Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust

by Rebuilding Alliance
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust
Last year's Ramadan food box
Last year's Ramadan food box

As the COVID-19 crisis continues in the West Bank and Gaza goes into lockdown again, the importance of both medical relief and food for families is re-emphasized. In the Gaza Strip, cases are rising, and the British variant of the virus has been reported. At our weekly staff meeting that includes our coordinators in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank described what they're experiencing. One of our coordinators is a teacher in a Gaza school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. She said that all schools and non-essential businesses are closed, hospitals are full, and public transportation is shut down. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, she feels scared. With your donations, we are in the process of sending test kits to our NGO hospital partners and delivering food to families at home in time for Ramadan.

I am delighted to tell you the groceries that will fill the boxes for 600 families are being delivered to our partners this week.  In previous years, because of funds not coming in early enough, the partners scrambled to deliver boxes for Eid, which is the celebration that takes place at the end of Ramadan. However, your donations during the Little by Little campaign this past March helped us prepare much sooner. Thank you! 

A food box will have a 2 week supply of food and a box of face masks costing about $65 total. One of our partners, Al Amal Society, is encouraging us to adopt a new process to find vendors. They put an ad in the newspaper calling for vendors to submit bids. The ad also informs the local community of the Ramadan food delivery. By doing this, the community becomes aware of the good work of Rebuilding Alliance and their partners, and Al Amal receives competitive quotes for high-quality food. A win-win!

As for our two NGO hospital partners, Ahli Arab Hospital and Al Awda Hospital, Rebuilding Alliance is purchasing 3,000 rapid antigen test kits from the American company, Innova, thanks in part to an unrestricted $15,000 COVID Relief grant won from GlobalGiving. As we establish our track record and more donors give, we will also be able to provide test kits to a third NGO hospital partner in the South, Al Kuwaiti Hospital. As part of the process to deliver the kits to hospitals, Rebuilding Alliance has applied to obtain a donation waiver from both Israeli and Palestinian governments to avoid an 18% customs fee. As far as we can tell, the rapid antigen test kits that we're buying are a dollar less per unit than what others are paying. Also, we're in talks with a German company that tentatively offered to donate 900 tests kits after getting approval from their management.

You likely share our concern about Israel's decision not to provide the vaccine to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. We hope to present a panel at the RightsCon International Summit: Creating a Shared Response COVID-19 Coalition. Mutually Assured Survival demands inclusive, coordinated, and responsive vaccine distribution and more. Drawing upon the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force in the U.S., we explore how Israel and Palestine can work together in a Shared Response to COVID-19 Coalition to address urgent, tangible, inter-related issues (e.g., testing, PPE, ventilation) to assure safety and survival.

We look forward to sending you photos of the food boxes and test kits soon. Ramadan Kareem to those who celebrate. We're so grateful to all of you for caring about Palestinian families' health and well-being. We're honored to realize those intentions.

Contents of this year's box-food & a box of masks
Contents of this year's box-food & a box of masks
Partners packing the boxes last year
Partners packing the boxes last year

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Rebuilding Alliance recently cosponsored a virtual townhall with American Muslims for Palestine featuring Congressman Mark Pocan. Among other things, the townhall addressed how COVID-19 is impacting Gaza hospitals. The General Director of Al Awda Hospital (part of the Union of Healthcare Workers Committees), Dr. Ahmed Mhanna, was one of the featured speakers. Al Awda Hospital is one of our NGO partners. Thanks to your donations, they received PPE's, COVID-19 test kits, and medicines before the outbreak in August.

Watch the Townhall

In February, Representatives Pocan and Dingell led a letter to Secretary Pompeo urging him to restore aid to Gaza, which includes medical aid. Although Rebuilding Alliance has the support of many generous and caring people like you, we can't support Gaza hospitals in a vacuum. Medical aid from the U.S. would make an immense difference in all COVID-19 relief efforts, including Rebuilding Alliance's. Our next step is to brainstorm with the other groups doing Palestinian COVID relief efforts who are based around our area in Redwood City, California. It would be useful to combine our responses now in this time of emergency.

Thank you so much for your support. If you have any questions or suggestions, please let us know at contact@rebuildingalliance.org.

