Not unexpectedly, our shipment of gently worn soccer shoes for Gaza was held-up in Cairo. We've learned the shoes were transferred to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, as yet without release for transit to Gaza. Meanwhile, the Rachel Corrie Foundation's delegation of 10 were delayed at the Rafah, Gaza border, then allowed to enter with a whole bunch of soccer uniforms in their luggage!
I called the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to ask their help in resolving the hold-up so that the shoes can arrive at the Rafah, Gaza crossing in time for the Festival of Eid al Fitr. It is a significant challenge to open a blockade for 16 boxes of gently worn sports shoes -- would you like to help? In my experience, embassies and consulates respond better to U.S. Senators and Representatives than they do to mere mortals like us. I'm posting a guide below, describing how to reach senior staffers at your senators' and representative's offices to tell them about the soccer delegation and ask them to make two calls on your behalf.
Please tell them that the delegation of Americans who just entered Gaza are the family and friends of the late Rachel Corrie. They were invited by Rachel's friends in Gaza who are organizing the Rachel Corrie Ramadan Soccer Tournament, to attend the kids open day at the Unity Club Soccer Field in Rafah. One of the organizers wrote in the letter of invitation,
"With so much bad news in the media about the situation in Gaza, we wanted to let you know about a positive event that is under way thanks to collaborative efforts of people throughout our community, along with participation of individuals and groups in the United States and United Kingdom. We are talking about the Rachel Corrie Soccer Tournament for Youth.
The soccer tournament is in celebration of community. It's about bringing people together to create a window of opportunity for positive community interaction with all, regardless of politics or ideology."
-- Adnan, Rachel Corrie Sports Intiative
In the past, State Department officials have privately told me it is best not to mention Rachel Corrie because she is "too controversial to do your cause much good. " I hope our State Department will reconsider their approach and instead draw upon the broad network of trust and understanding inspired by the integrity of this brave American, and provide all possible assistance. This delegation will touch hearts in Gaza as only they can -- the shoes help extend that link to show that hundreds of Americans care.
In the years since their daughter, Rachel, was killed, Cindy and Craig Corrie have made a tangible difference in many people's lives, especially in Israel and Palestine. These photos show their work since 2003, much of it with the Rebuilding Alliance as board members.
In the fall of that year, during their first visit to the Israeli and Palestine, Cindy and Craig Corrie joined in the groundbreaking ceremony for the kindergarten we built in the West Bank village of Al Aqaba -- today it serves 130 children, with moms in a sewing cooperative upstairs!
In 2005, the Rebuilding Alliance brought members of the Nasrallah family whom Rachel sought to protect, to the U.S. to join the Corries in a seven state speaking tour to raise funds to rebuild their home -- that family is among the co-founders of the Rachel Corrie Sports
Initiative in Gaza.
The photo of Craig was taken while he was on the phone line in the "Homecoming Teleconference" we held in 2007 linking the Corries with the Nasrallah family to celebrate the opening of their completed new home (to hear Craig's moving message about Rafah and Rachel and Ubuntu, click here and download the MP-3 recording.) The photo below was taken by Craig when he and Cindy went back to Gaza in 2006. Cindy is holding the smallest Nasrallah children whom Rachel had once joined for Friday-morning cartoons "in a puddle of blankets." Rachel knew these children were inside the home behind her when she stood her ground before the bulldozer -- their lives and their future is part of her legacy.
Please do what you can to help lift the blockade that prevents gently worn shoes, and so much more, from entering Gaza.
In Rebuilding Peace,
Executive Director of the Rebuilding Alliance
How to Call Your Senators and Representative:
No matter how old you are, your congressman and senators represent you and are there to help. When you call,
1. Ask the receptionist to connect you with the senior staffer for foreign policy (be sure to write down their name);
2. Tell them you are calling to thank them for any help they may have lent in helping get the Rachel Corrie Foundation delegation into Gaza and tell them that you need their help now to lift the blockade to get getting gently worn soccer shoes to Gaza before the Rachel Corrie Ramadan Soccer Tournament ends.
3. Ask each staffer to call the State Department and the Egyptian Embassy on your behalf -- and to call you back to tell you what they learned;
4. Be sure to ask for their email and send them a confirmation email as soon as you put down the phone, writing your message in your own words, and providing your contact info for their return call.
Be polite. Give them the opportunity to help. Good luck! Feel free to call the Rebuilding Alliance if you would like some coaching: 1-650-325-4663