Clearly marked ANERA vehicles during the war in Gaza.

Crisis in Gaza 2014, ANERA Response Log

October 2nd, 2014 by ANERA

Thanks to a dedicated and generous community of donors, ANERA’s Gaza staff was able to respond immediately to the bombings in Gaza. 

ANERA is one of the few international organizations that consistently gets health care and humanitarian relief supplies into Gaza. Since our Gaza office opened in 1984, ANERA has built or renovated infrastructure, linked homes to drinkable water sources, provided jobs, and delivered medicines to hospitals. Our networks are extensive and our staff is deeply committed to helping their fellow Palestinians in Gaza.

This log will be updated regularly provide an ongoing report back to donors on the ways ANERA is responding during this current crisis. 

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October 3-12, 2014 |Weekly summary

Staff had their first break since the war began. They stayed home for the Eid and spent time with their families.

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September 26-October 2, 2014 |Weekly summary

$7,000,000: total so far of what ANERA has spent on relief and development programming in Gaza since the beginning of the war.

Identified a vendor for the clothing and shoe vouchers for women and children from the Shejaeya and Zaytoon neighborhoods. The distribution is planned for the week after Eid, mid-October.

Five tanker trucks delivered 605,000 liters of drinking water to 87 communal water tanks throughout Khan Younis, Jabalia, El-Bureij, El-Maghazi, the Middle Area, Zahra, Shejaeya and Zaytoon.

Provided 61,300 liters (total provided so far: 369,000 liters) of fuel to water desalination, wastewater treatment plants, water wells and pumping stations from the far north to the far south of Gaza.

Renovated the Al Tofulah Al Hadeetha Preschool in the Zaytoon area, giving traumatized preschoolers a happy, safe haven to spend their days.

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September 12-18, 2014 |Weekly summary

Delivered 13,970 vials of the antibiotic Ceftriaxone to Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s biggest surgical facility. This expensive, scarce medicine was purchased in the West Bank.

Five tanker trucks delivered, cumulatively over 21 days, 12,976,000 liters of drinking water to 87 communal water tanks throughout Khan Younis, Jabalia, El-Bureij, El-Maghazi, the Middle Area, Zahra, Shejaeya and Zaytoon.

Received in the warehouse an IHP-funded shipment, valued at $414,940, containing a variety of medicines for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and allergies.

Delivered 255,700 liters of fuel to water desalination, wastewater treatment plants, water wells and pumping stations from the far north to the far south of Gaza.

NOTE: ANERA Gaza education, health and agriculture teams continue to conduct post-war damage assessments of ANERA-supported facilities to determine the scope of the damage, the capacity to respond with materials available within Gaza, and longer-term rebuilding plans based on the availability of materials from outside of Gaza.

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September 5-11, 2014 |Weekly summary

ANERA Gaza education, health and agriculture teams are conducting post-war damage assessments of ANERA-supported facilities to determine the scope of the damage, the capacity to respond with materials available within Gaza, and longer-term rebuilding plans based on the availability of materials from outside of Gaza.

Distributed $548,000 worth of donated children’s antibiotics, allergy medicines and other medical supplies to 16 health facilities.

Received at our Gaza warehouse 13,970 vials of the antibiotic Ceftriaxone. This expensive, scarce medicine was purchased in the West Bank. 

Five tanker trucks delivered, cumulatively, 9,807,000 liters of drinking water to 87 communal water tanks throughout Khan Younis, Jabalia, El-Bureij, El-Maghazi, the Middle Area, Zahra, Shejaeya and Zaytoon.

Delivered 115,700 liters of fuel to water desalination, wastewater treatment plants, water wells and pumping stations from the far north to the far south of Gaza.

Distributed 1,757 hygiene kits to displaced families at UN shelters in Gaza City, Kahn Younis, Rafah, and Middle Area.

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August 29-September 4, 2014 |Weekly summary

Distributed food parcels to 500 displaced families. With funds from individual donors, ANERA has provided a total of 2,111 families with food parcels.

