Posts Tagged ‘gaza’

Amid scenes of utter devastation, is the ever prevalent, ever existing humility, humanity, resilience that is Palestine.  We returned yesterday to Umm al Nasser village in Northern Gaza. A village that Israel, in its latest attacks on Gaza tried to wipe out and almost succeeded.

It’s hot and dusty, all around us are remnants of an unjust war, and still the children play and we sit, as usual, cross legged on the sand and drink sweet, sweet tea and talk and listen and admire in awe the hospitality of this village where we spend so much time these days.


As is customary, We sit under the shade though there have been times, we have sat indoors for shelter from a scorching sun or the wind and rain…It is not an option today, unless we climb through the rubble and search in vain for a room with a roof left. Later we wander around to where the Mosque used to stand, pass by the car that was driven over by an Israeli tank in the area where the new well will be drilled, see home after home partially or totally destroyed, 150 families in this village alone have no home left. The homes that remain are riddled with shell holes, bullets holes or walls knocked from tanks.  Some are staying with friends or relatives, some have moved out of the village to rented apartments in nearby towns and some just erected makeshift tents of plastic and canvas sheets in the ruins of their family homes. For those that did leave, it is almost impossible to return each day to begin to salvage what is left of their homes and lands.



Further up the sandy road is the Kindergarten…or rather was the Kindergarten. This was an Italian sponsored kindergarten for the preschool children of a village of 5000 residents. Flattened!  All that remains is a massive crater, dust, twisted pieces of metal…and a burned and torn EU flag that originally flew from the building… (There was nobody left in the village when the Israeli’s blew up this school… Is education of infant’s such a threat to the national security of Israel? )



On the eleventh day of the onslaught, the villagers were all forced to evacuate. The Israeli ground troops actually invaded the village. The village is right beside the Israeli border and the front line for Gaza. The tanks rolled in across the crops, the bulldozers flattened what they came across….and 50 days or so without water meant that what the tanks, the bulldozers, the flares and the shootings did not already destroy, the harsh sun dried to a crisp…. There is nothing left. The chili plants disintegrate between your fingers, the corn is brown and dusty, and the ground is sand…. Destroyed. Lemon trees broken, burned, crumbling. Many of their animals were killed, camels, sheep, cows… One man alone lost all his crops, all his animals and his home destroyed……..


But already they are beginning to replant … they have no choice. The UN came, took notes, and never came back. .. The NGO’s did not turn  up. We did, thanks to your support and donation’s … We promised a well and we will drill a well!

We believe Water is a right, we believe life is a right… and we believe water is a right to life. The villagers will replant their fields, slowly… The children will return to a classroom somewhere and the village will find a way back….but not without water. There is no water in the village, 5000 people are relying on trucks to turn up to deliver water sporadically.

We begin to drill this week… We will continuously update with news, pictures etc but we are short of the funds needed to complete……….We are close but still short. Please, on behalf of the villagers of Umm al Nasser, on behalf of Irish in Gaza, on behalf of just 2 people, Derek and Jenny Graham and on behalf of what is left of humanity, do what you can. Donate, if you can, Share, even if you cannot…


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 A Conversation with Christian Leaders from the Holy Land

 SADAKA – the Ireland Palestine Alliance, Christian Aid and Trócaire invite you to this special public event which is part of the first ever Ireland-wide speaking tour by senior Palestinian church leaders.

 When: Friday 26th November, 7.30pm

 Where: Smock Alley Theatre Exchange Street Lower, Temple Bar, Dublin 8

 The main aim of the tour is to raise awareness of the grave and increasing plight of the Christian community in Palestine, as well as the Palestinian population as a whole, who are living under Israeli military occupation.

 All are welcome!

 Book your free place: E: info@sadaka.ie; Tel: 01 6694707

The senior church leaders coming to Ireland are:

 Archbishop Theodosius Hanna of the Greek Orthodox Church

 Monsignor Manuel Musallam of the Latin Catholic Church

 Mr. Constantine Dabbagh of the Middle East Council of Churches

 As you may see from the biographies below, these men are of highly significant stature in religious and socio-political terms – not just in Palestine, but also in a global context.

