First, we want all of you to know that the Nassar family is well. They send their heartfelt thanks to all of you who offered up prayers on their behalf as well as for all the Palestinians living in Gaza during the recent assault. I know that prayers were also offered up for the Israelis who have been working for peace in the region alongside their sisters and brothers of the Christian and Muslim faiths. To ensure that these most recent losses are neither forgotten nor wasted completely, please continue to contact your congressional representatives and senators and educate and encourage them to do the right thing. Now is the time to make an impact. We were all encouraged by the outpouring of messages from around the globe. The message: Let this insanity end – now! However, Gaza has been forgotten before; we must not let it happen again.
Even in this dark time, however, a little light shines on at Tent of Nations. The Nassar family continues to keep on working at what they do best: creating a peaceful sanctuary where sanity is maintained through hard work and creativity and music and dance and laughter and tears and hope. As two of our FOTONNA committee members traveled to the farm in November 2008, they were able to bear witness to what has been happening through the generosity of your gifts. They saw:
- Several more cisterns finally dug out (by hand for the most part; that backhoe still hasn’t become a viable purchase);
- Additional cave space carved out for meeting and sleeping places;
- More trees planted by a variety of international visitors;
- Very steep road leading into the farm from a major crossroads partially paved over – more paving to come;
- More visitors and short- and long-term volunteers being fed and housed; and,
- An ongoing spirit of hope and faith being nourished – food for the soul.
In ongoing conversations with Daoud, we have learned that:
- A new round of classes has started at the Women’s Center, with a volunteer adding Management to the classes already provided;
- Another new volunteer is helping Jihan with the English classes;
- More groups are expected from the US and other places to help plant trees and work the land;
- Students from Bethlehem Bible College are going to help teach classes and work on the land in a variety of situations as part of their educational plans;
- The solar project is still on, but getting the Israeli authorities to release the equipment has become a problem;
- It still has not rained – cisterns are empty and they will need to purchase more water from Nahalin (pray for rain);
- In travels to the UK, Daoud’s story has prompted a group to investigate setting up Friends of Tent of Nations United Kingdom – a non-profit group to provide support much as we do at FOTONNA;
- A friend of Daoud’s is willing to help teach farming techniques, over the next several months, to Palestinians who are interested in learning new ways to farm their land through a farming education project (starting with small groups and growing larger); and,
- Planning is already underway for the summer camps. If you think you have something to contribute to this endeavor, let Daoud know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These things are only the tip of the iceberg. Something is happening on the farm all the time that keeps the Nassar family members extremely busy (i.e., a windstorm damaged some of the tent fabric, so they need to repair that). Visitors are welcomed on a daily basis, and the more they learn, the better off the world is because of it. We will continue to keep you updated, and between issues of the Newsletter, you can always check the website for the latest news in case of emergencies that might arise.
UPCOMING NEEDS IN 2009 – EDUCATIONAL/FUNDRAISING TOURS
Daoud will be back for two Educational/Fundraising Tours in 2009 – late April/early May and TBD in the fall (most likely mid-October/November). In order to make these successful, we are soliciting ideas from all of you.
What is Needed:
1. Sponsors – Eight individuals/groups, each offering $200 to help pay for plane tickets from Amman, Jordan to NYC to DC and back home (needed for both spring and fall events);
2. Event Coordinators – Individuals/groups to plan and coordinate between six and eight events in their geographical area over a one-week period of time.
- Contact churches/mosques/synagogues, colleges/universities with Middle Eastern Studies programs, peace activist groups, etc. – schedule, advertise, motivate people to attend – ensure technical support for presentation – get Daoud on a local radio talk show or local TV show – get newspaper coverage
- Appoint someone to be Daoud’s companion for the week (provide room and board and transportation
- Be willing to speak out for the Fundraising aspect of the program (materials will be provided by FOTONNA)
- See if the groups could co-sponsor round-trip travel expenses from DC to _________
Pre-planning for these events is vital, and we will try to schedule Daoud based on first-come-first-served requests. Please contact Kay Plitt at email@example.com by the end of February for getting on the spring 2009 tour schedule and by the end of July 2009 for the fall tour schedule. We will update the website as we receive requests and plans unfold, and if you are living in the same area that a tour is planned for and you think you might help coordinate an event close by, please let us know – we’ll see what we can do. We can share the burden and make it lighter for everyone involved.
