Hathihe Ramallah News July-September 2013

Correspondent: Julia Farhat

Triplets Layla Grace, Ryan Bishara and Caden David born to Mr. and Mrs.Bishara and Jennifer Landers Mashni.

Miss Cassie Marie Jones to Mr. Robert Daniel Mousa.  Their proud parents are Mr. and Mrs. Sam and Sandy Mousa and Mrs. Cathy Ann Jones and the late Mr. Frank David Jones Sr.


Regina Akel

Regina Akel, daughter of Eassa and Maysa Akel graduated from BishopKennyHigh School. She will be attending the University of North Florida.

Sub deacon Eric Bateh graduated from the Antiochian House of Studies, School of Orthodox Theology in Bolivar, Pennsylvania.  He completed the three-year Saint Stephen’s Course of Studies.  His proud wife is Mrs. Shereen Shunnarah Bateh and his proud parents are Mr. and Mrs. Ted and Jackie Bateh.  Congratulations Sub deacon Eric Bateh!

Justin Bateh earned a Doctor of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Leadership and Quantitative Methods from Walden University in June 2013.  Justin is continuing in a post-doctoral specialization in Applied Statistics through Penn State University. Currently, Justin holds two business faculty appointments at Florida State College and Jacksonville University.  His proud wife is Mrs. Lora Bateh, and his proud parents are Mr. and Mrs. Ted and Jackie Bateh. Congratulations Dr. Justin Bateh!

Arielle Green

Arielle Green, daughter of Famia Hawat Green and the late Robert Green, graduated from Citrus Heights Academy in Clermont, Florida.  She will be attending the Savannah College of Art and Design in the fall where she will be pursuing a degree in film and writing.  We are proud of our daughter and wish her the best.

Club News

Summer Hafla

On Saturday evening, July 27, our club hosted a Summer Hafla featuring Wassim Kattan from Miami, Florida.  Close to 300 people attended and they enjoyed food, fellowship and excellent entertainment. Huge thanks go out to our Entertainment committee, as well as our Officers and Board members who assisted with organizing this event.

Youth Club News

Youth Club Lock In

On Friday, August 2, twenty six members of our youth club participated in a lock in.  They had a fun filled night filled with food, fellowship, games and movies.  Huge thanks go out to our Youth Club Representatives, Mrs. Shereen Shunnarah Bateh and Mrs. Amy Mousa and for chaperoning the event.

Church News

Covered Dish Pool Social

On Saturday, July 20, The Fellowship of St. John the Divine hosted a covered dish pool social.  The attendees enjoyed fun in the sun, the pool and each other.  The event was a huge success.  Special thanks go out to Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan and Raoaa Essa for securing their community pool and to all who attended.

On the Move

Donna Farah Ghanayem

Mrs. Donna Farah Ghanayem, RNC, MSN was recently recognized by WJCT Public Broadcasting and Baptist Health as a 2013 Speaking of Women’s Health honoree.  She was one of only two women recognized for her outstanding efforts to enhance quality of life in our First Coast community through efforts in the fields of women’s health, wellbeing and personal safety.

Donna has supported and cared for women and children in our First Coast community (Jacksonville, Florida) throughout her career.  Currently director of community grants at Shands Jacksonville, she is also an active advocate for women’s issues.  Her community efforts include seven years of service on the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women, as well as volunteer efforts with Child Protective Services; the Public Health Committee and other community organizations.  Early in her career, she served as a labor and delivery nurse and bereavement counselor.

More recently, she worked with hospital leadership and the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition to implement the first hospital-based high-risk Health Start program in Northeast Florida at Shands Jacksonville; established and made available the first Health Start nutrition counseling services in NE Florida; launched a prenatal care program for the underserved population with incentives for keeping appointments and attending education sessions, and managed and operated a comprehensive residency lecture series for the community’s underserved population.

From personally interacting with patients to enriching the community through new programs to educate and inform she has enriched First Coast women and children in countless ways.   Donna is happily married to Salem Jalil Ghanayem and they have 3 children:  Nicole, Joey and Samantha.  Donna’s proud parents are Mrs. Suad Bajalia Farah and the late Nackleh Hanna Farah. Congratulations Donna!  We are very proud of you!