Five tanker trucks delivered 9,073,000 liters of drinking water to 87 communal water tanks throughout Khan Younis, Jabalia, El-Bureij, El-Maghazi, the Middle Area, and Zahra. This includes an additional 37 water tanks ANERA set up in the Shejaeya and Zaytoon areas.

With USAID funds, delivered 115,700 liters of fuel to water desalination, wastewater treatment plants, water wells and pumping stations from the far north to the far south of Gaza.

ANERA’s early childhood development team has been systematically doing damage assessments at more than 150 preschools across Gaza to plan for rehabilitation as soon as possible. Their findings so far show that approximately 60% of schools have sustained damage, some of which is severe. Schools are due to go back into session in mid-September.

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August 10-28, 2014 |Weekly summary

Five tanker trucks delivered 5,571,000 liters of drinkable water to 50 communal water tanks throughout Khan Younis, Jabalia, El-Bureij, El-Maghazi, the middle area, Zahra, Gaza City and Zaytoon.

Delivered 62,900 liters of fuel to desalination and wastewater treatment plants across all of Gaza, benefiting over a million people.

With USAID funds, cumulatively, ANERA has delivered 429,732 liters of bottled water, 19,484 hygiene kits, and 13,680 liters of liquid soap to 40 UN shelters in Gaza City, Beit Lahia and Jabalia.

A Gaza family sheltering at a UN school gets hygiene kits and water.

A Gaza family sheltering at a UN school gets hygiene kits and water.

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August 9-21, 2014 |Weekly summary

Distributed food parcels to 1,250 displaced families.

Distributed dignity kits to 1,500 displaced women in coordination with five local partners.

Provided 7,000 liters of fuel to the Deir Al Balah water desalination plant, enough to keep it running for a week.

Five tanker trucks delivered 2,702,000 liters of drinkable water to 50 communal water tanks throughout Khan Younis, Jabalia, El-Bureij, El-Maghazi, the middle area, Zahra, and Gaza City.

Delivered 139,104 liters of bottled water and 2,240 hygiene kits to more than 4,000 displaced families in 13 UN shelters located in Jabalia, Beit Lahia and Gaza City.

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August 20, 2014 |Deliveries made despite resumption of hostilities

In the past 24 hours ANERA brought three trucks into Gaza and distributed 13,440 bottles of water, 1,065 hygiene kits, and 720 containers of liquid soap (USAID-funded) to families in two UN shelters. ANERA staff members coordinate and accompany these shipments on a daily basis to ensure they safely get to where they are most needed.

ANERA staff members Sami Mater and Mohammad Ghossein deliver much-needed bottles of water to UN schools where Gaza families are sheltering.

ANERA staff members Sami Mater and Mohammad Ghossein deliver bottles of water to UN shelters for displaced Gaza families.

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August 8-14, 2014 |Weekly summary

Distributed 244,260 liters of water, 8,312 hygiene kits, and 6,480 liters of liquid soap to 12,506 displaced families in 32 UN shelters.

Purchased $100,000 worth of antibiotics, anesthetics and anti-coagulants in the West Bank and delivered them to Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Set up 50 large water tanks in central locations across Khan Younis, Jabalia, El Maghazi and El Bureij. Throughout the week, ANERA sent over a million liters of water to continually refill the tanks. This is daily and ongoing.

Provided fuel to the Deir Al Balah water desalination plant to maintain power at the facility during this time of critically short water supplies. ANERA has pledged to provide them with enough fuel to keep the plant running for two weeks.

Boys fill up water jugs in Khan Younis, where ANERA set up and continually refills 20 communal water tanks, each with a capacity of 2,400 liters (634 gallons).

Boys fill up water jugs in Khan Younis, where ANERA set up and continually refills 20 communal water tanks, each with a capacity of 2,400 liters (634 gallons).