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30 min blood tests to identify COVID-19 antibodies
30 min blood tests to identify COVID-19 antibodies

The COVID-19 outbreak in Gaza neighborhoods was first reported on August 25th, and on August 31st, through the mediation of Qatar, Israel stopped bombing Gaza and allowed shipments of fuel while the Gaza government promised to stop the launch of incendiary helium balloons.  When the outbreak happened, the whole Gaza Strip was immediately put under emergency curfew leaving families without electricity, and therefore without water, most without food, in the summer heat. Now, the pandemic is raging in the Northern and Gaza Governorates (Gaza City area north) which are under strict stay-at-home curfew while the middle and South (Rafah area) are allowed to go out from 8am-8pm. 

As of today, Sep. 9th, 27,919 cases of COVID-19 have been identified in the West Bank and Gaza with another 8,295 cases in E. Jerusalem. Israel has 137,565 cases and the numbers are rising in both Israel and Palestine. Today, there were 140 new cases reported in the City of Jerusalem, 102 in the Hebron Governorate, and 87 in the Gaza Strip.  From Ministry of Health reports, Gaza was testing less than 1% of the population each day — so there’s no way to know the scale of the outbreak. Everyone fears that with 6000 people per square km, the virus can spread like wildfire.
                    ______________________________________________

We know how deeply you care and how much you want to help — and we ask you to hold those thoughts till next week when the GlobalGiving Little by Little Bonus WEEK begins. 

Starting at 9am ET on Monday, Sep. 14th till 11:59 ET on Friday, Sep. 18th, GlobalGiving will be matching each donation up to $50.00 by 50% — and what's more, GG will match recurring donations after 4 consecutive payments up to $200.  Please mark your calendar to give, starting at 9am ET on Sep 14th.  Please share this link, https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/palestine-emergency/ with friends to give them the opportunity to give too.

                   ______________________________________________

So far, our Palestine, We Care: COVID-19 Relief Trust has raised $98,110 USD. Over half this amount was matched by a 1:1 matching grant from the Taawon Foundation, allowing us to grant a total of $135,000 to eight Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) in the West Bank and Gaza. These grants supplied:

  • PPE’s, COVID-19 testing kits, and medicines to two NGO hospitals in Gaza, the Ahli Arab Hospital and the Al Awda Hospital, and
  • Over 900 food boxes and hygiene supplies to families in Gaza through our four partner NGOs there, and two new partner NGOs in the South Hebron Hills and in Bethlehem.

To see more about our PPE and food distribution, please watch the two short films linked to this report. 

We want to tell you more about the COVID-19 Rapid Test Kits and how they are being used. 

Al Awda Hospital ordered 505 COVID-19 IgG/IgM rapid test kits that provide results in 30 minutes. The test kits made it through the blockade and arrived in time at Al Awda Hospital, about a month before the outbreak. Those kits and the PPE's are now making it possible for Al Awada Hospital to provide emergency, urgent surgeries and maternity services as the main maternity hospital in the northern region of the Gaza Strip — all this while keeping their staff safe.

A quick google search describes the IgG/IgM rapid test as 'a blood test designed to detect antibodies (immunoglobulins, IgG and IgM) against the coronavirus that causes the disease called COVID-19. Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system in response to an infection and are specific to that particular infection. They are found in the liquid part of blood specimens, which is called serum or plasma, depending on the presence of clotting factors. IgM and IgG may either be ordered together or separately.

Having an antibody test is helpful if:

  • your health care provider believes you may have been exposed to the coronavirus which causes COVID19 based on your current or previous signs and symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, difficulty breathing);
  • you live in or have recently traveled to a place where transmission of COVID-19 is known to occur;
  • you have been in close contact with an individual suspected of or confirmed to have COVID-19; or
  • you have recovered from COVID-19.


Haneen Wishah, External Relations and Reporting Officer for Al Awda Hospital, explained how they are keeping staff and patients safe: 

"Al Awda Hospital requires an IgG and Igm test for every patient who arrives at the triage point with signs of infection, e.g. with fever.  Each test requires that we draw blood and then process the samples at our laboratory here at Al Awda Hospital.  Patients testing positive are transferred to the central lab of the Ministry of Health for a nasal COVID-19 PCR test."

"When the COVID-19 emergency was first announced in Gaza, we at Al Awda Hospital divided our staff into four groups with each group staying over at the hospital for 10 days and nights straight. They can't go home. We test each member of our staff team when they first arrive, midway after 5 days, and when they finish the 10 days and are ready to go back home."

So what's needed next?

