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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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 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