What Else You Can Do:
Even without Daoud there to tell his story, you can help by:
1. Seeing if your church has an outreach committee specifically for mission service. Ask them if they could name Tent of Nations as a recipient of an annual gift of $500 or more (FOTONNA can provide literature and information about the program);
2. Encouraging church and/or other groups to plan tours of the region with the Daher Vineyard as a specific stop on the tour;
3. Writing to Daoud at www.tentofnations.org to encourage him and let him know that the Nassar family is not forgotten and not alone in their struggle; and,
4. Continuing your financial support into 2009. As always, please use our Donation Form for the continuation of your support for this incredible family and its dream of Peace with Justice as they ‘walk the talk’ of their own convictions. Your donations make this all possible, and we continue to need your help to keep the dream alive.
If anyone is interested in helping out the Nassars directly with their legal fees (which FOTONNA cannot do), please contact Kay at firstname.lastname@example.org on how to do this. These fees are ongoing and growing, and any support that can be offered would be welcome. This support would not, of course, be tax deductible.
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2009 TOUR
As projected in the last Newsletter, Daoud conducted his third tour in the US during the months of October and November. While in the Metro Area, members of FOTONNA and Daoud visited once again with Representative Jim Moran’s office staff on the Hill. Rep. Moran represents a portion of Northern Virginia, and he has very actively spoken out for the Palestinian cause. We will continue to build a relationship with his office, as well as that of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, another supporter of Palestine.
- gave a detailed update/slideshow at Busboys and Poets in Arlington, VA to about 45 people who gathered in a show of solidarity;
- made a presentation at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD;
- met with people in the San Francisco/South Bay area making several presentations there, including St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Livermore, CA (which was organized by Gus and Margaret Nystrom) and a Pot Luck Dinner held at a private home in San Francisco (both organized in conjunction with Interfaith Peace Builders with the help of Jake Pace and Mike Daly);
- made a presentation at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Los Gatos, CA thanks to Julie Doyle;
- spoke, along with Mark Braverman, at the Tree of Life Conference held in Old Lyme, CT; and,
- attended a couple of informal events in Centerville, MA that Mark Braverman had arranged.
As the Nassar Family story is told and re-told, more people become educated and informed and interested in what’s happening not only at Tent of Nations, but also in what’s happening in a part of the world that is often only seen through stories of war and strife, prejudice and hatred. This story opens up eyes and minds and hearts all across the world to the possibility of Peace with Justice. As the fighting continues, we must remember that there are other options – other solutions – other ways to treat people with dignity that will bring true peace, lasting peace, deep peace to the people of this region. Thank you, all of you, who have joined in this effort in solidarity with the Nassars.AT THE END OF 2008
Last year we asked for money, and people were very generous. Thanks to all of you who were able to share your commitment to the Nassar Family. Below you will find a 2007/2008 report that will show how your donations were spent. (Additional funds totaling $5,000 were sent to the Nassars in January 2009, and $5,000 more will go for Tent of Nations projects in mid-February 2009.) If you have any questions, please email me at: email@example.com.
|Program Projects:||64.67 %|
|Travel and Ent.||14.16%*||(*1/3 covered by sponsorship support)|
|Licenses and Permits:||2.70%**||(**One-time expense)|
|Bank Service Charges:||2.60%**||(**One-time expense)|
|Printing and Publication:||2.42%|
|Postage and Delivery:||0.61%|
Balance of $16,390 as of 12/31/08.
MANY THANKS FROM: FOTONNA STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Daoud Nassar – Director of Operations
Bill Mims – Director of Projects and Planning
Steve France – Director of Communications
|Mark Braverman – Executive Director
Bill Plitt – Director of Community Outreach
Kay Plitt – Director of Finance
PERSONAL THANK YOU FROM DAOUD:
Dear Friends, We are glad to see the work of the Tent of Nations growing and bearing fruits. We want the Tent of Nations to be a light and a sign of hope for the ones who are losing their hope for a better future. It is wonderful to have Friends of Tent of Nations who are sharing the same vision with us and supporting the work we are doing. Thank you for your support, for keeping the spirit of the Tent of Nations high and for keeping hope alive. It is a big encouragement for the Tent of Nations to feel the support of people all over the world. Thank you all for this solidarity.