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All the latest from Gaza and Cheka Sana in Tanzania plus; Robert Cohen writes about what could happen in Palestine if the U.S. President gets re-elected in November; reports from recent trips to Nicaragua and Burundi; a guest article from Guardian journalist Jessie McDonald on Amies Freedom Choir; a piece by Palestinian musician Samir Eskanda on the cultural boycott of Israel and full details of our emergency Coronavirus Appeal plus an update from all our partners on how Covid–19 is affecting their work.
This edition also features the poem A Portable Paradise by the 2019 TS Elliot Prize Winner, Roger Robinson, an advert for Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley’s new cook book, Falastin and full details of all our up-coming rescheduled trips and events.
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2nd April 2020
We very much hope you are keeping well. You would normally be receiving our printed newspaper at this time — we explain further down why we are not mailing out the Spring edition.
For most of us these are unprecedented days. I had originally planned to write to you about a visit of a group of young women from our partners in Tanzania. These young women are integral to the vision of On Her Terms and we were planning for them to come and do a tour around the UK to teach self-defence to other women.
We never expected that it would be self-isolation rather than self-defence that we would be teaching each other. And we never imagined a scenario in which many of our activities would be cancelled or postponed until the autumn.
The Coronavirus is affecting our partners in very different ways. We are particularly concerned for those working on the streets as they continue to work with children and young people who are either being assigned to hugely inappropriate holding shelters or are simply being ignored. And, of course, for our partners in Gaza, where the spread of the virus after so many years of blockade and depletion of essential medical supplies, would be a disaster.
But what is most striking is that as we speak to each of our friends and partners, we are humbled by their concern for us and the unfolding situation in the UK. We will continue to post updates from them and identify creative ways we can raise awareness of their work and the issues they face — this last weekend a number of supporters used their exercise slots to show solidarity with the cancelled Palestine marathon.
We are posting ‘Seeds of Hope’ each day on our Facebook and Instagram and you can now also join our weekly ‘Words of Hope’ reflection at 5:00pm on Tuesdays — (please see below for details). We are excited that after Easter we will be able to invite you to join a new series of online talks and discussions with our partners and fellow activists.
We will be doing all this with a skeleton team as we have had to take the difficult decision to furlough staff and reduce wages in order to cut our costs. We have taken these steps to make sure, that once restrictions are lifted, we will be able to pick up our work and find creative new ways to challenge injustice, to bring hope and to create change.
For this reason, and as the Post Office has asked people to limit the post they are sending, we have decided against mailing out a printed copy of the spring edition of our Words of Hope newspaper and wanted to let you know it is available to read online from this page. It has fantastic articles by a number of guest contributors and also an update on how the first funds raised through our Coronavirus appeal have been used.
If you are able to support our Emergency Coronavirus Appeal please do. Our partners are all grassroots organisations and we believe that they will know the best ways to respond to their communities’ needs. We want to raise as many funds as possible and all donations will be hugely appreciated.
This Easter will be very different for all of us. Many of us will acutely miss those we love and with whom we would have celebrated Easter together. It feels as though we are going through the longest Good Friday, with no end in sight. So let us do all we can to make sure that people do not feel forgotten or ‘forsaken’, and hold to the Easter promise that the darkest moment is just before dawn and it is in our deepest despair that we catch the first glimpse of hope breaking through.
Director, Amos Trust
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