Local Palestinian American Sisters participate in Project Hope

Project Hope

Dalya and Tala Farah, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Eddie and Reem Farah traveled to Ramallah and participated in Project Hope. They agreed to blog their trip and their experiences were captured in The Florida Times-Union’s Jacksonville.com online page.  http://jacksonville.com/opinion/blog/575565/american-federation-ramallah-palestine-project-hope/2013-06-11/local-project

June 11, 2013 – 11:53AM
My sister and I have always wanted to be a part of Project Hope.  It is a program that allows its volunteers to work in the occupied city of Ramallah, West Bank, developing leadership skills as they promote Palestinian culture.

Our group consists of nineteen Americans from all across the U.S.A.  Though none of us knew the group before signing up, we all shared our Palestinian heritage and our excitement at the prospect at getting more familiar with that heritage. We arrived here in Ramallah on June 7th, after the exhausting journey from Detroit to Jordan and finally into Palestine.

In our first days of the trip we encountered the harsh reality of life in the occupied West Bank.  We were barred by Israeli soldiers on the bridge between the West Bank and Jordan (which spans the historical Jordan River), the infamous wall through Palestinian cities, and checkpoints along the roads.  Despite these conditions, talking to local people we found their spirit to be alive and well.

On our initial tour we visited children centers, implementing programs I never though the city had!  The music center, for instance, provides the children in Ramallah an escape to the realities of war through song.  We even met the founder, Ramzi Aburedwan.  Mr. Aburedwan gained notoriety as a young boy of ten when a photographer managed to get a picture of him throwing rocks at an Israeli tank after a sniper shot down his friend.  The photograph was seen worldwide and provided a glimpse into the realities of the situation people in the West Bank faced.

After leaving for France for years where he learned to play the violin, Mr. Aburedwan returned to Ramallah and opened his music school.  His contribution to Palestinian culture provides an example for those around him.  He is proof that there are non-violent creative methods to spread hope in the face of the Israeli occupation.

His example inspired us and today we are helping the city build a new public park.  We are excited and willing to do whatever we can to improve the lives of those here.  We hope our contribution can provide a place for the community to grow stronger, and more hopeful -Tala and Dalya

June 17, 2013 – 3:44PM
Part of the Project Hope is to show Americans the truth of the occupation in order to educate back home about its effect. Discrimination is still present as Palestinians are treated differently for example, being able to drive on certain roads. Also driving through the West Bank, Israeli settlements being built presents another struggle for peace. The illegal settlements built on Palestinian land by the government with modern technology stand next to the poverty facing the Palestinian villages. Trying to go to the Mediterranean Sea, we passed through a checkpoint. One member of our group tried to sneak a photo of the soldiers with loaded guns when a group of soldiers immediately began yelling in Hebrew and demanding the deletion of the photo. Deleting the photo, as if to leave this inhumane part of Israel unseen. Ordinary Palestinians are unable to cross the checkpoints unless given permission by the Israeli government.

June 17, 2013 -3:47PM
We attended the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) where famous activist for peace Hanan Ashrawi talked to us on the current political situation while giving us the history of the conflict. Despite the situation, they seem hopeful that a two state solution can be possible. Also, a leap for the country when the UN voted in favor of making Palestine an observator state instead of a disputed state. This decision gave the Palestinians a sense of statehood. We attended BerzeitUniversity where we were given a tour of the scenic campus and learned about the importance of education. Throughout the lecture, they repeated that education is a sign of resilience and that the Palestinians will always fight for it. The campus has been shut down 14 times by the Israeli government but the desire for education has never ended as teachers would hold classes in their homes for example. Also, it was a tragedy to hear that the university currently had over 75 student prisoners who were arrested solely because Israel thought they were a threat to their country due to non-violent political protests. We finished off the evening with dinner with the mayor of Ramallah. He held high hopes for the country and called us the “future of Palestine” and ambassadors for the Palestinian people as we go back to America. We are continuing to work on the public park and are excited to see the final product!

June 17, 2013 – 3:54PM
Today we attended the opening ceremony of the RadanaCommunityPark, which we helped build as part of our volunteer project. The ceremony was beautiful starting off with the national anthem performed by the kashaf (scouts) and many important speakers such as the mayor of the city and the chief of staff for President Abbas. There was a large turnout for the event as Arabic desserts were served and kids were eager to start playing in the park! Our group was excited to see the final product, and grateful with the public’s reaction. It may only be a park, but we feel that it has a greater purpose of improving the lives of the youth of our people and allowing them to live a more normal life despite the occupation.

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