Summer/Fall 2015 Newsletter
September 14, 2015 – Summer/Fall Newsletter
NOTE FROM DAOUD:
It has been a while since you’ve last heard from us, but we are still here working hard to achieve justice. We would like to share with you the latest news about the Tent of Nations farm, the legal situation, the challenges on the ground, but also about our hope and desire to keep moving forward in a very difficult political reality.
The political situation is getting more difficult. Land confiscation is going on and on for building new settlements and/or expanding the existing ones. The wall is continuing to be built, especially now in the Bethlehem area, and it is separating farmers from their own land. The settlements around the Tent of Nations farm are also expanding, making the Palestinian villages more isolated. According to the Settlement Watch article published on 7/23/15, the sub-committee for settlements for the higher planning committee of the military’s civil administration met on 7/22/15 and approved the construction of a religious school (Yeshiva) near Neve Daniel Settlement. This is located on land very close to the Tent of Nations near where the road is blocked. If this would happen, the Tent of Nations would become even more isolated, which means more challenges for us.
Last February, the Supreme Court sent our case again to the Military Committee and, for the second time, demanded us to start a new process of reregistration of our land. We had to prepare the documents and a new land survey. The application was submitted on April 20, 2015. Today, we are still waiting for an answer.
Recently, we found another demolishing order for a cistern. It is a frustrating situation for us, especially when we see the settlements are expanding and at the same time we have difficulties and restrictions working on our own land that we have owned since 1916.
We heard that new trees are also threatened to be uprooted, and we are trying to stop that legally. We have to go through this very dark tunnel but still believe that at the end justice will prevail.
We will keep you updated regarding any urgent development about the land issue as well as the building of the new religious school close to the road block. Please do not take any action unless you hear from us. We will inform you if, when and what kind of actions are needed.
During the winter months, we prepared a big area of land and planted it with trees. We are glad that we were able to plant 4,000 new trees and replaced the ones that been destroyed last year. We will keep planting trees as a sign of hope for a better future.
The Lone Fig Tree is no longer alone! May 2015 New Olive Tree encased in plastic until it can thrive
New Grape Trees 2015
The 1972 Orange VW still runs!
We are watering the newly planted trees once a week just to keep a bit of humidity in the ground to help the trees survive the hot months. We might have to buy water.
We have already prepared another area of land for tree planting. Our plan is to plant 3,000 grape trees this coming October. The plan is to be able to produce more grape juice and syrup. By increasing the farm production, our goal is to make the farm self-sustainable.
Special thanks to all people who sponsored and/or planted trees. Thank you so much in helping to keep hope alive.
Usually in June we have the apricot and the apple harvest, but last June we had no harvest because of the destruction of our fruit trees in May 2014. In July, we had the almond harvest, but it was a bad harvest this year. Today is the last day of the grape harvest. We are making jam and grape syrup out of the grapes. The fig harvest is still going on in September, and by the end of October, we will have the olive harvest. Our farm shop will be full of products from the farm.
Special thanks to all volunteers who came from different countries and helped us during the harvest season.
We started developing a better infrastructure for the animals. A new fence is being built around the animal farm, and we will buy more chickens, goats and sheep to increase the productivity. The animal farm also serves other purposes, especially during our children summer camps when the children learn about animals and how to care for them.
Last spring, the solar power system was expanded; new panels were installed as well as a new invertor. Now the system is producing 10 KW of electricity, which is enough for now. The only thing is that we couldn’t add new batteries to the existing old ones, but we will wait until the old ones have to be replaced in order to buy more new batteries. We still have a plan to install small wind mills for generating electricity and to charge the batteries during the night. After we stopped using our Diesel generator in 2009, we managed to save more than $45,000 for fuel expenses. Special thanks to all sponsors who helped in this project that made the farm totally independent in terms of energy.
Each year, we have been increasing our rain water collection capacity in order to have enough water for agriculture. We are working now on adding more water collection capacity in order to become independent in terms of water.
We renovated a new cave to be used to host more volunteers on the farm. Another one in the valley is under renovations as well as our new campsite with a space for a big tent, a sitting place and an outside kitchen.
We are still working on renovating the new community room for volunteers. Children decorated the walls with mosaic and wonderful paintings during the children’s summer camp in July.
The filtration system and biofuel project are still not completed. Those kinds of projects will help the farm to be self-sustainable in the near future.
The Children’s Summer Camp – July 2015
From the 20th until the 31st of July we had our fourteenth Children’s Summer Camp under the title: With heart and hand, we change the land. We had 25 international and local volunteers who worked with the children from the Bethlehem area.
The Brass for Peace group also participated, and children made music on brass instruments. With this camp, and through creative workshops, our goal was to let the children discover their talents, focus on their positives and believe in themselves that they are able to shape their future.
On the last day of the camp, we invited the parents and friends to see what their kids were doing during the summer camp. Children were showing their parents around, and the parents were encouraged by their own children. Special thanks to all volunteers who came and helped in making our Children’s Summer Camp very successful.