From Haneen, "The thing is, we have the staff all together for 10 consecutive days. We ask your help to:

  • Provide healthy meals to the healthcare workers, with lots of fruit and vegetables to strengthen their immune systems; 
  • Please send 2000 rapid test kits, a four-fold increase; and
  • A new round of PPE's including 6000 head shields is needed.

Meanwhile, our Social Service NGOs ask your help to deliver food and hygiene boxes to 200 families each, focusing on families with disabled, and women-run households.

These are important, big goals.  We can do this.  Please set your alarm for giving on September 14-18th, and please ask friends to join us.

Al Awda Hospital drawing blood to test for COVID19
Al Awda Hospital drawing blood to test for COVID19
Really great: the Rapid test kits crossed blockade
Really great: the Rapid test kits crossed blockade
Medical supplies arrived!
Medical supplies arrived!
Masks and more masks
Masks and more masks
Now the streets are empty, Gaza in lockdown
Now the streets are empty, Gaza in lockdown

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Staff at Al Awda Hospital try on their new PPEs
Staff at Al Awda Hospital try on their new PPEs

Dear Friend,

We're honored and proud to announce a new partnership with Taawon (Welfare Foundation). They have matched your donation, dollar for dollar, and enabled us to give double the medical supplies to our NGO hospital partners and feed double the families, and do so starting this week, in the holy month of Ramadan. The $54,000 contributed via GlobalGiving is now a grant totaling $108,000!

 

"We are very happy today to have gained a new partner with whom our cooperation commences in jointly fighting the COVID-19 virus in Gaza by providing the health sector in Gaza with supplies and aiding the marginalized families with food during the holy month of Ramadan,” said Yara Salem, Director General of Taawon.

Rebuilding Alliance's two NGO hospital partners are receiving PPE’s, COVID-19 test kits, medicines, and supplies. Founded in 1882, the Al Ahli Arab Hospital (the National Arab Hospital), a Christian hospital under the care of the Anglican Church, is Gaza's oldest hospital. Al Awda Hospital (The Return Hospital), run by the Union of Healthcare Workers Committees, serves over a quarter of the population of the Gaza Strip. In addition, a requirement we included in our agreement with Taawon is that our program must buy masks & protective suits from Gaza factories. This helps to provide jobs in an economy suffering from chronic unemployment now over 60%; Gaza’s economy has been devastated by a 14-year blockade—the longest in human history.

800 families in need will be given food baskets that contain two weeks worth of food and soap too. Handwashing with soap breaks down the COVID-19 virus.

For food distribution, our long-term partners are the Women's Programs Center-Rafah, Youth Vision Society, the Al Basma Club for the Disabled, and the Al Amal Society for Rehabilitation. Each NGO partner chooses their list of families in need, comparing with lists developed by each municipality to be sure that everyone is treated fairly.  Taawon has asked that Al Amal Society for Rehabilitation be the one designated to purchase all the foodstuffs and deliver to the other three.  Each of the four will distribute to their own list of 200 families in need. Rebuilding Alliance did this food program with the partners last year and the year before, distributing a total of 600 baskets. They always do an amazing job.

If you haven't yet, please watch the video of our first report where you can meet staff of Ahli Arab and Al Awda Hospital as well as Unipal, the Gaza manufacturer of protective suits and masks.

Rebuilding Alliance is grateful for your outpouring of support. The groundswell of donations we received in GlobalGiving's LittleXLittle campaign attracted Taawon's interest and we worked hard to close a partnering agreement that has the support of all our local NGO partners in Gaza and is also in full compliance with all U.S. laws and rules. Taawon is a two-time Mahatma Gandhi Award winner that invests $50 million annually in programs that benefit 1 million Palestinians. Their partnerships include the British Council, the Islamic Development Bank, and the Lutheran World Federation. We're proud to be in such illustrious company.

Your donation made this possible. Now we get to do even more.

P.S. Would you like to help raise more funds for this program?  We've formed a Whatsapp group to support one another in creative fundraising for the Palestine, We Care COVID-19 Relief Trust.  You can do this from home and interact directly with our team in the U.S. and in Gaza  -  Apply here

The food being delivered to 800 families this week
The food being delivered to 800 families this week
Our first batch of PPEs, delivered to Al Awda Hosp
Our first batch of PPEs, delivered to Al Awda Hosp

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Rebuilding Alliance

Location: Redwood City, CA - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @RebuildAll
Project Leader:
Donna Baranski-walker
Executive Director
Redwood City, CA United States
$166,637 raised of $170,000 goal
 
1,976 donations
$3,363 to go
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