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Archive for February, 2012

On arrival to Gaza, one of our main objectives was the setting up of a sailing school. We strongly believe the sea will, insh’allah, one day be the route of freedom for the people of Palestine, freedom to sail their own waters, freedom to travel to the rest of the world without asking permission from another country and freedom to return.

With the help of  The Palestinian sailing  federation http://gazasailing.blogspot.com,  and its chairperson , the inspiring and always enthusiastic Mahfouz  Kabariti, we now have begun to teach a group of Palestinians the aspects of sailing and sea safety. Mahfouz’s enthusiasm has rubbed of on this small group, and despite intermittent electricity, no equipment and our main boat being a “model ship” they turn up every night they are asked.

We have begun with learning the different parts of the boat, the correct names of the boat, the rules of the sea and basic sea safety. Some of the class are on their way to Algeria this week to take part in International training for participation in the world championship in spain in 2014, so lately we have tried to concentrate on Dinghy racing.

Here in Gaza we have the use of a catamaran , in need of some repair, but our only form of sailing boat for now. twice, so far , we have managed to take her to sea for some practical training, not impossible but not ideal  without proper gear, but we had fun, hopefully learned  few things and definitely hope to make it a more regular thing.

At present we have 10 dinghy’s (5 lasers and 5 optimist  ) which have been donated to us by the Qatar sailing federation. .We are currently working hard to secure a route for these boat’s to get in as they are presently in storage in Cyprus. We are also working on trying to raise funds for additional equipment such as life vest’s, helmets and a rescue boat to accompany the dinghy’s.

Derek,   Jenny and Jeff ( photographer)  wish the boys  heading to Algeria all the best, we look forward to continuing to work with you and building up the sailing school in Gaza.

If you would like to help in any small way with this project or any of our projects here in Gaza , we have a donate  button withinstructions,  at the top of  each post in this blog

Catamaran Pictures by Jeff Bright,  FACEBOOK PAGE:  jeffrey bright photojournalist

As you can see from the pictures, she’s in bad need of repair and new sails.

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Sunday 12th February, 2012.

We attended the children’s Art and video exhibition in Gaza city. This was a project run in conjunction with GUCC, War child organisation and windows for contemporary art.  The project involved children being given the freedom, under supervision to photograph their surroundings, focusing mainly on the lack of play areas and free space for kids.

They were taught the art of photography including framing, editing, sound production ( for video) etc and the results were amazing. Some of the children were at the exhibition and rightly accepted all the deserved praise given to them. It was a delight to see the faces of children from Gaza light up when they proudly pointed to their own pictures, as they tried to explain in broken english their subjects, where it was taken, how hard they worked on them and how much they enjoyed the project.

Perhaps we have met some of the future winners of the ” Pulitzer Prize’ in Gaza that Sunday !

From the website at   http://www.artwfg.ps

“The space around us is limited, the ideas in us are unlimited. We came together to think about how we could break out from here and reach the outside; and how we could open small windows and breathe fresh air. In this restricted/cramped space – Gaza – we express ourselves in a cultural-bound artistic language, when we talk to others. A language, that is part of us. “Gaza” is rich in details, that we try to illustrate using new, descriptive colours. A group of young artists, bound to a specific, geographic area, in which ideas converge. Deeply believing in collective co-operation, they try to develop together the creative aspects in the art movement. They are looking at the most recent contemporary art, that serves them to fully express their artistic abilities and put them into form. The ideas and reflections of the group come to a synthesis, that is brought to public attention by regularly holding meetings, exhibitions and workshops, in which both local and international artists participate. Each of them has taken part in numerous international events in support of their culture, their art concept, and their effort to interplay”- http://www.artwfg.ps

Photographs By Jeff Bright, Facebook : Jeffrey Bright Photojournalist:

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Pictures By Jeff Bright, Facebook Page: Jeffrey Bright Photojournalist.

The lightening , which accompanies the cold, wind and rain, is the only thing lighting up the Gaza skyline , that  and the nightly airstrikes by Israel . The fuel , supposedly coming from Egypt today , failed to show up. Although Rafah links Egypt to Gaza, this is not the official route or so they say ,  ( Rafah is to be used  for humanitarian aid only, but basic needs for water, light , heat etc is not humanitarian? ) so a padlock on a gate means an alternative route must be found….. While some people play politics and cover necessity with red tape, the ordinary families of Gaza huddle around candles and oil lamps or they sparingly run noisy , expensive generators .

Gaza , part of the middle east, the oil rich region of the world suffers , and WHY? not because of a natural disaster but because somebody somewhere decides this is how some people should live……………... How dare they??