 ‘We Palestinian Christians declare that the military occupation of our land is a sin against God and humanity’. KAIROS

 Palestine Background to the visit to Ireland of three senior church leaders from Palestine:

 The tour is a Sadaka initiative, organised in partnership with Trocaire and Christian Aid. The primary purpose of the tour is to raise awareness of the grave and increasing plight of the Christian community in Palestine, particularly in Bethlehem and the surrounding areas. The tour aims to give voice to the Palestinian people as a whole, engage with political and religious leaders in Ireland and highlight the current political and human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

. The religious leaders’ engagements in Ireland include a courtesy call with President Mary McAleese at Aras an Uachtarain and meetings with Mr. Micheál Martin, Minister for Foreign Affairs; leaders of the 4 main Christian churches and the First and Deputy First Ministers in the NI Assembly among others. There will also be a presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs, receptions to be hosted by the Lord Mayor of Dublin and the Palestinian Delegation to Ireland, a visit to the Michael Davitt Museum and the celebration of an ecumenical service in Ballintubber Abbey in Co. Mayo.

 The tour begins on the 24th December – updates will be uploaded to the Sadaka website during the tour – so please check out the site for the latest news: www.sadaka.ie

 Biographical Information:

 Archbishop Theodosius Hanna, Greek Orthodox Church – Archbishop Theodosius (Atallah) Hanna was born in 1965 in the village of Al Rameh, Galilee district, Israel. He was ordained in 1991 and since that time has held many prominent positions within the structures of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, including spokesman for the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. He held the position of Secretary General of the Clerical Lay Joint Council of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem and was appointed Professor of Church History and Arab Civilisation at the Arab Teachers College in Haifa. He is the founder of the Orthodox Youth Movement in Jerusalem and the Holy Land and is an active member of the international ecumenical movement both at local and regional level. Alongside his work towards Christian unification, he is a representative at the Geneva-based World Council of Churches. Throughout the Holy Land he is regarded as one of its most prominent religious and spiritual leaders. On the 1st December 2005 he was unanimously elected by the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem as Archbishop of Sebastia (Nablus district).

 Monsignor Manuel Musallam, Latin Catholic Church – Ten years older than the state of Israel, Monsignor Musallam has witnessed enormous changes in his lifetime and has had to cope with supporting his people through their extraordinary circumstances under Israeli occupation. He served as the parish priest in Gaza until his retirement in 2009. During his time there, Monsignor Manuel became known as the ‘Priest of the Million’, in recognition of his unfailing care and concern for both Christian and Muslim alike.

 Mr Constantine Dabbagh, Middle East Council of Churches – Mr. Constantine Dabbagh was born in Jerusalem in 1938, and in the midst of fierce fighting in 1947, fled as a refugee to the Gaza strip. During his life he has worked for United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Gaza, and for the United Nations in the Republic of Congo (now Zaire). He has consistently advocated non-violence amidst living conditions that clearly have become a humanitarian crisis. His personal and professional dialogue of justice, peace, security, mutual understanding and reconciliation has involved him in critical negotiations between political factions within Palestine, and the Palestinian Authority and the international community. Constantine directs the provision of health, education and community services which care for the predominantly Muslim population of Gaza. In particular, the services focus on mothers and babies, vocational education and the provision of psycho-social health services to an increasingly traumatised population.

 For more information on the church leaders and the tour itinerary, please go to


 We look forward to welcoming you on 26th November,

 Marie Crawley On behalf of the Board of SADAKA

 SADAKA – the Ireland Palestine Alliance,  Fitzwilliam Hall,  Fitzwilliam Place Dublin 2

 T: 01 6694707



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Rachel Corrie, (left) , Tristan Anderson (right)

We thank all who continue to remember Rachel and those who, on this sixth anniversary of her stand in Gaza, renew their own commitments to human rights, justice and peace in the Middle East. The tributes and actions in her memory are a source of inspiration to us and to others.

