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Update from Gaza

March 2009

With thanks in part to $80,000 dollars in generous donations made to Grassroots International in response to the Gaza Crisis, our partners in Palestine have begun the process of rebuilding their communities.

Grassroots International staffer Salena Tramel and board member Marie Kennedy are just completing a historic delegation to Gaza co-sponsored by Grassroots International and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, along with other peace groups*.  The delegation celebrated International Women’s Day (March 8th) and subsequent days by meeting with community organizations in Gaza, including our partner organizations the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC), and Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP).

Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, and member of the delegation says, “I feel that what is happening in the Middle East is very important because the situation is so volatile … It’s very important that they [Americans] understand what is happening, and that we hold our own administration accountable.”

The delegation, which was invited to Gaza by the Gender Initiative of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA), delivered more than 1,000 gift baskets to Gazan women as part of their message of peace and call for an open border with Egypt.

To read more about the delegation, click here.

Below is a brief description of what Grassroots’ partners have been doing since the Israeli invasion of Gaza:

Palestinian Medical Relief Society
Up until and following the ceasefire, PMRS has been distributing water, first aid, and mattresses to displaced Gazans as well as providing psychological services.  PMRS has also been providing first aid training courses and their health clinics, which have remained open during the crisis, continue to service the surrounding communities.

Palestinian Center for Human Rights
Since the ceasefire, PCHR has been publishing personal testimonies about the aftermath of the 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip.  They continue to issue press releases highlighting the civilian reality in the region, their most recent release focusing on the threats facing Palestinian women.

Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees
Following the destruction of their facilities and many of their urban rooftop garden projects, PARC began organizing with other grassroots organizations in order to provide non-food stuff aid to surrounding communities.  They have also provided hospital kitchens with food relief from their remaining resources and have begun the process of rebuilding agricultural infrastructure.

Gaza Community Mental Health Program
GCMHP’s operations were suspended following the destruction of their main headquarters by bombs on December 30th, 2008.  They are currently trying to rebuild in order to resume their work.

Grassroots International continues to accept donations to our partners in Gaza.  To make a donation, click here.

*Additional co-sponsors of the International Women’s Day delegation to Gaza:
National Congress of Black Women, Global Exchange, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, American Muslim Voice, and Women’s Intercultural Network.

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