Code Pink Canadian Delegations to Gaza

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In the latest efforts to break the siege on Gaza, Col. Ann Wright shares her observations in this blog as she an eight shift flotilla aiming to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza, and to open the borders. Following on the successful delegation of March 09 (which included rabble publisher, Kim Elliott), more than six further Code Pink delegations, including a delegation of Canadian Members of Parliament, traveled from Cairo to Gaza this summer to pressure the opening of Rafah border, and an end to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The border has effectively been closed since July 2007, when Israel imposed a blockade. Delegation members Kim Elliott, Sandra Ruch, Ehab Lotayef, Medea Benjamin, and Libby Davies have shared posts in this blog. For more on Code Pink's initiatives on Gaza, see: http://www.womensaynotowar.org/ . In December 2009 Code Pink and other activists joined the Gaza Freedom March. Canadian delegates David Heap and Wendy Goldsmith blogged on rabble while joining more than a thousand activists from around the word in an international action to open the borders to Gaza. For details of this initiative see: www.gazafreedommarch.org

On the road to Gaza: Day two in Cairo

| May 21, 2009

It is 5:30 a.m. and I have been up now for 2 hours.  The last 4 members of our delegation arrived at 4a.m. I can’t sleep.  For those of you who know me well – you know it is no surprise!!  I slept for 4 hours and hopefully will get a little more later.  So many things to think about – to plan and organize.

Yesterday was a very long ... did I say long?  Long, long day.  The plan was to buy lots of goods to bring to Gaza.  Beth was prepared to come with me and we had a few ideas of where and what we would do.  Fortunately we got help from my friends working in the Isis.  The same ones who helped Tighe to purchase all those 1000 pink baskets of goodies – no easy task.  The plan was to start at 2pm – sounded very reasonable but I got a call to go at 11a.m. to look at running shoes. 

We decided to buy uniforms for 40 children in Jabalya at a youth centre there.  It was a request from Mohammed who is now coordinating our itinerary in Gaza.  He is a young man – a film maker.  We met on my last trip and he has been emailing me and now has been contacting NGO’s in Gaza to arrange for us to visit.  He gave us the sizes to get and all that they would want.  We got 2 team colours (white and yellow  for one and red for the other)– shorts and shirts, socks, shoes, bags and 10 soccer balls.  Wow.  So much deciding – who knew it could take so long.  I might add that we didn’t have a car and I walked to the shoe shop – then back to the hotel to get money- then back to the shoe shop and then we took a cab with the shoes back to the hotel.  Already my feet hurt and I am tired but I only have 40 pairs of shoes!!

By 3:30 we have the uniforms ordered and now we are looking for toys.  At 11:30 a.m. I got a call from Rosa (leading the student delegation this week) and they were with the doctors’ syndicate.  These doctors have been in contact with Gazan doctors and know what is needed.  I ordered $2000USD in medical supplies.  Rosa and Ali will deliver them to us tomorrow – we have invited some of the student delegation to visit us tomorrow at the hotel.  (note to self – get some desserts, drinks and fruit).  There is a doctor from Gaza who is in Cairo now and I spoke with her yesterday morning.  She is coming to the hotel as well and has a few things for us to bring to Gaza.  Insha’allah (God willing) we are going to get in.

We are having a difficult time to find toys.  Beth stayed with our 2 shopping guides and went into a few stores looking for skipping ropes and balls, books, crayons, etc.  She got a few things and they will deliver them to us tomorrow as well.  We still haven’t found all we want so I will go out tomorrow to find more……..I have a friend who will help me today.

I left Beth shopping and headed back to the hotel.  I had to go out to the airport with the driver to pick up one of the delegates. ( a promise I made to one of the parents)  Her flight was half an hour late – due in at 6pm and we didn’t see her until 7:30pm.  By the time we got back to the hotel it was 8pm. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and I am afraid I also forgot to drink water…….got to make sure that doesn’t happen again.  Anyway – ordered a delicious Egyptian pizza….spicy with meat.  Delicious.  It is so nice to just order in food at the hotel – costs very little (half chicken dinner with rice is 15 pounds – so about $3 USD. 

Around 4pm I received an email from the bus company.  They report that the border is closed and that they cannot take us to the border at Rafah unless we have written permission from the Egyptian government.  We are told that we are just waiting now for security clearance.  Without the permit she tells me the police can stop us enroute.  We must make plans to go to Al Arish ( 20 minutes from the border) and we must have hotel reservations in Al Arish.  I called the hotel in Al Arish and made reservations.  I called our contact in Al Arish and he will arrange for us to meet with journalists and activists there.   I still have to decide how the rest of the day will play out.  But….we will be at the border everyday until we get in.  If you pray….pray!  If you visualize…..visualize!  If you have government connections……call them!!!!

6a.m. Thursday – tomorrow GAZA!

Peace and solidarity,
Sandra

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