Friday, March 13th, we learned of the tragic injury to American activist Tristan Anderson. Tristan was shot in the head with a tear-gas canister in Ni’lin Village in the West Bank when Israeli forces attacked a demonstration opposing the construction of the annexation wall through the village’s land. On the same day, a Ni’lin resident was, also, shot in the leg with live ammunition. Four residents of Ni’lin have been killed in the past eight months as villagers and their supporters have courageously demonstrated against the Apartheid Wall deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice – a wall that will ultimately absorb one-quarter of the village’s remaining land. Those who have died are a ten-year-old child Ahmed Mousa, shot in the forehead with live ammunition on July 29, 2008; Yousef Amira (17) shot with rubber-coated steel bullets on July 30, 2008; Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22) and Mohammed Khawaje (20), both shot and killed with live ammunition on December 28, 2008  On this anniversary, Rachel would want us all to hold Tristan Anderson and his family and these Palestinians and their families in our thoughts and prayers, and we ask everyone to do so.

 We are writing this message from Cairo where we returned after a visit to Gaza with the Code Pink Delegation from the United States. Fifty-eight women and men successfully passed through Rafah Crossing on Saturday, March 7th to challenge the border closures and siege and to celebrate International Women’s Day with the strong and courageous women of Gaza. Rachel would be very happy that our spirited delegation made this journey. North to south throughout the Strip, we witnessed the sweeping destruction of neighborhoods, municipal buildings, police stations, mosques, and schools – casualties of the Israeli military assaults in December and January. When we asked about the personal impact of the attacks on those we met, we heard repeatedly of the loss of mothers, fathers, children, cousins, and friends. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reports 1434 Palestinian dead and over 5000 injured, among them 288 children and 121 women. We walked through the farming village of Khoza in the South where fifty homes were destroyed during the land invasion. A young boy scrambled through a hole in the rubble to show us the basement he and his family crouched in as a bulldozer crushed their house upon them. We heard of Rafiya who lead the frightened women and children of this neighborhood away from threatening Israeli military bulldozers, only to be struck down and killed by an Israeli soldier’s sniper fire as she walked in the street carrying her white flag. Repeatedly, we were told by Palestinians, and by the internationals on the ground supporting them, that there is no ceasefire. Indeed, bomb blasts from the border area punctuated our conversations as we arrived and departed Gaza. On our last night, we sat by a fire in the moonlight in the remains of a friend’s farmyard and listened to him tell of how the Israeli military destroyed his home in 2004, and of how this second home was shattered on February 6th. This time, it was Israeli rockets from Apache helicopters that struck the house, a stand of wheat remained and rustled soothingly in the breeze as we talked, but our attention shifted quickly when F-16s streaked high across the night sky. and our friend explained that if the planes tipped to the side, they would strike.

Everywhere, the psychological costs of the recent and ongoing attacks for all Gazans, but especially for the children, were sadly apparent. It is not only those who suffer the greatest losses that carry the scars of all that has happened. It is those, too, who witnessed from their school bodies flying in the air when police cadets were bombed across the street and those who felt and heard the terrifying blasts of missiles falling near their own homes. It is the children who each day must walk past the unexplainable and inhumane destruction that has occurred.

 In Rachel’s case, though a thorough, credible and transparent investigation was promised by the Israeli Government, after six years, the position of the U.S. Government remains that such an investigation has not taken place. In March 2008, Michele Bernier-Toff, Managing Director of the Office of Overseas Citizen Services at the Department of State wrote, “We have consistently requested that the Government of Israel conduct a full and transparent investigation into Rachel’s death. Our requests have gone unanswered or ignored.” Now, the attacks on all the people of Gaza and the recent one on Tristan Anderson in Ni’lin cry out for investigation and accountability.

We call on President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and members of Congress to act with fortitude and courage to ensure that the atrocities that have occurred are addressed by the Israeli Government and through relevant international and U.S. law. We ask them to act immediately and persistently to stop the impunity enjoyed by the Israeli military, not to encourage it.

Despite the pain, we have once again felt privileged to enter briefly into the lives of Rachel’s Palestinian friends in Gaza. We are moved by their resilience and heartened by their song, dance, and laughter amidst the tears.

Rachel wrote in 2003, “I am nevertheless amazed at their strength in being able to defend such a large degree of their humanity – laughter, generosity, family time – against the incredible horror occurring in their lives … I am also discovering a degree of strength and of the basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances … I think the word is dignity.” On this sixth anniversary of Rachel’s killing, we echo her sentiments.