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August 5, 2014 |Food parcels, hygiene kits and water distributed

Today was the first time in nearly a month that all 16 of ANERA’s Gaza staff was able to go out and work safely. These are just a few of the things they accomplished:

  • 1,600 displaced families in Beit Lahia and Gaza City received parcels with ready-to-eat foods
  • 100,000-liter water tanker sent to Abassan to fill 10 tanks accessible to families in this hard-hit area of Khan Younis
  • 1 truck of bottled water brought in from Jerusalam and distributed 840 displaced families at three UNRWA schools
  • 2 trucks of hygiene kits brought in from Jerusalem and distributed to 9,600 displaced families at UNRWA schools

### NOTE: ANERA’s response log will be updated on a weekly basis. Next update will be August 14. ###

Packing up hygiene kits filled with soap, toothbrushes, towels and other personal hygiene items.

Packing up hygiene kits filled with soap, toothbrushes, towels and other personal hygiene items for displaced families in Gaza. These items were purchased and packed in the West Bank.

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August 4, 2014 |Food parcels and water distributed

ANERA distributed food parcels to 1,000 displaced families taking refuge at a Gaza church and a nearby school. The parcels include water and are filled with ready-to-eat items like hummus, meats, cheeses and tuna fish. These three delivery locations are not served by the UN and the needs are great.

ANERA also brought in from Jerusalem two trucks of water and two trucks of hygiene kits, each containing soap, toothbrushes and other personal hygiene supplies. The items, purchased with USAID funds, were delivered to 1680 displaced families sheltering at 3 UN schools in Gaza City.

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August 3, 2014 |Hospitals pick up medicines, water is delivered to displaced families

Three hospitals came to the ANERA warehouse in Gaza City today to pick up antibiotics, painkillers and surgical supplies donated by AmeriCares. With the influx of wounded, most health care facilities have depleted their supplies of these vital items. ANERA is currently working to clear another shipment of antibiotics, penicillin, and syringes into Gaza.

A third truck of bottled water from Jerusalem was delivered to 840 displaced families at UN shelters in Gaza City.

A young boy enjoys some water that ANERA just delivered to the school where he and his family have been taking refuge.

A young boy enjoys some water that ANERA just delivered to the school where he and his family have been taking refuge.

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August 2, 2014 |Trucks with water arrive at shelters in Gaza

The first 2 of 35 trucks loaded with water bottles, purchased with USAID funds, have made it into Gaza. ANERA immediately delivered the water to 1,680 displaced families at eight UN schools. Every truck that gets into Gaza is an accomplishment — the result of many hours of behind-the-scenes vetting of vendors, arranging logistics, determining the best shipping route within Gaza, and coordinating with the UN for safe passage. 

In Jerusalem, ANERA loaded two trucks with enough water for more than 1,600 displaced families in Gaza.

In Jerusalem, ANERA loaded two trucks with enough water for more than 1,600 displaced families in Gaza.

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July 30-31 & August 1, 2014 |Water and hygiene kits procured 

Using USAID funds, ANERA has purchased enough drinking water and hygiene kits for approximately 70,000 displaced people in UN shelters. The kits contain soap, toothbrushes and other personal hygiene items. This shipment is being sent from the West Bank and will be delivered in the coming days to the many families in Gaza who left their homes with nothing. They will bring a small, yet very important comfort to people who have lost everything. More of these distributions are planned for the coming days.

With intensified shelling in Gaza City, ANERA staff of 16 cannot safely travel. They remain in their homes.

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July 29, 2014 |Dignity kits for women 

ANERA is currently purchasing supplies for dignity kits to be distributed to 700 women displaced from their homes. The items, which come from local Gaza wholesalers, will be distributed in the coming days in coodination with local community organizations. The kits contain an abaya (robe), hijab (head scarf), flip-flops, underwear, hand wipes, sanitary napkins, a hand towel, and an assortment of toiletries.

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July 27-28, 2014 |Streets unsafe 

Staff stayed indoors, as streets are unsafe for travel. In the meantime, they are coordinating procurement of more relief items, like dignity kits for women and food parcels, and deliveries of medicines to health care facilities.

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July 26, 2014 |Antibiotics shipment gets through crossing into Gaza

ANERA got a shipment of 24,366 vials of the antibiotic Ceftriaxon through the Karem Shalom crossing today. The medicine was purchased in the West Bank with funds from ANERA donors. ANERA staff took advantage of the 12-hour ceasefire and immediately delivered the life-saving medicine to Gaza’s largest hospital.

