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

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