Letter from Palestine #4

Long-time readers here at Creating the Future have come to know Nora Lester Murad, who has graciously shared her Letters from Palestine here from time to time.

As war rages between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, I know you will want to know how Nora and her family are doing. Here is what she told me this morning:

It’s just terrible. Indescribable. Inhuman.

My husband was supposed to leave for Gaza this morning (he goes every other week), but obviously he can’t go now. He’s next to me, just calling people one after the other. They are so scared. Bombs are exploding around them. They can’t go to the store to get food, and anyway, the stores are closed. No electricity, water. Frightening.

We all just pray it will stop soon, but all indications are that it will not. What will it take for the world to cry out?

Thanks for asking about us. (And thanks for your contribution.) It really means a lot.

This is what it is like to live in a war zone. It is not about who is politically right or wrong, or who started bombing first. It is about real people trying to live real lives.

That is why, as the year draws to a close, I am going to do something I have never used this blog to do. I am going to ask you to please help Nora’s organization – Dalia Association – by clicking here to donate. Even just $10 will help.

If you are not familiar with Dalia Association, they are Palestine’s only community foundation, working to build strong communities from inside Palestine, without the external political agendas that so often accompany “international aid.”

To share why I am so passionate about the work they are doing, I want to share the following, quoted from their annual letter:

Imagine thousands of Palestinians in villages, refugee camps and cities, with tremendous ideas and energy, taking initiative to improve their local communities and the world. It shouldn’t be hard to imagine because, in fact, this happens every single day.

Unfortunately, many of these grassroots community groups are not as effective as they could be. They often lack sufficient expertise and funds, or they get exhausted working under the challenges of occupation and colonization.

These groups deserve an advocate to believe in them, fight for them, advise them, and work alongside them. Dalia Association is that advocate.

As the first and only Palestinian community foundation, Dalia Association helps grassroots community groups to mobilize their own resources and capacities. We network them to experts and donors. We provide small scale funding, whenever possible. We coach them to improve the quality and professionalism of their work. We teach them how to become more sustainable, and we work for the sustainability of the civil society sector as a whole.

In the year 2008, we:
• helped an informal women’s group turn their $7,000 idea into a proposal for a $70,000 beauty salon to train and employ village women – and we secured funding from a donor.
• published research arguing that popular participation in development is a right enshrined in international law, a right which is not being respected by the international aid system.
• facilitated an innovative grant making program in which villagers decided themselves how to invest development resources.
• conducted many financial sustainability assessments and fundraising consultations at no cost to community-based organizations.
• began a project to highlight the creative ways that Palestinians engage in philanthropy in order to dispel the myth that Palestinians are receivers not givers.
• took part in meetings in the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, the United States, and Brazil, putting Palestine on the global philanthropic agenda.

We did this, and much more, because we believe that a thriving civil society is critical to Palestinian social change and sustainable development. And we believe Palestinian civil society can’t thrive as long as it is dependent on international aid.

But the success of Dalia Association is not at all assured. If we want to reduce dependence on international aid, we need every single Palestinian and every friend of Palestinians to become a donor. Your creative ideas, volunteerism, in-kind support, and encouragement have kept us going until now, but we also need money. Every $10, $100 or $1,000 matters. We know how to make a little money go a long way.

With your continued support we are enabling Palestinian-led social change and sustainable development today and for future generations.

We all know from experience around the world that building strong communities is a deterrent to terrorism, violence and war. As we sit and watch the horrors on the TV news, feeling helpless to do anything for those who are fearing for their own survival as their communities are being destroyed, Dalia Association is working every day to build strength in those communities.

In this horrible time of war, in a place where community-building will be such a key to peace-making, please join me in supporting the work of Dalia Association, where truly, every dollar will make a huge difference.

To read the next post in this series, head here.

3 Responses to Letter from Palestine #4

  1. As a long time supporter of your amazing work, I’ve been somewhat hesistant to reply to this latest blog post. If you are truly supportive of the idea of Community Benefit Organizations versus nonprofit organizations, then you should talk about not just one piece of the community, but the whole of the community. As you talk about the horrific life the citizens of Palestine experience, you should also talk about the horrific life the citizens of Israel also endure. It is always the common-folk citizens who take the brunt of the government’s power struggles, and that is a true shame. But please when you tell the stories of the struggles of one group and neglect to tell the stories about the struggles of the other group, you are contributing to the misinformation, ignorance and hatred that seem to fuel these conflicts. Please paint the whole picture so we can truly move toward a better and more humane community.

  2. Janice:
    I would love to tell that story. In fact, I would love to share the stories of anyone who is using vision-based, possibility-based, strength-based approaches to building community when all they see around them is war.

    The point of sharing Nora’s stories has never been to take sides. The point has always been to share humanity between people around the world who are working to build strong communities. It is one thing to talk about who is right and who is wrong. It is quite another to see through the eyes of someone who is doing that work against all odds.

    So if anyone knows someone working inside a war-torn area, where the struggle to just live everyday life seems insurmountable and yet they continue to do their work to build their community from the ground up, please have them contact me directly!

    And thanks for raising the question, Janice!

  3. Thanks, Hildy, for bringing us the posts from Nora about the Dahlia Association. I respectfully differ with Janice – the stories we hear in the media are predominantly from the Israeli perspective. Israel does not allow the press to enter Gaza, so we have no opportunity to hear what might be objective reporting. There is little published in the U.S. about the Palestinian experience and less with any positive perspective about Palestinians. I greatly appreciate hearing about the positive work of the Dahlia Association and the challenges being addressed. Best, Rae