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July 25, 2014 |More food parcels purchased

With money that was donated over the past week, ANERA’s staff in Gaza has been able to purchase 2,000 food parcels, containing:

  • Hummus
  • Foul
  • Two types of cheese
  • A variety of meats
  • Jam
  • Halva
  • Date syrup
  • Tuna fish
  • Bottled water

Over the next two days, we will be distributing these parcels in Gaza City in locations where displaced families have been taking refuge.

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July 24, 2014 |New shipment cleared at port

A big shipment of medicines and medical supplies has just cleared through the border thanks to ANERA’s West Bank team. This AmeriCares donation of antibiotics, penicillin, and syringes is valued at over $500,000. Clearing a shipment of this size during this difficult time is an important achievement. All the difficult logistical work done by our Gaza warehouse staff means we will have the space and capacity to receive and distribute this new shipment and more thereafter. 

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July 23, 2014 |Antibiotics delivered to hospital

ANERA delivered 5,500 vials of life-saving antibiotics to Gaza’s largest surgical hospital. Staff in ANERA’s Gaza warehouse continue to organize and prepare a very large shipment of medicines and medical supplies for delivery to various hospitals and medical facilities.

ANERA's Gaza pharmacist and warehouse manager, Mostafa Al Ghosain, delivers 5,500 vials of life-saving antibiotics to Gaza's largest surgical hospital.

Mostafa Al Ghosain delivers life-saving antibiotics to Gaza’s largest surgical hospital.

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July 22, 2014 |Staff working at warehouse

Despite very dangerous conditions, ANERA staff went to our Gaza City warehouse today and began readying cases of medicines and medical supplies for distribution to hospitals. Coordination also began on delivering thousands of vials of Ceftriaxone (an antibiotic in extremely short supply) to Gaza’s largest hospital. Unfortunately, the delivery has been delayed until tomorrow – the teams that ANERA usually works with to distribute medicines are either overwhelmed or can’t risk the danger of going out on to the streets.

A Gaza father signs up for ANERA's emergency food parcels during Gaza war.

A Gaza father signs up for ANERA’s emergency food parcels during Gaza war.

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July 21, 2014 |Food parcels going to the south

Gaza staff dispatched food parcels for 500 families in the Khan Younis and Rafah areas. ANERA used recent donations to purchase the desperately needed parcels at the end of last week. 

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July 19-20, 2014 |With streets unsafe for any travel, staff remain in their homes

Staff were asked to stay indoors as streets remain unsafe during the ground invasion. There are 500 boxes of food and 600 boxes of medicines and medical supplies in our Gaza warehouse ready for immediate distribution as soon as conditions allow it. So far the “humanitarian pauses” in violence have been too short to carry out any form of delivery.

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Friday, July 18, 2014 |ANERA staff have been asked to stay home

A number of our Gaza staff were intent on going to the ANERA warehouse to continue preparing 600 boxes of medicines and medical supplies for distribution. However, because of increased danger from the recent ground invasion, they were asked to stay off the streets today.

ANERA has 600 boxes of medicines and medical supplies in our Gaza warehouse ready for distribution as soon as conditions allow it.

ANERA has 600 boxes of medicines and medical supplies in our Gaza warehouse ready for distribution as soon as conditions allow it.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014 |Antibiotics receive Ministry of Health approval

ANERA got immediate approval from the Ministry of Health in Ramallah to purchase 29,866 vials of Ceftrixone from the West Bank for delivery into Gaza. This is a life-saving antibiotic used during emergency surgeries that is virtually unavailable in Gaza. Staff in Gaza, who have not taken a break since the bombing began, took advantage of the 6-hour ceasefire to rest and buy supplies for their families. 