 Sincerely, Cindy and Craig Corrie on behalf of our family

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John Hurson, from County Tyrone, in Northern Ireland, entered Gaza as part of the Vivapalestina /George Galloway convoy. This is his story , in his words:


Well folks, the great news to report to you today is that the Rocwell lorry filled with aid has been safely delivered to the people of Gaza in one piece. It was an amazing emotional feeling handing over the lorry and aid, knowing that it was going to make a difference to so many people affected by the recent war in Gaza.
To start off from where I last filled you in, was a roller coaster ride of anger, relief, tears, revenge, joy and achievement. There were so many emotions packed into 24 hours, it’s hard to know where to begin!
When I left the internet café in Al Arish, we returned to the car park where all hell had broke loose! A few hours before, the police had come in very heavy handed and had batoned several members of the crowd. They then retreated suddenly, switched the lights off, and then a barrage of missiles came over the wall injuring several members of the convoy. Not only that, they had used the darkness to write anti Hamas slogans on several vehicles. For a while it was total chaos. Thankfully I wasn’t around for it, and luckily my vehicle escaped the slogan writing.
However, that wasn’t the worst part. As I had mentioned in the last message, the Egyptian government had planned to refuse non medical aid to be delivered to Gaza. We had hoped this wasn’t going to happen, however, they were true to their word, and at midnight on Sunday, they proceeded to strip each vehicle with all the contents that wasn’t medical aid. The sight of van after van been stripped of the blankets, clothes, toys, shoes, generators, cement mixers, building products, and everything else that wasn’t medical aid brought each and every one of us to tears. To see fellow convoy members crying in each others arms was a very sad sight.
We were in total shock as we witnessed the Government officals go through each vehicle one by one and take everything out. How a government could deny it’s neighbour vital aid was just unbelievable. We all knew that Egypt is controlled by Israel and the U.S. but we didn’t realise the true extent until Sunday night. We were way beyond angry, and not one official could speak English when questioned about why they were doing it, however their English was perfect when they were asking people to open their doors and question them about their contents.
They strutted about under armed guard, and laughed at us as we stood around in total disbelief. However, we regrouped and came up with a plan. As each vehicle was stripped, and then cleared to move to the other side of the car park, convoy members distracted the officials with cups of tea and coffee, while the rest worked like an army of ants and carried the confiscated aid behind their backs to the cleared vehicles. As quick as the officials took the aid out, we put it back in again! This was a victory for us, and it went on until 6am when the officials left us to go home. Practically all the aid they took out, we had put back in again. We had turned a bad situation into a positive one, and the stupidity of the officials was exposed by their failure to see what was going on!
The following morning we awoke to the dreaded thought of them having to go through our vehicle and the others they hadn’t got to the night before. Thankfully for us, (and them), the Government relented and allowed us to carry all our aid. They had gone around us and the other vehicles asking what we had on board. Of course by that stage, all the aid in the remaining vehicles had turned into medical aid. We had covered our load with “hypothermia blankets”, and when questioned, this was all we were carrying. It became a joke to hear them ask question after question about the aid on board each vehicle, and to hear the answers given was hilarious. They had held up a wind up torch and were told it was a pacemaker! Generators became heart monitors and incubators, saws became surgical saws, clothes became maternity wear, and just about everything else magically turned into medical aid. It became a total joke, and we had the last laugh when about noon on Monday, every vehicle rolled out of the car park and made the 50 km journey towards the Rafah border destined for Gaza…….
At the border, we waited for a couple of hours for the paperwork to be completed and passports stamped, and then around 4pm, the gates opened and we drove across the border into Gaza. It was a feeling that I find difficult to put into words. After 25 days on the road, over 6,000 miles driven, we finally got into Gaza. Tears flowed like rivers from each and every one of the convoy members, and the feeling among us was a sight to witness. It was a moment in time that you would just love to freeze, such was the excitement.
Following our crossing, we were greeted by the Palestinean government at the border, and given the warmest of welcomes.
We then proceed to drive into Gaza city, a distance of about 25 kms. Thousands and thousands of people lined the drive to Gaza city. They wanted to shake our hands, take our photo’s, touch our vehicles, wish us well, thank us, and bless us. We were in total shock as we drove along the road, and very humbled to receive such a reception. What this convoy meant to the people of Gaza is so hard to explain. The hope, joy, thanks and relief in their eyes as we drove along was amazing. It was such a proud moment for everyone to drive along the road into Gaza city. We had all made such an effort along the way, and finally we had made it to Gaza. We were very happy people indeed……
In the city centre, we were all parked in a large car park, and people were coming over to each and everyone of us to shake our hands, hug us, kiss us, and thank us for making the journey. Not only was it a great feeling, but it was very humbling as these people are the real heroes. People in wheel chairs, people on crutches, old, young, all affected by the war lined up to thank us, and all we could do was thank them. They were the real heroes. Following a reception, we were split into groups and taken to various acommaditon for the night.
