HAFSA Bulletin #1


Our committee meets every two months, if you would like to receive the minutes of the meetings or attend any of our meetings please get in touch.We have put the finishing touches to our new leaflet, which will be A4 double sided and in colour. We will distribute copies as soon as they are printed.

Jean in Nablus

One of our members, Jean Fitzpatrick, has gone to teach for 4 months in the Nablus University of Al Najah. Sabastiya of course is only a 20 minute drive from Nablus and Jean has been visiting weekly. She is holding English conversation classes with the young people there, including those who are coming over this summer (see below). Jean has a blog and you can read her entries at:  jeanpal.over-blog.com Two of our committee members, Cathie Bjarnason and Marjorie Kelly are planning to visit Jean this April and spend some time in Sabastiya.

Projects in the pipe line

Internet connection for Sabastiya schools: This is a request that came from the Sabastiya girls’ and boys’ school and we are investigating the possibility of helping in a sustainable way. There is no point paying for a connection (around £800) that the school cannot then maintain. On this project we may possibly get match-funding from the charity  “Friends of Nablus and Surrounding Areas” (FONSA www.fonsa.org.uk )Football coaching: They are very keen on football in Sabastiya and have asked if we could arrange for a visiting coach to go and stay for a few weeks.   The coach will be hosted by the locals; but we would have to find his/her plane fare. If you know of any volunteers, let us knowWoodcraft Folk International Camp in Sherwood ForestThe Ealing branch of the Woodcraft Folk (a children’s and youth organisation) has invited 7 young people from Sabastiya to attend this camp in August. Woodcraft members have been seriously fund-raising as we have to pay their fares, their camp fees and host them in Hanwell for a few days before and after the camp. HAFSA has pledged to help by participating in their hosting and providing some financial contribution (£500) towards their stay. The dates are: 28th July (very late at night) until 30th July and then 9th to 14th August. A social evening will be organised for them. We will send more information nearer the date. Meanwhile, the Woodcraft Folk have made a 20 minutes film about Hanwell which Cathie and Marjorie will show in Sabastiya when they visit this April.Developing friendship linksLinking people and organisations is a good way of getting our two communities to get to know each other. If you know of a school, church, women’s association etc…. that would like to link up with a similar one in Sabastiya, please let us know. Lots of interesting activities and can develop with such linksBorough involvementThere are not many examples of official twinnings between towns in the UK and Palestine. As far as we know there are two: Dundee and Nablus and recently Hounslow and Ramallah. On the other hand there are many friendship links developing all over. Such as Watford/Salfit, Camden/Abu Dis, Hasting/Yatma etc… In fact, there are more than 30 friendship links already created. We thin this is a good approach.The Palestine Twinning Network (http://www.twinningwithpalestine.net/index.html)  is a forum through which events can be organised and publicised.Three of our committee members have met with Ealing councillor Bassam Mahfouz who is very keen to support our work. He will organise for the young visitors to have a tour of the Town Hall this summer. We hope to maintain a healthy relationship with the Borough.A libraryWe are going to set up our own library of books and films about Palestine for our members to borrow.

Forthcoming events

Monday April 4th: 7pm, 109 Southdown Avenue, Hanwell is our next committee meeting.Monday April 11th: 7.30pm: an informal talk on Zionism by Martin who attended a series of lectures at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He will give a brief introduction then we will have an informal discussion, all in a calm friendly atmosphere. Please phone Martin on 0208 567 5613 if you wish to come so we  have an idea of numbers.Saturday June 18th: we will have a stall at the Hanwell carnival and will probably need help.Sunday August 28th: Sabastiya young people arrive in Hanwell for the Woodcraft International Camp.  Programme to follow.Autumn visit: we are envisaging running a tour this autumn (mid-October). It would last 7 to 10 days, start in Jerusalem and visit Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus and staying a few days in Sabastiya. The itinerary to be decided by the participants, Andree will organise bookings and local guides. If you are interested please email her at:  [email protected] would be around £800-£1,000 depending on what we do and where we stay.