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014 |Purchasing antibiotics, food parcels and hygiene kits

Donations in recent days have allowed ANERA to make an immediate purchase of antibiotics, food parcels and hygiene kits. Our West Bank staff are coordinating the procurement of these items. We also have a large AmeriCares shipment (valued at $545,000) of medicines and surgical supplies that has been cleared and is ready to enter Gaza. In the meantime, our Gaza staff continues to coordinate distribution of medicines already in our Gaza City warehouse.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014 |Preparing for another large distribution of medical supplies

ANERA staff is hard at work in our Gaza warehouse preparing and organizing a large quantity of donated health care supplies and medicines for distribution to hospitals throughout Gaza. Most hospitals have dangerously low stocks of antibiotics and painkillers, which account for a large portion of these supplies.

An ANERA warehouse staff member in Gaza moves one of many pallets of health care supplies and medicines.

An ANERA warehouse staff member moves one of many pallets of health care supplies and medicines, donated by AmeriCares.

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Monday, July 14, 2014 | Medicines to Gaza’s largest hospital, food parcel distribution complete

ANERA provided Gaza’s biggest hospital with a large quantity of medicines and medical supplies. Hospital staff tell us that their most urgently needed medicines are antibiotics for post surgery treatment – thankfully antibiotics are part of our next distribution which is being prepared and organized in our Gaza warehouse today. At this point all Ramadan food parcels have been distributed to families throughout Gaza.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014 | Large shipment of medicines and medical supplies received in warehouse

Braving very dangerous conditions, ANERA’s staff received in our Gaza City warehouse a large shipment of emergency health care supplies including gauze, syringes, surgical gloves, sutures, bandages and medicines. Donated by AmeriCares and valued at $1,394,000, the supplies are quickly being readied for distribution to hospitals with dangerously depleted stocks.

With funding from the Zakat Foundation, ANERA provided food parcels to hundreds of families in Gaza City.

One father picks up a parcel of food from ANERA filled with necessities like cooking oil, beans and pasta.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014 | Ramadan food parcels distributed

From ANERA’s Gaza office director, Nahed Al-Wehaidi: “I have just arrived home safely after having given out all the food parcels to our local partners in Deir Balah, Gaza city, and Beit Lahia. Our Deir Balah partner started the distribution to families as soon as I arrived, as the situation is getting worst there in terms of safety/security. The other 2 partners will start the distribution tomorrow.”

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Friday, July 11, 2014 | Preparing Ramadan food parcels

Hundreds of Ramadan food parcels are being prepared by ANERA staff in Gaza. Each package contains a variety of essentials like tahini, tuna, sugar, tea, macaroni, lentils and other beans, tomato paste, rice, juice, cheese, and cooking oil. All of the food was purchased locally. Distribution is set to begin tomorrow after a delay due to the current violence.

Ambulance at ANERA’s Gaza City warehouseloads up with medicines such as antibiotics and painkillers for treating the huge influx of wounded people.

Ambulance picking up medicines at ANERA’s Gaza city warehouse.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014 | Distribution of urgent medicines

Ambulances arrived at ANERA’s warehouse on Thursday and were loaded with urgently needed medicines such as antibiotics and painkillers for treating the huge influx of wounded people. The medicines, donated by Direct Relief and valued at $1,444,000, were delivered to 6 hospitals and clinics around Gaza. This is one of the first deliveries of medicines to health care facilities in Gaza during the current crisis.  

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Husband and wife in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. The husband relies on heart medicine ANERA delivers to a nearby charitable clinic.

[VIDEO] Love Stories for World Heart Day 2014

September 29th, 2014 by ANERA

According to the World Heart Federation, heart disease and strokes are the world’s leading cause of death, killing 17.1 million people every year. That is more than cancer, HIV and AIDS and malaria.

In honor of World Heart Day, ANERA features the story of two couples in Lebanon in love. The husbands both take heart medicine that ANERA delivers to clinics across Lebanon.

Heart Medicine Helps Families in Lebanon Cope with Chronic Disease

Every year, ANERA distributes 12+ shipments from AmeriCares containing chronic disease medications, like those that treat heart conditions.

West Bank clinic treats ulcer patients with free medicines donated by AmeriCares.

West Bank Clinics Get Medicines to Ease Ulcers

September 29th, 2014 by lkassman

For two years, 65-year-old Ata Zidat  has been a regular visitor to a charitable clinic in his town of Bani Na’im, in the southern West Bank. Zidat is a father of 11 now grown up children and the grandfather of 22 kids. He suffers from chronic ulcers.