Bent Al-Reef Women’s Project
The Bent Al-Reef Women’s Project finished its year at the end of June. It was great to see the fruits of the work that Jihan and other volunteers have been doing. Many activities were done, like English, computer and other educational classes, as well as art workshops. They worked also on recycling plastic bags, crocheting them into purses, bags and baskets, as well as recycling broken glass into stained glass art pieces. The idea is to raise more awareness about environmental issues and to encourage those women to be active in taking better care of the environment.
The project started again on the 7th of September 2015 after three months of summer break.
Guest Groups and Volunteers
Between March and August 2015, we welcomed many volunteers from different countries who came to spend some time helping on different projects. A special thanks to all who came and offered their time to help.
Last week, we had to say goodbye to Johannes and Simon from Germany who spent a year on the farm, living in a cave and helping for a year. We appreciate the presence and the help of volunteers very much.
Volunteers are always welcome to come and help. For more information about volunteering at the Tent of Nations, please check our website www.tentofnations.org .
In the last few months, many visitors came to see the Tent of Nations, to hear its story and challenges and also to learn about hope in action. It is an encouragement to see the number of visitor groups is increasing.
Special thanks to all people who came to visit the Tent of Nations and learn about the work we are doing.
On the 20th of October, we will start the olive harvest and we are expecting some new volunteers to help with the harvest.
At the end of October, we will start planting 3,000 new grape trees. Volunteers are welcome to come and help in planting.
From May 9-12, 2016, we are celebrating our 100-year anniversary (100 years of existence on our farm). Friends are welcome to come and join us for a week of celebrations including different activities, fieldtrips and workshops. We will be sending an invitation very soon.
For more information, please check our website www.tentofnations.org and our face book page: Tent of Nations/Nassar Farm. We would love to see you.
(Note from FOTONNA: Plans are also underway on how we can celebrate this centennial across the U.S. and around the world. We will let you know about making plans in your local area to celebrate in solidarity with the activities at Tent of Nations. Stay tuned!!)
Finally, we would like to thank you all for your prayers, for your support, and for your solidarity.
Blessings and Salaam,
Tent of Nations – People Building Bridges
NOTE FROM FOTONNA:
There isn’t much that we can add to Daoud’s Update, as he has covered all of the projects on the farm.
We do have a schedule of events being finalized for the U.S. Fall 2015 Tour that will take place October 4-20, 2015. Most of these planned sessions, however, are closed events at high school, college and university settings or with small church committees or at conferences so they will not be open to the general public. Thanks go to Beth Moore for organizing this tour and to all of the sponsors for opening up their homes and hearts in order to hear the Nassar family story; we appreciate all that you do!
Two major events include participation in the TELOS Conference on the 7th-9th in Washington, DC and the SABEEL Conference in Pittsburgh, PA on the 16th-17th. Daoud will serve on various panels and attend workshops where he will be able to share his story with a broad audience. Bill Plitt, FOTONNA’s Executive Director, will also serve on a panel on the topic of “Building Partnerships for Peace” at the TELOS conference.
Daoud will also attend both a FOTONNA Steering Committee meeting and a FOTONNA Advisory Council meeting. He will provide the latest updates to us and guide us in any future actions he might deem necessary for us to take regarding issues on the farm. We will definitely ask for your support if/when any action might need to be taken.
FOTONNA has used your donations this year for the following projects:
- *Women’s Education Center – rent and other expenses related to the classes being taught there. Jihan made a request for materials to be used in making jewelry, tools for cutting glass for stained glass projects, paints, pens, etc. We are looking into the possibility of getting new/used laptops to replace the old computers currently being used so that the women can take the laptops home once in awhile.
- Expansion of Farm Animal Pen
- Wine-making Project
- New Kitchen Project
- Summer Youth Camp – total cost of the camp for 2015 was covered by another group lead by Fr. Jacek and allowed FOTONNA funds to be used elsewhere
- Media Consultant Fee for updating the FOTONNA facebook page (facebook.com/Friends of Tent of Nations North America) and website (www.fotonna.org)
- Tree-planting Project
- Consultant Fees
- Re-printing Daoud’s book
- Paper/Ink/Postage, etc.
There are still projects that will need funding through the end of 2015 and beyond. We will be making specific appeals if/when needed.
*A Recipe Book created by Jihan and some of the women at the Education Center is in the process of being finalized. You will be notified when it is available as a complimentary gift for $50+ donations. Twelve recipes are included with a short history of the dish and a snippet of information about the woman who provided each recipe. You will enjoy savoring the wonderful flavor of authentic Palestinian cooking right in your own kitchen!
FOTONNA had an independent Certified Public Accountant do a formal review of our 2014 financial records. The report came back stating that:
“… My responsibility is to conduct the reviews in accordance with Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Those standards require me to perform procedures to obtain limited assurance that there are no material modifications that should be made to the financial statements. I believe that the results of my procedures provide a reasonable basis of assurance.
Based on my review, I am not aware of any material modifications that should be made to the accompanying financial statements in order for them to be in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.”
Please keep checking out the FOTONNA website from time to time as we continue to add updates from IFPB tours as well as stories from others who have been traveling to the land. And, if any of you would like to post your own personal stories/pictures from visits to the Tent of Nations, please send them to: Kay Plitt – firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also send our thanks, along with the Nassar family, to all of you who are so committed to seeing that Peace with Justice for Palestinians and Israelis prevails.
FOTONNA Steering Committee