Gaza is allocated 4 hours of electricity a day, and even this is intermittent. The lack of power means not just cold and dark, it means lack of clean fresh water as the pumps can not work, it means lack of fresh fish as the larger boats need fuel , Petrol stations have been shut for a week now, Hospitals are in grave danger with the risk of death for many patients an almost certain consequence.

Mr. Ashraf al-Qidra, Spokesman of the Ministry of Health, emphasized that more than 80% of patients in the Gaza Strip are threatened by a deterioration of their health conditions due to the power outages and the decreasing strategic stock of fuel required for the operation of electricity generators at hospitals and health care facilities.

He further warned of a health disaster that may directly affect all patients in vital departments of hospitals whose treatment depend on the availability of electricity supplies, especially prematurely born infants in incubators, who are currently more than 100. Also at risk are more than 400 patients suffering from renal failure, including 15 children, who need dialysis twice or three times a week; and 66 patients who are currently placed in intensive care units.

Al-Qidra indicated that 39 operation rooms, in addition to emergency and reception departments, gynaecology departments, laboratories, and radiology departments in all hospitals of the Gaza Strip will become completely paralyzed if the crisis does not come to an end.

We have watched and waited too long, while Governments of the world have stood idly by…………what we are doing , is not enough……… We call on everybody to phone their departments of foreign affairs, ask for the middle east section, and ask for an update on the fuel crisis in Gaza . demand to know what is being done………If you phone once a day, every day, it may make a difference to a lot of people’s live’s in Gaza……..

We can not stand by and watch Gaza fade in to a cold , dark oblivion.

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Pictures by Jeff Bright.  Facebook: Jeffrey Bright photojournalist.

Tonight, February 14th , Valentines day , worldwide, . Across the globe many people will sit down to a candle lit dinner, by choice,,……….tonight in Gaza , Candle lit dinners are a necessity not a romantic option, and will be for the foreseeable future.

GAZA CITY  —  Tuesday , February  14th,  Gaza Strip’s only power station, which supplies the Palestinian enclave with up to two-thirds of its energy needs,shut’s  down  COMPLETELY. From today, those without generators will have a mere six hours of Electricity a day until something is resolved. Fuel for the generators is also now in short supply , with the Power company warning that Gaza would soon be ” swimming in a sea of darkness”.

“We are sorry to announce that we are unable to provide hospitals, education premises, water pumps and waste water facilities and all other fields of life with the enough quantities of electricity,” said Abu Al-Amrain, information director at the Energy Authority.

The constant interruption of Electricity over the last few days has already caused serious concerns over the water supply in Gaza ,

Around the darkness of Gaza tonight is the constant noise and smell of generators, shop owners trying to light the front of their shops , children trying to do homework, mothers trying to cook for and feed their families, people struggling in an environment already under siege. Flames from fires lit on balconies are the only lights in the Gaza skyline tonight and the only form of heating for many families on a cold February night, with cold, windy weather forecast for the coming days.

Palestinian Center for Human Rights, PCHR, said today,” The Gaza power plant needs 600,000 liters of fuel a day to keep running, but  only 340,000 litres had arrived from Egypt since Friday, with no reserve stocks left in Gaza to cover the shortfall.”

The lack of fuel also means the fishing boats are unable to go out, therefore the supply of fresh fish is very  limited which also compounds the problem of an already limited food supply.

Fresh water, heating , food  are basic  human rights and the denial of these to any people can only be seen as inhumane and contravenes  international resolutions and declarations. It is only with the help and intervention of the international community that this crisis , and its eminent consequences to the people of Gaza, will be resolved.

Tonight, February 14th, ……………..Gaza needs your love

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As you arrive at the gates of Gaza Sea port, a monument stands  directly facing you. With large flag poles to the side billowing proudly , The  monument , erected to the memory of the 9 Martyrs of the Mavi Marmara Massacre,  rises majestically .

The marble memorial   is regularly the site of demonstrations , especially at times of  Flotilla’s or individual attempts to break the siege by Sea. The top of the monument is a large globe of the world and below are the names of all nine murdered civilians each with a Palestinian  / Turkish flag below their names., symbolizing the strength of international solidarity and their lives as honorary Palestinians

Nine activists were killed in the raid, on May 31st, 2010

Cengiz Akyüz (42),

Ali Haydar Bengi (39),

 İbrahim Bilgen(61),

 Furkan Doğan (19),

 Cevdet Kılıçlar ( 38) 

Cengiz Songür (47),

 Çetin Topçuoğlu (53),

Fahri Yaldız (43),

and Necdet Yıldırım (32)

As we Wandered around the Port, The realisation of just how small this world  is really  dawns on us as we bump into Dearbhla Glynn. Dearbhla is an amazing documentary film maker from Ireland, in Gaza for a few weeks working in co-ordination with Trocaire and P.C.H.R.

