At our Branch Committee in June we heard from Lisa Dundas about the work of the Working with Villages in Palestine. We agreed to give them a donation and to let our members know more about their work. Lisa has prepared a brief blog/article below. We hope you find this of interest. Links at the bottom of the article are available for those wanting to find out more or to get involved in the support work.
Coventry City Unison
Working with Villages in Palestine was formed in August 2014 in the aftermath of the bombings in Gaza. Elaine was out in the West Bank in a village, 65 miles away and could feel the bombs dropping through the earth. Every morning she was greeted with a fresh breakfast of olives, oil, eggs, bread, milk, cheese and yogurt and she realised that all of these had come from her hosts own land. He explained how expensive goats were though, which could provide the milk, and therefore cheese and yoghurt. Elaine hatched a plan to raise £1000 to take out to buy a few goats. By December, Lisa had joined her and when they flew out for two weeks to spend the money, they had raised £7000.
They travelled to many villages and used contacts of friends of friends to meet with town councils to see where the money would be best spent and to get ideas for future projects. They ended up delivering goats and sheep to families, planted fruit trees and delivered food parcels.
The 2015 trip grew considerably and they raised just over £12,000. They also had a volunteer who came with them to help with the project. They worked in the same areas they had visited previously, building relationships with the villagers. This year they donated a hatchery to the threatened village of Yanoun (funded by a donation by Unite) This hatchery is to be run as a co-operative for everyone in the village to benefit from.
They bought 10 sheep and goats (which had gone up in price considerably, now at between £3-400) planted over 300 fruit trees, including olive, fig, orange and lemon and delivered 65 food parcels with a months -worth of essentials in.
They funded a school bus for Bedouin children from a threatened community to be able to continue their education, paid for a land survey for a Bedouin farmer to keep his land, planted trees for the Land defence coalition and invested in small local community projects, selling their produce back in the UK. They delivered presents to the children’s hospital in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, involved children in an art and photography project they are working on and initiated a pilot scheme in Irrigation systems for the garden, so people can grow their own veg.
This year they are returning in October with an 8 strong team, with the forecast of raising double the money spent last year. Working with Villages in Palestine also have “Football for Palestine” fundraising and joining them out there on some of the projects. 100% of what is raised is spent on the ground on grassroots projects. If you want to know more, please look at the website, or Facebook page.