The following morning we were taken on bus tours around the city to visit the areas hit hardest in the war. No one on the convoy could believe what we saw. Street after street were demolished, home after home flattened, factory after factory ruined, tree after tree uprooted, their water treatment facility wrecked, their sewage works destroyed, the sea polluted, and what wasn’t bombed or bulldozed was shot to pieces. 51 Mosques were destroyed, police stations flattened, ambulances destroyed, hospitals attacked, schools bombed, and just about everything wrecked. We were drove around in total shock belief and horror. What we had seen on TV did absolutely no justice to what had really happened. It was very easy to see how the media had been censored on what images they. had shown us. The heaviest damage was inflicted on the areas closest to border with Israel. It just went to prove what the war was really about. LAND. They had flattened and destroyed so much land, leaving the Israelis in a position to capture it when the next opportunity arises.
The people of Gaza are left with no resources to re build their homes as the raw materials are controlled by Israel, and they have no chance to re build. This effectively leaves them with no other option but to move further in land, leaving the land and bombed out homes behind. This is ethnic cleansing on a scale so big I find hard to describe. My pictures will give you an indication, and you can make up your own minds. The bombing by the Israelis continue on a daily basis, and 1 hour after we toured the area, they bombed it again! It just keeps going on, and the media fail to report it again and again. Shame on them, shame on them, shame on them.
Following a large civic reception in our honour, we were broke into groups and taken to various places around the city to witness what had happened to different groups in Gaza. A fellow convoy member from Gaza had arranged for me to go to the Gaza City Sports Centre where a 5 a side soccer match was arranged for us. We had a “Convoy 5” select play the a Gaza city select. Our team was kitted out in Dungannon Clarkes GAA jerseys, and did very well in the match, scoring a very dubious penalty to draw the game at the end 2 – 2.…..… Following the match, there was a civic reception held in their boardroom / trophy room where I presented them with over 50 Dungannon Clarkes jerseys in various sizes. I also presented them with 30 Armagh childrens jerseys, shorts and socks, that had been donated by O’Neills in Strabane. They were absolutely delighted and so thankful for our gifts, and I assured them that this wouldn’t be the end of the aid that we will help them with. Upon my return, I hope to be able to raise funds for their club which provides so much for the people of Gaza.
Yesterday morning, Wednesday, I visited a local school and presented them with more jerseys donated by O’Neills and the Sligo Co. Board. I had Dublin and Sligo jerseys for them, and to see the kids scramble for a jersey, quickly put it on and then run like mad after a football around the play ground was very emotional for me. Maybe one day they can grow up learning to play Gaelic, and who knows, they could line out for Dublin who are in need of new talent at the minute…………….
At 11am, our trip to Gaza was over and we had to say tearful goodbyes to our hosts and make our way to the Rafah border. At the border, about 20 of us decided that we were not going to cross, and that we wanted to return to Gaza and offer whatever help we could. After a 2 hour delay, we were strongly advised by the Palestenian Government to return as they could not guarantee when we would be able to leave due to the fact that the Rafah crossing is controlled by the Egyptians, and only opened once every 6 weeks or so. And that is only to let medical aid only into
Gaza. Some decided to stay anyway, and for the rest of us we crossed the border wishing we could stay longer. However, when we get home our work will continue, and we will do our very best to publicise what we had seen, and double our efforts to raise more money and aid for the people of Gaza.
When we got on the bus, an American woman boarded the bus with a young Palestinean girl who had a very serious facial disfigurement. She was attempting to bring the child back to the US where she was going to arrange specialist surgery for the young girl. The childs father got on to say goodbye, and he was in floods of tears as he told us he had been trying for 7 years to get his daughter treatment outside of Gaza. It had a serious effect on all us on the bus, and we were again left in bewilderment as to how this could happen. If this girl was in the “western world”, money would be raised, television and press would follow her, and she would receive the best treatment money could buy. However, because she is from Gaza, she can’t even get to see a specialist doctor! Just an another sad example of what is really going on in Gaza.
After crossing the border, we took a taxi into Cairo, where we arrived at 2am last night. I hope to unwind here and get a filght tomorrow or Saturday and return home. This journey has not only been amazing for me, but also for each and every other person on the convoy. We will all go home and tell all our friends and family what about what we experienced, and what we saw in Gaza. It makes us all so sad and angry to have witnessed the destruction and loss of life in Gaza. The people we met in Gaza were without doubt the warmest and friendliest we have ever met. They are so well educated, and speak fantastic English. Why they have to suffer so much, make do with so little, and try to live a humble life and the whole time they are been attacked by Israel with the backing of the western world just beggars belief.
In 2009 to see such cruel things happen is just unbelievable. So, tell everyone you know about what I have saw, show them my pictures, make them read what I have wrote, phone your politicians, contact all the press you know, and do whatever you can to educate everyone as to the full extent about what is REALLY happening to Gaza and it’s citizens. It must stop, and we can all play a role in trying to stop what is happening to our fellow human beings. We can make a difference if we try………………………….
I will leave you with some cold hard facts about the recent war inflicted by Israel / U.S.A. on Gaza
1455 dead, of which 405 were children, and 115 were women.
5,303 injured, 1,815 of whom were children and 785 women.
5 hospitals destroyed.
33 clinics destroyed
16 medics killed
15 ambulances destroyed
179 schools badly damaged, 10 totally flattened
153 Mosques badly damaged, 51 flattened.
11,000 dunums, 140,965 Olive trees, 136,217 Citrus trees and 10,000 Palm trees were destroyed.
$30 million damage to the poultry and cattle industry.
The total losses inflicted on Gaza after the 23 day Israeli war is $2.8 billion.
Folks, that is the cold hards fact, and the reality of what I witnessed in Gaza. You can make up your own minds, I know I have.
Pictures can be viewed by clicking on the following link
Tyrone in Gaza
John Hurson

