Thursday 4 June 2020

Women visitors in Bradford

Molly Kenyon writes:
My co-host Riffat Akram and I were pleased to help Bradford receive visitors from Abu Dis.   Of the eight gatherings arranged for Im Shadi and Fatheya, several could provide ongoing contacts.

We were grateful for active participation from our local branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.  Their AGM was arranged to showcase this visit, and was well-attended despite growing awareness of Covid-19.

Bradford Community Broadcasting interviewed our visitors live on air, and recorded a more in-depth interview.  Fatheya and Im Shadi also recorded a greeting in Arabic for International Women's Day, to be broadcast alongside greetings in other languages from women across the world.

Young students from Belle Vue Girls' Academy felt deeply honoured to meet our visitors, and would like to create a link with a school in Abu Dis.  

The Muslim Women's Council held a special meeting with passionate discussion of the injustices faced by Palestinian people. 

Another discussion which explored relationships, faith and political issues was hosted by faith-to-faith workers at Touchstone   

At the only Peace Museum in the UK the long-running conflict in Palestine was placed alongside other world-wide and local struggles for justice.  

At a musical evening, strong feelings of anger, despair and hope were shared in a different way - including Palestinian songs from Fatheya. 

The final event - with special thanks to Riffat as host - brought together 20 women to prepare and eat maqluba alongside far-ranging conversations about issues of justice and peace.

We hope this visit deepened awareness of Palestinian issues among people in Bradford, also that our visitors gained some knowledge of our city's strengths and weaknesses.  A visit linked to International Women's Day was a good way to share what women have achieved, and the challenges we still face.

Palestinian women speaking out in Hastings!

Thank you to Fadwa and Rudayna for their fascinating talk tonight on how the illegal Separation Wall negatively affects women's lives in many different ways, from denying them their health and reproductive rights to their right to a family life. The village of Abu Dis, where Fadwa and Rudayna live, was once part of Jerusalem but is now cut off from the city by the Wall and the lives of all Palestinians, within and without, are governed by colour-coded IDs.

In 2016 Rudayna suffered a health crisis but was forced to wait over 24 hours for a permit to visit a hospital on the other side of the Wall – once, a five minute walk from her home – and the delay meant doctors had no choice but to remove her womb in order to save her life. Now, thanks to that day-long wait for a permit to go to hospital, she will never be able to have children. This is just one of many examples of how the Wall and system of identification represses Palestinian women and denies them their basic human rights.
Today, the Wall snakes through and encircles whole Palestinian towns, villages and lands, dismantling families, preventing young people from enjoying relationships with those on the other side of the Wall, or even marrying, and restricting access to vital medical services.

Meanwhile, a plethora of complex legislative measures works to displace Palestinians in Jerusalem by revoking their residency rights and making ordinary life impossible . As Manar, a Jerusamelite mother-of-five put it: 'The wall is a racial tool and restricts our freedom of movement, making us susceptible to ridicule, humiliation and degradation.'

Cadfa Comes to Cornwall by Tara Seaborn

I discovered CADFA via social media at the beginning of February this year and I am very glad that I did. I live in Cornwall, approximately 275 miles from Camden and the UK CADFA HQ . I was delighted when it was suggested that part of the Palestinian Women’s visit could include a visit to the Cornish coast. Cornwall’s natural beauty and charm makes it a lovely place to visit and is often a welcome change from the cityscapes but when planning the visit the level of support for the Palestinian cause was an unknown quantity.
Initial enquiries were encouraging and we soon had a meeting lined up with The Women’s Centre in Bodmin and an evening event at Cafe CHAOS in Truro.
The ladies travelled by sleeper train and arrived in Truro on a mild early spring morning. I had already met Abeer and Eman in Palestine back in February and it was lovely to catch up. It was great to catch up with Nandita too and find out more about CADFA’s history.
Life’s a beach
A visit to Cornwall would be incomplete without a trip to a beach. The weather was fair so we ventured out to Perranporth to see the Atlantic Ocean and admire the views whilst walking along the coastal path. This is such a contrast to the reality of daily life in Abu Dis and Palestine as a whole. I have always realised that I am very fortunate to live here and the thought was even more prominent in my mind after my recent trip to Palestine with CADFA.
Women unite
The ladies at The Women’s Centre in Bodmin had agreed to hold a lunch meeting with us.They were very friendly and hospitable, providing a lunch of traditional Cornish pasties, salad, hummus etc. It was a very productive meeting. The women from the Centre were keen to find out more about CADFA and were particularly interested to hear about Sumood, the women’s group that Eman runs in Abu Dis. The Women’s Centre Cornwall has subsequently made a donation to Sumood and hope to become a sister organisation to the group. Some of the staff there have expressed a wish to visit Palestine in the future and I hope that it will be possible once the current pandemic is over.

CHAOS reigns!
Our evening event was held at Cafe CHAOS(Community Helping All Of Society) in Truro. Babs Rounsevell, CHAOS’ creator had kindly allowed up to take over the cafe for the evening and provided refreshments. The event was well attended with over thirty people coming to hear the women speak. We had people of different ages, race and religion and they all came together to show their support for Palestine. Abeer and Eman delivered informative and impassioned speeches. The audience were attentive and some were inspired to move into action.There are now plans to arrange meetings, events and fund-raising activities in and around Truro, in partnership with CADFA as soon as circumstances allow. We held a collection after the event and raised £137.50 for CADFA. Once again, we made positive connections and raised awareness about Palestine.

It was a long but successful day and I think we achieved what we set out to do. Nandita, Abeer and Eman retired to their rooms after 9pm and before we knew it another day had dawned and they were on their way to Salisbury for their next set of adventures. I was very impressed by all three ladies’ ability to keep the momentum going and their unshakable enthusiasm for their task. I hope that the visit was enjoyable and worthwhile. I also hope that we meet again, whether it be in the UK or Palestine.

Sunday 8 March 2020

Art exhibition

There was an interesting art exhbition at Cafe Palestina - We went there and did some talks as well

A very early morning

We left Bradford at ten to six in the morning - a long journey by coach.

When we got to London we went to Calthorpe  Community Gardens for their International Women's Day - This was a party with a play and singing and a Palestinian stall and other things -

Thursday 5th March

We went for a short time to a museum and later went with Molly and Riffat to a Muslim Centre - there were many people there and we did another talk. We had tea with them.

Then we went to a centre called Touchstone, listening for change - and met women from other religions and other nationalities, to have a chance to talk. They interviewed us about Palestine.

We went shopping to buy food to make maklubeh and we worked with other women to make meal for the evening, for all the people who came to an International Women's Day at Riffat's house - There were people from different backgrounds. After we ate, we talked, and after that Fathea sang

Women's meeting with musicians

We went to the Peace Theatre and Bradford Museum, just to see -  and then went to Riffat's house where we met musicians (and Fathiya also sang). They asked us to talk about our lives in Palestine - they asked a lot about schools and women - there was cake and tea