Daoud making a presentation at Trinity Episcopal Church
Friends of Tent of Nations North America (FOTONNA) was founded as an all-volunteer charitable corporation in November 2007 for the purpose of supporting the work of Tent of Nations (TON). Daoud Nassar travels to the U.S. twice a year to share his story and that of the TON. One of the things FOTONNA does is organize these visits with significant help from individuals in local communities.
Organizing a tour with FOTONNA and Daoud takes at least four or five months of detailed planning. The goal is to have as many venues as possible within a common area or two of the U.S. (and/or Canada) so that travel time and expenses are kept to a minimum. If you check our Latest Tour Update information, you can see how effectively this can be done.
There are certain guidelines that we like to adhere to, including the following:
Types of Venues to Consider
- Colleges and Universities – If you can identify schools that have Peace and Justice majors, Middle East Studies classes or Conflict Management courses, then contact the faculty members who are teaching these courses; they are always looking for individuals to make presentations who have first-hand knowledge or experience of their subject matter.
- Local Churches – Many churches have committees dedicated to Middle East or Peace and Justice Issues and want to invite new voices to be heard on these questions.
- Seminaries – You will find that seminarian students studying the history of the Holy Land are full of questions and are looking for answers.
- Peace and Justice Groups – These more formal groups are growing and can be found almost everywhere.
- Fundraising Events – There will often be individuals who are willing to organize private fundraisers in their home community; this is always welcome.
- Outside Event – Being a part of an already-organized conference on Peace Issues in the Middle East in your area is also a way to be seen and heard by a larger community of people. Keep an eye out for anything like this being planned in your area in the spring or fall.
We have never turned down an opportunity to speak due to financial support being unavailable. As an all-volunteer organization, however, it is important to know that we will be able to cover the costs of the speaking tour, provide a guest speaker fee for Daoud, and, where possible, make a contribution to the activities of the TON. Therefore, we ask for the following financial/in-kind commitments from those who are helping to coordinate the venues on the speaking tour.
- Speaker Fee of $500 Per Venue – We recognize that some venues may be small, have fewer resources than others, or for other reasons may be unable to make such a contribution; however, for those venues which have the means, we expect them to meet this commitment (or more). Again, we do not turn down any invitation that is reasonable.
- A Portion of the Cost of Daoud’s International Airfare – This cost will be shared by all venues equally (usually amounts to very little as his air fare averages out to be about $1,100).
- A Portion of the Cost of Domestic Air Travel – This travel is usually round-trip from the East Coast to the tour area and also covers the travel costs/air fare of one or two of the FOTONNA Steering Committee members who travel with Daoud. This cost, of course, will vary widely but will never be a deal-breaker.
- In-kind Coverage – Hosts need to provide (or find local volunteers who can provide) housing, meals and local transportation for Daoud and the FOTONNA members who travel with Daoud.
Possible Ways to Cover the Costs of a Visit
- Local faith communities and their related agencies, synods, conferences or foundations which award grants for peace-making activities have been pleased to co-sponsor such visits.
- If the venue is appropriate for a “free will” offering, this could be indicated on publicity and a request for donations can be made at the event itself.
- Some locations have hosted a dinner and presentation for which they charge a nominal amount and the proceeds go to TON.
- Institutions of higher education may have several departments that can make a combined contribution for car rental, for example.
FOTONNA’s Role in Providing Support to Groups and Individuals in the Organization and Implementation of the Tour
- PDF’s of a sample flier for purposes of marketing the event are provided to you for your adaptation and use.
- A brochure (either paper copy or electronic copy) about TON and FOTONNA is available before the tour as a means of explaining the work of both organizations. We also bring copies with us on the tour.
- Sample articles from local newspapers or other media outlets can be provided on request.
- Our Tour Coordinator works with local venues and individuals to clarify the details for a successful, well-organized visit, and provides a detailed itinerary to the primary organizers.
- Book Order Forms will be available for those who wish to receive complimentary copies of available books for donations: Daher’s Vineyard – Tent of Nations: My Father’s Dream ($15) is a short story that describes the family’s journey and the historical circumstances which have given rise to the current situation in Palestine/Israel. You could pre-order the book for use in a study class in preparation for the visit. Other books have been printed based on classes taught at the Bent Al-reef Women’s Education Center: Palestinian Recipe Book ($10) and Where I Am From… (poetry booklet – $4 for three-language version and $8 for nine-language version). A group in the Netherlands has published We Refuse to be Enemies – Tent of Nations ($8) which is full of lovely photos along with the Nassar family story.
- We also recommend that you visit tentofnations.org for more insight into the activities of TON on the ground. Here is a brief synopsis.
What is Tent of Nations?
The Tent of Nations was established in 2001-2002 by the Nassar family on Daher’s Vineyard, land purchased outside of Bethlehem by their grandfather Daher Nassar in 1916. Daoud Nassar is the Director of TON, whose mission is to build bridges of understanding between people and between people and the land.
This family is one of the last Christian Palestinian families living and working in the fertile hill country six miles southwest of Bethlehem in the West Bank. In 1991, the government of Israel declared the Nassar farm to be “state land”. The family has been in the Military Courts of the Occupied Territories as well as the Supreme Court of Israel with the documents which prove their ownership of this land. So far, the struggle to save their land has cost the family over $200,000, and the outcome is still uncertain.
In the midst of this uncertainty, the Nassar family, along with international volunteers from around the world, has established projects to develop and protect the land and to make the land a center for people from different countries, cultures and religions to come together and build bridges of trust – and hope – and peace. Through their work with women from a nearby village, and with youth and families from refugee camps in and around Bethlehem, non-violent approaches to peace are put into practice, and their motto, “We refuse to be enemies”, is lived out.
If you are interested in learning more about how to help with a tour program, please contact our Tour Coordinator, Beth Moore, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.