Getting out of Gaza is no easy proposition. Returning is often more difficult. There are numerous legal and political hoops to jump through to make either journey possible. Last year, we were successful in making it possible for the sister of this student to attend Portland State University where she is now making family, and all of us, very proud. Our current student has prior history of attending Universities in the US and is acquainted with the hurdles. We are confident she will make this journey. (SEE UPDATES)
We believe that once you read about the achievements accomplished so far, and under such brutal conditions as exists in the Gaza strip, by this special individual (and the others on whose behalf we work) you will understand the efforts made to help them further their education and life endeavours.
The funds we seek will satisfy both the conditions set by the State Department and the University. Any amount above these requirements will be maintained as a reserve for unforeseen expenses that may incur and then addition to the safety reserve for the student.
Time is of the essence as our student has been accepted to CUNY Spring semester and must quickly secure her place at the University. We will update as needed to stress the true deadlines she must meet.
As long time supporters of rights and freedom for Palestinians and having many friends and acquaintances there, we understand the severity of their living conditions, the depth of daily struggle to survive, and the drive toward betterment and success which fosters the hopes and dreams they carry within. Education is vitally important for these students and is something they do not take for granted.
We greatly appreciate however much you can contribute to help us make it possible for this next student to meet her goals.
Please go on to read the Pensive Quill article which explains more. Follow the links to learn more about the desires and accomplishments of this brilliant young spirit..
Help Walaa Al-Ghussein
Saturday, October 29, 2016
(Stanley Cohen makes a funding appeal on behalf of Walaa Al-Ghussein, a resident of Gaza who is currently seeking to further her education in the US. Walaa Al-Ghussein has been actively involved in exposing Israeli terror against Palestinians.)
Walaa Al-Ghussein is a treasure; one of those rare shooting stars that lights up the sky when all else seems dark and hopeless. Although truly one of a kind, she is not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of other national and international treasures that call Gaza home. Young women and men of determination and drive who against impossible odds have survived … survived to dream, to study, to grow, to look to a brighter future … one where they are no longer merely a political statistic played out in a decades old perverse, often deadly, game of power orchestrated by Israel with the acquiescence of much of the world.
Recently, after a great deal of struggle and sacrifice, Walaa obtained her undergraduate degree at university in Gaza. Previously she had attended a summer long academic program in the United States where she excelled. Most important, as a participant at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, she discovered the freedom of academic pursuit… one where classmates were not killed, where electricity existed (not a rare privilege) to study by, where podiums did not stand empty because faculty had been disappeared or were detained at a border crossing closed for the fall, or the winter … or permanently; where textbooks were not censored by Israel or recycled year after year from necessity because of a punishing embargo intended to break the spirit and will of millions as little more than a brazen criminal act of collective punishment.
Not satisfied with studies alone, Walaa has played an active and vibrant role in the life of her community especially among other young women who look to her as very much a role model of self-determination and independence. In that capacity, among other efforts, she organized and oversaw a series of training programs for youth in Gaza and the West Bank which focused on women’s empowerment and leadership. She presented a working paper on Young Women’s Leadership and its challenges at a conference held at the Women’s Affairs center in Gaza. She has mentored many young women trying to balance the tension between community and personal aspirations.
She has worked as a journalist and photographer whose articles and photographs have appeared in such prestigious publications as Al Jazeera and Mondoweiss. She has contributed to a number of powerful documentaries on Gaza and, herself, been the subject of a number of reports on life under Israeli attacks and the permanent siege of the coastal enclave of some two million people.
Walaa helped organize, and chaired, an international conference in Gaza which was one of 10 cities chosen worldwide as part of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos which focused on development skills for young entrepreneurs. In 2012 she was a member of the Palestinian Youth Delegation at a conference, “Evolution for Palestine”, held in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia … and was the social media coordinator for the Conference. As part of her undergraduate studies, she worked as a teaching intern at both the Latin Patriarchate and Rosary Sister’s Schools in Gaza with 3rd and 10th graders.
Walaa was inspired by her time at Washington State University. Like no other place or experience, it was there that she discovered the world of academics, for her, a ticket to freedom … a boundless, exciting journey with the pursuit of graduate school a gateway to a future where she could not only realize great personal growth but share her passage and accomplishments back home with the many other young women and men of Gaza who look to her with a deep sense of pride and hope.
Recently, Walaa became the first student from Gaza to be accepted by the prestigious Graduate School of Middle East Studies at City College in New York. For her, CUNY… with its diverse population, world class faculty and location in the heart of the most vibrant City in the world has truly become a dream come true. She is scheduled to begin her studies this coming spring semester, which is not that far off. To enroll, Walaa must first obtain a student visa from the US State Department… a not quick procedure which ultimately is dependent upon sponsorship by a US citizen (who has just signed on) and a healthy level of financial security in her own bank account.
I write now to ask our extended family in Ireland, who better than most, have long known the pain of oppression and occupation, to help make Walaa’s dream a reality by contributing to a fund which we’ve set up under the supervision of a highly respected accounting firm in the United States.
For those interested in contributing by check, all it takes is an endorsement to Leonard Vona, CPA , with a reference to the academic fund for Walaa Al-Ghussein. For those who prefer a wire transfer from your bank account to the one overseeing this effort, under US law it’s a bit more complicated. Donors must first send an email to Mr. Vona identifying themselves and setting forth a very brief personal background. This will be followed up by information from Mr. Vona on how to complete the transfer.
For a closer look at the thoughts and words of Walaa, I’m enclosing a link to her application statement to CUNY as well as a number of other links which reflect some of her work.
Leonard W. Vona CPA CFE
2967 US Route 9 Suite 403
Valatie, NY 12184
Former IRA volunteer and ex-prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh, 4 years on the blanket andno-wash/no work protests which led to thehunger strikes of the 80s. Completed PhD at Queens upon release from prison. Left the Republican Movement at the endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement, and went on to become a journalist. Co-founder of The Blanket, an online magazine that critically analyzed the Irish peace process.
We are happy to announce that Walaa has safely made her way out of Gaza after several months of effort. We are, however, woefully shy of meeting the $15k needed to insure her place at CUNY.
Walaa will be the 1st Gaza student accepted in the prestigious Graduate School of Middle East Studies at CUNY. This is a great accomplishment for her, personally, and for Gaza.
We are so thankful to all our donors. We know that finances, for some, are tight in this season. Every gift, whether $1 or $1000, is celebrated by us as it makes the dreams of this shining star ever closer to reality. Please tell all your friends and family about this campaign, about Walaa, and ask them to help us help her.
Filed under: Activism, Al-Jazeera, Culture and Heritage, Freedom, Gaza, Gaza children, Life under occupation, Occupation, Uncategorized | Tagged: Al-Jazeera, CUNY, Education, Gaza, GOFUNDME, Grad School, Middle East, Mondoweiss, United States, Walaa Al-Ghussein | Comments Off on This Is An Urgent Appeal To Aid Walaa al Ghussein