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So, the last few days have been a hedy mixture of emotions. My Arabic friends,R, who is staying with us for a few days, and T, who lives close by, have been attempting to teach me some basic Arabic . They have also been giving me an insight into Arabic culture, as a woman and as a  guest in Gaza. My friend L, in Gaza, has already told me what the best clothing is to bring. For the first time in my life, i am glad i do not have the body that looks good in mini skirts and boob tubes, so my wardrobe of cover up clothes is pretty appropriate. !!!

Emotions have been all over the place, excitement at the idea of a whole new life for whatever length of time, fear of the unknown, doubt as to whether or not i can even try to make a difference, guilt at leaving some people behind, excitement again to meet up with my friends in Gaza again, and of course…………..hope that the ginger for the journey .keeps the seasickness away!

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People in general amaze me, right now in the middle of a recession, with everyone facing hard times, you still have been clicking to our blog, reading the links and donating………..yes, donating , from all your hard earned money, and for this i am truly thankful .

From the money donated, i will only personally use whatever little i need for my basics, (and only once i actually get there). Everything else will be used to help the people of Gaza. For example,

 Just lately , in the samoud  refugee camp in jabelia, the “FREE GAZA PLAY CENTRE” has been opened. It is a basic tent used for children to come and play , like any child is entitled to.  But it has trained councellors and youth leaders, (all of whom have experience in pyschosocial work with children )who help the children , through play, to speak about what they have just lived through .  . Some have been injured, most have seen things no child should ever have to see, many  have lost whole families etc.  A percentage  of your kindly donated money will go towards helping to buy essentials for the play centre, toys, food, clean water. Again , thank you so very much.

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