer, secretary at their first meeting. it would be good to have new faces in our committee, If you are willing to become a committee member, please e mail me. Nominations will also be taken on the day from the floor.
· Any Other Business and general discussion
If you would like to add anything to the agenda please send me your request by January 10th
Andrée (HAFSA Secretary)
Abu Santa Grotto
This Sunday 6th December 3pm to 6pm at Andree’s: 93 Oaklands Road, W7 2DT
Scrumptious high tea with all the trimmings and a chance to buy all your presents at a very reasonable price while supporting HAFSA
Entrance is £2
And if you have unused items to donate for the grotto please bring with you or drop at Andree (0776 1104 609)
All welcome, please forward
November 20th to 29th 2015
To mark the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (Nov 29th), we will be holding a Palestinian cultural festival featuring film, music, poetry, books, cooking, crafts and more …