Saturday, October 29, 2016

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Help Walaa Al-Ghussein

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.

Many thanks.

Stanley Cohen.

Help Gaze Student Attend CUNY




Leonard W. Vona CPA CFE

2967 US Route 9 Suite 403

Valatie, NY 12184

Office: 518-784-2250

Fax: 518-784-2251

Mobile: 518-339-6748

lvona@leonardvona.com

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