Monday, April 16, 2012 Update on Gaza trip.
Arrived at Ben Gurion after traveling through ten time zones to Tel Aviv. Things slightly tense at Ben Gurion. Today is Palestinian Prisoner Freedom Day which means the Israeli soldiers will be a little nervous. We leave in about 15 minutes for Gaza. Spent last night here at Walat Salam, place of peace, a bit south of Tel Aviv. It is a Palestinian/Israeli coop retreat center, very different from conditions in Gaza. More later, hopefully, depending on internet, electricity, time. Salam…..
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Crossed at Erez with very little hassle (I took photo of Erez crossing sign and was told to delete it or they would confiscate the camera…I got away with the photograph and my camera…..). Arrived at Marna House and settled in about noon. Lunch and work started. Three of us went to Qatten Children’s Center here in Gaza City. It is funded by very wealthy man named Qatten who now lives in London. The center is a “community” center for children 0-15 to, in the words of Mr. Alaa El Deen Tayeh, the director, is to feel and experience a renewed sense of the CULTURE of Gaza. It is a beautiful building with 100,000 volume library, multi-media room, art rooms, art, reading and music clubs, a garden, and a paid staff of 35. One of the city garbage pits is across the street so the smell is a constant presence in the building (as is the smell of sewage with the windows open). Tonight there is no electricity but the hotel has a generator so we have some power for this post. I am with an amazing group of talented and passionate people with a variety of interests and skills. Tomorrow three or four of us go for the day to see some of the different locations and types of work done by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) north of Gaza and south of Gaza. There are clinics, schools, relief centers….and I will find out what else. The surgeons began work about 3 this afternoon – pediatric urologists – at one of the hospitals. There is a schedule for each of us but there is also some flexibility as we work some other interests and possibilities into our days. More later, salam….