Donation of vital medicines eases financial burden for West Bank partients.

Like many people in his village, he is unemployed and lives in poverty. “Before coming here to consult with the doctor, I used to buy the medication from a private drug store and it cost me $6.50, which is a heavy burden for a chronic ulcer patient like me,” he explained. 

Now Zidat receives his ulcer medication for free at the town clinic, thanks to ANERA’s in-kind delivery of AmeriCares’ recent donation of Nu Lev chewable tablets (Hyoscyamine Sulfate).

West Bank clinic treats ulcer patients free, thanks to donated medicines from AmeriCares.

Ulcer patient Ata Zidat gets treated in his town clinic.

“If you go into our pharmacy, you will see that one third of our medications are donated through ANERA,” says Dr. Issa Qdeimat. “This recent AmeriCares donation will cover us for the rest of the year, soothing the pain of so many needy patients suffering from ulcers.”

Over the past two years, Zidat has shown great improvement in his health, and now only needs his medication when his stomach and large intestines are irritated. Zidat also admits he has been a smoker since his teenage years and says his biggest failing is his inability to stop. Dr. Issa says smoking, coupled with poor nutrition, can cause major health problems such as ulcers.

His former job as a truck driver between Amman and Baghdad and bad eating habits on the road did not help either, the doctor adds.  “Aside from being a heavy smoker, he also relied on coffee, sandwiches and canned foods to stay alert at the wheel.”

Poor patients like Zidat rely entirely on the generosity of the free clinic for their health care. “So when ANERA supplies us with such important medicines, it greatly eases our financial burdens,” Dr. Issa explains. “The donations enable us to function efficiently and ensure that each patient in our clinic gets the medical attention and treatment they need at a minimal cost or no cost at all.”

Razan is on the court in northern Lebanon, ready to play with her girls' basketball team.

Sports for Peace Attracts Young Girls in Lebanon

September 23rd, 2014 by lkassman

Razan’s eyes are full of joy and excitement as she waits on the bench and watches her teammates play. With a critical eye and competitive spirit, she checks their routine and glances over at her relatives from time to time.

Sports for Peace helps young girls bridge sectarian divides in northern Lebanon.

This is the story of 13-year-old Razan Saad Ghomrani from Qarqaf who is taking part in the basketball training session at her school. ANERA organized the session as part of the Sports for Peace II project that aims at strengthening cooperation and coexistence among communities in northern Lebanon that have experienced sectarian tensions.

The village of Qarqaf, like many others located in Akkar region of Lebanon, is plagued by poverty, electricity cuts, unpaved streets, a shortage of clean water and a lack of educational programs. The area’s resources also have been stretched by the influx of refugees from Syria, nearly one-third of the million who have arrived in Lebanon.

But, on a quiet Wednesday afternoon, the usual worries and complaints are replaced by the sound of laughter and bouncing balls. The tensions between host and refugee communities have melted away as the coach yells out, “I need to see you dribble the ball and not let it go.” Razan and her young teammates giggle as they try to obey her, ignoring the usual social rivalries and focusing on just having fun.

Ghiwa kabbara (far right) works with her girls' basketball team in northern Lebanon.

Ghiwa kabbara (far right), a basketball player living in Tripoli, coaches the girls team, in the process teaching them peace-building, tolerance, discipline, cooperation and conflict resolution.

Razan was excited to join the team. “The wife of Qarqaf’s mayor called my mother and told her about the training session in the school playground and asked if she would like me to join.”

Razan was born and raised in Qarqaf and knows most of the kids there, but had not really mingled with them socially. “I don’t see my friends a lot because they live far from my house so when we found out about the training I thought it would be great if we could all join together,” she says. “And now I get to see them twice a week and make new friends too.”

Some 40 girls from Qarqaf have joined the initiative, which is part of the Sports for Peace program funded by USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI). The aim of the project is to use sports to bridge the gap between conflicting communities.