Dearbhla’s documentary, Gaza: Post Operation Cast Lead  scooped the top prize in the ICCL Human Rights Film Awards 2010..

The last time we met Dearbhla was at a fundraising and awareness concert she helped organise in Dublin before the Irish Ship, The MV Rachel Corrie joined the Mavi Marmara and the other ships of  the first Freedom Flotilla to highlight and attempt to break the Siege on Gaza in 2010.

Irish in Gaza will post details of Dearbhlas latest trip to Gaza soon.

Day by Day there really are more and more “Irishingaza”  !!!

Pictures by Jeff Bright:  , Facebook:  Jeffrey  Bright Photojournalist

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Nuzeirat Refugee camp, in the middle sector of Gaza strip is home to 66,000 refugees,  although initially built to accommodate 16,000. It is here in  a cold stone building ,  monday 6th february, we met Campz breakerz  break dancing  and hip-hop team.

The atmosphere quickly warmed up as these guys invited us to watch them practice and give us an insight in to their fitness ability, their love of what they do, their camaraderie amongst themselves and their amazing hospitality towards us.  The team consists of 8 dancers, one of whom is away at the moment and their manager.

Mohammed Ghraiz ( Funk G )

Bilal Abu shawiesh (Fox)

Ahmed AL Ghraiz (Shark)

Ahmed Al horany (Don)

Ibrahim Ramadan ( Dark

Abdallah Alghraize (Ja.rule)

Ibrahim AL Ashram ( chino )

Abu nemer ( Puma )

Ahmed Ismail ( Pipe )  manager

After a brief warm up, it starts……… The music is going, Jeff sets up his camera and Derek and I sit and watch in amazement. The guys begin with  moves from a standing position,  almost as an opening display, many  moves are performed using the hands  and upper body as much as the feet for power or support , other moves are more acrobatic moves requiring  momentum, speed, endurance, strength, and control  , all done to music , with constant  interaction and support from each other. In fact, one guy, Don, claims to be the first in Gaza , capable of doing a head spin….

After the display,  we sit with the guys and drink hot sweet tea and Mohammed tells us why the group started, explaining he first  learned his art while in Saudi Arabi and on return to Gaza, hoped to continue . Breakdancing , he explains, did not exist here then,  so he got together with the rest of the guys and together since 2004 they have built up Camps breakerz. They have trained other groups in different areas of Gaza and now the art form , movement  is spreading.

The guys perform at different events , mostly here in Gaza but last year they were allowed permission to travel to Jordan to perform and later this year they will go to west bank to meet up  and perform with other groups.

The guys all train here in the  stone building in the centre of the refugee camp, all of the work (  still on going)  in the building  they have done themselves along with practising a minimum of 2 hours a day , sometimes  5 or 6 hours and some of them hold down jobs as nurses in Al shifa hospital. They do not get subsistence or financial help apart from maybe some small fundraising or from events etc but their attitude is still of the belief that they can do this for themselves and hopefully to encourage other’s to find a break from the daily struggle under the siege of Gaza

Their moves and displays are inspired by their surroundings and  by the daily struggles of the Palestinians living in Gaza, often times  inspired by tragedy,  including the  suffering and struggles faced   by the children  and youth of Gaza. They see  break dancing  as a way to express themselves and their struggle for freedom.

As quoted in an article in NBC news,  they are ” breaking boundaries by break dancing”….

check them out at   http://www.campsBreakerz.com

To read more on the refugee camps of Gaza visit :

http://webgaza.net/background/Palestinian-Refugee-Camps/Gaza-Strip/index.htm

 

Pictures by Jeff bright:

 

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Today, for Vik’s ( Vittorio Arrigoni ) birthday we spent the day at Gaza Sea Port with Photographer Jeff Bright, ( Sligo, Ireland) and Mahfouz kabbaritti, ( close friend of Vik here in GAza) .

This is a special place for many , including ourselves to rememer Vik. It was via the FreeGaza boats in 2008 that he first  and subsequently arrived in Gaza with Derek . We took many pictures of the different messages of love and solidarity left down there for him and we proudly hung a flag at the entrance to the Port.

Vik was and always will be a special friend, an inspiration and a guide to humanity for both  Derek and myself ……..  Restiamo Umani………….Stay human.

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