Dear Friends, This will be an update on the following items:

EASTER GREETINGS FROM DAOUD:

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I hope my message to you finds you well and in good health during these uncertain times as Covid-19 paves its way rapidly across our communities and societies affecting our daily lives, altering social, political and economic structures, and introducing fear and panic amongst all. It is of big important to stand together in the spirit of solidarity these days to support, encourage and look out for one another as we all go through this dark tunnel.

Apart from the continuous political, social, and economic pressures we are facing in Palestine, Covid-19 has recently found its way to the city of Bethlehem and managed to spread out to various cities in Palestine. Bethlehem, as an example, has been under lockdown for a month now following the declaration of state of emergency as soon as the first Covid-19 case was detected, which required people to remain indoors, introduced limitations on movement, and caused for public spaces to immediately shut down in order to stop the virus from spreading out.

At this time, going from Bethlehem to the Tent of Nations is not as easy since most roads are closed and people are not permitted to move freely. In addition to that, all of our short-term and long-term volunteers, as well as many visiting groups who were planning to come in March, April and in the next following months had to cancel, which will also affect us economically. Currently, there is a lot that needs to be done on the farm from planting to ploughing, which we could not also carry out and had to postpone due to the current situation.

In such depressing times, we shall find our comfort and strength in our Lord by welcoming Him into our hearts, minds and souls. During this Holy Week, we shall commemorate the unconditional love that has been sent to us by God through Jesus Christ. On Holy Thursday, we shall remember the sign of love and humility as Jesus Christ washed the feet of His disciples before the Last Supper. On Good Friday, we shall remember Jesus Christ’s passion, crucifixion, sacrifice, and death for the sins of mankind offering us a new beginning. Many had thought that the cross was the end of the story, including the disciples of Jesus, and that all hopes had died with Jesus on the cross; however, the cross was not the end, it was the path to resurrection and into a new life where death was not the final word. It is the proclamation of Jesus Christ’s victory over death, in which we commemorate and celebrate on Easter Sunday.

Today, as we go through this difficult time facing hopeless situations, we should always remember that we are the people of hope; we are the people of the resurrection, we need to stand up, wash away this victim mentality, renew our strength, and become again the ‘salt of the earth’ and ‘the light of the world.’ 

Dear friends, the dark clouds of Good Friday brought showers of rain watering the ground. They brought hope and new life in preparation for the LIGHT on the day of resurrection. This is the good news of the resurrection.

 HE is not here for HE is risen!

Happy Easter.

Stay safe and healthy,

Daoud Nassar & Family

Note from Bill Plitt:

Dear Friends,

We have been in contact with Daoud almost daily of late, as we exchange our hopes, fears and prayers for one another – his family and my own.  I am sure I express the concerns, too, of all of us at FOTONNA when I do so.

In general, the family is safe, able to travel to the farm on a pass that sister Amal has for her work at the Caritas Children’s Hospital.  They are able to feed the livestock, so Molly the mule is being taken care of.  We have reluctantly postponed the US Spring 2020 Tour to 2021 due to the spread of the virus; we will probably not have a Fall 2020 Tour either.  Daoud would most likely be unable to leave Bethlehem, even by then, and most of our tour sites would likely also be under quarantine-type circumstances.  I have decided not to take my annual trip to I/P in late April/early May because of the same reasoning.  I will miss that aspect of my work, as my visits are often a reigniting of my spirit and love for our work together that inspires me for the coming year – “Go and See, Come and Tell.”  You know the experience.

Bill Plitt – FOTONNA

Update from Daoud – 3/21/20:

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for all what you do for the Tent of Nations.  Thank you for your standing with us during this very difficult time we are going through.  The situation is getting more difficult all over.

It is great to see the continuous moral and financial support for the Tent of Nations.  This will help us to continue with our mission and the work we are doing.

As you all know, we are under curfew.  It is difficult to leave the house.  We are still able to get to the farm on a daily basis.  All visitor groups have cancelled their visit for March and April; we were expecting 43 groups with 984 people from the US and Europe.  Volunteers who were planning to stay 2-3 months at the Tent of Nations wanted to come in March but had to cancel their trip, also.  This is the first time since 2002 that we don’t have any volunteers staying on the farm this time of year.

I always say, we are people of hope and we will keep this hope alive.

Please stay healthy and safe.  We keep you all in our daily thoughts and prayers.

Please continue to pray, especially for the people in Gaza.

Blessings and Love to you all –

Daoud and Family

(For a little lightness in all the darkness:  We were arranging for a phone call with Daoud and he checked his calendar, seeing that he had a tour group planned for the day we proposed.  “Well,” he said, “I see that I am free that day after all.”  Those of us on the call had to laugh through the tears of reality.  And, that is the way that this remarkable family gets through their daily travails – laughter through the tears.  What an incredible privilege and pleasure it is to work with their spirit of faith, love and hope.  – Kay Plitt)

Financial Picture:

I think you, like us, are getting requests from all over the place for funds to help provide support for worthy causes as so many people and non-profits are in desperate need of dollars because of the coronavirus impact on their lives.  Daoud, as usual, does not want this to be a fundraising letter due to the sometimes disastrous financial situation so many people now find themselves in.  Tours to the farm are being cancelled, of course, which means a large loss of revenue for the family; Daoud estimates that the lost funds total nearly $16,000 for the months of March-April.  We will re-assess the situation at the end of May, at which time we may, indeed, need to do a fundraising letter.  We will also look at the funds currently on hand that are designated for projects that may not be able to be completed this year.  We will keep you in the loop if those funds need to be diverted to replace lost revenue for the family.

Daoud does not concentrate on the financial losses, however, and always says that the priority is to share the story – to educate people to the reality of living under Occupation.  The virus has put a stop to all of those face-to-face encounters, of course.  It would be helpful, though, if you would share the family’s story through your network of friends; ask them to visit the Tent of Nations website and get an online picture of the farm and what it stands for.  Tell your personal story if you have visited the farm; share your pictures.  Make use of all that free time (joking, of course) you now have to reach out and let your friends know about this lovely family and its determination to stand up for justice in spite of all the obstacles thrown in front of them.  They stand up for all Palestinians on the premise that right wins out over might.  It would be great if you could stand up arm-in-arm with them – virtually, of course! Peace – stay safe – stay strong – K

Thanks for joining us. Peace – stay safe – stay strong – Kay Plitt – FOTONNA Director of Finance/Communications

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