Even after Razan plays on the field she doesn’t go home but prefers to linger and watch her friends play. She often comes early too so she can chat and be with other girls her own age. “During breaks we get to talk about random things, like school and our families and we drink water until we can get back to the game,” Razan says.

Like her friends, Razan sees this program as a way to bond, create new friendships, stay active and have fun. She says the girls have stopped seeing their differences, their different nationalities and dialects. Now, they just play and laugh and work together as a team with a feeling of confidence and joy.

Razan exclaims with a smile, “We wish this will never end.”

Bill Corcoran looks at destroyed buildings in Gaza.

Gaza Trip Report, September 2014

September 10th, 2014 by ANERA

by ANERA President Bill Corcoran

With the buzz of drones overhead I was processed through Erez Crossing into Gaza. My baggage comprised two backpacks full of gifts from HQ staff for Gaza co-workers and water bottles for me. On the other side, the Hamas terminal had been obliterated by bombing, along with the luggage scanners and banks of computers for data processing. It was all replaced by a small trailer and some note takers with pad and pen. No bags were checked.

Once we left the terminal, I could see the full extent of the damage. I was shocked, even after having worked in Indonesia after the Tsunami.

Beit Hanoon (in the north) almost doesn’t exist anymore. Numbers are still being gathered, but an estimated 60% of the homes were made useless, at least for now. Once a fertile agricultural area, its destroyed fields can’t even be accessed now for fear of unexploded bombs. Animals by the hundreds were killed in their pens and coops. Water wells were damaged so irrigation is impossible.

Farmland and greenhouses throughout Gaza's agriculture communities were destroyed.

Farmland and greenhouses throughout Gaza’s agriculture communities were destroyed.

Our partner, Al Najda Farm Cooperative, lost four tons of processed food when the refrigerator units were machine-gunned. They were distributing our food parcels when I arrived. Teenagers ran up to me thanking ANERA for the food we have distributed. Many of the ANERA food parcels were packaged in reusable plastic laundry baskets. This was part ingenuity and part necessity on the part of our staff. Gaza’s only cardboard factory had been destroyed. In fact, over 150 factories have been leveled, including those essential to rebuilding and food production. Experts estimate it will take a year for most of the power grid to be operational, provided that spare parts for repair are allowed into Gaza.

A mother picks up an ANERA food parcel filled with good quality, ready-to-eat foods packed in a reusable laundry basket.

A mother picks up an ANERA food parcel filled with good quality, ready-to-eat foods packed in a reusable laundry basket.

During the four days I spent in Gaza I saw our staff energized by the work they were doing.

During the four days I spent in Gaza I saw our staff energized by the work they were doing, as their relief efforts reach more and more families and their damage assessments move forward. But they cannot completely ease their fear that the ceasefire may not hold. They also worry that if restrictions are not eased for the entry of building materials and the freer passage of people, then their future is bleak.

As I drove through different communities I was seeing the new normal of Gaza. Between Khan Younis and Rafah along the new Israeli buffer zone, villages like Khoza’a were 75% wiped out. Abissan was less so because it was more rural. But their fields are unworkable. Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC), calculates that just restoring production capacity will cost $500 million.

One of many children ANERA President Bill Corcoran saw during his trip to Gaza in September 2014.

One of many barefooted children Bill Corcoran saw during his Gaza trip.

Many families spray-painted their names and cellphone numbers on their homes during the war. It was a way to claim ownership and also a means of notification if the house were damaged. Other homes now display bright plastic banners depicting a loved one who died there. Too many of these photos were of children.

Amid the despair and sadness, there is one image that remains with me from my trip to Gaza: an elderly Palestinian sitting with his grandchildren outside the remains of his house. When he saw me and ANERA staffer Rania Elhilou snapping photos, he insisted that we sit with him on some broken white plastic chairs there and have some tea. Dignity and hospitality even amid the ruins. This is Gaza.

Bill Corcoran visits one of the 87 2,500-liter water tanks that ANERA has placed in communities throughout Gaza.

Bill Corcoran visits one of the 87 2,500-liter water tanks that ANERA has placed in communities throughout Gaza.