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Dundee–Nablus

Twinning Association

رابطة توأمة نابلس دندي

DNTA - Convener's Report 2016

Presented at the DNTA AGM on 21st June 2014

I am pleased to be able to report on a very active year for the Dundee-Nablus Twinning Association with many plans and ideas for future development.

Nablus continues under occupation and this was highlighted when four DNTA members visited Nablus in October last year. We passed through Huwara checkpoint where Israeli soldiers were using tear gas and live bullets in response to rock-throwing young men. One of our party visited the hospital to see those who had been shot as result.

But we also saw many positive and enthusiastic people in Nablus who were determined to do their best to develop their city. The Mayor of Nablus, Sameeh Rawhi Tubaila, invited us to meet him and told us of his plans.

We met Greta Viltrakyte who DNTA supported financially while she spent 3 months working in Nablus with Project Hope. They made us welcome at an evening social event. It is good to see so many internationals visiting Nablus and becoming closely involved in its life and development.

We met Naseer Arafat, noted architect and historian of Nablus, whose book we have written about in earlier reports. He made us welcome and we discussed his visit to Dundee. This happened while I was still in Nablus so I am grateful to those who made him welcome here. His visit was inspiring and informative.

We visited two schools keen to twin with Dundee and I am pleased to report that this twinning continues to develop with links established and materials exchanged. We hope this will continue to grow.

Our major project of the year was to support children suffering trauma and grief. Many children in Nablus have witnessed frightening military incidents, lost family members or had friends and family imprisoned. As a result they suffer nightmares and other debilitating conditions which can have a serious impact on their schoolwork and relationships. Thanks to the expertise of Dr Ian Barron from the University of Dundee, it is possible to give practical and effective assistance. This was achieved by training school counsellors who can deliver the program to the schoolchildren affected.

We raised the £2,200 required by donations and a Lunch for Nablus event on 21st April. Dundee West church kindly made their hall available for our event and supported it in many ways including cooking and organising. Their advice was invaluable.

On Sunday 10th April, prior to the event, Gordon Sharp (acting minister at Dundee West) invited Jane Barron and Mohamad Issa (both on our committee) to participate in the Sunday service to explain to the congregation why we were holding the event. This was an excellent opportunity to fulfil our mission of telling the people of Dundee about the City of Nablus and its people. The response was encouraging.

We also formed a relationship with Dina Makins, an artist working with images inspired by children and war. She exhibited some works at our lunch event and is hoping to visit Nablus.

The project strengthened our relationship with FONSA (Friends of Nablus and Surrounding Areas, a registered Scottish charity). We have broadly similar aims and were able to co-operate in this project; FONSA, being a charity, can claim gift aid on the donations which enhanced the total we deployed.

November brought the 35th anniversary of the twinning. In celebration we showed the film "Words: Walls" at DCA followed by a discussion. We enjoyed having with us the film's director - Gregory Metcalfe. The film followed Liz Lochead and other Scottish poets and artists in a visit to Palestine.

Also in November, I represented DNTA at the AGM of the Britain Palestine Friendship and Twinning Network. We were unsure how useful this would be but it turned out to be good to meet other groups trying to improve links between people in the two countries.

One such link has taken wings. The patron of BPFTN is Sir Vincent Fean who was UK Consul General in Jerusalem until he retired. He is now working to encourage UK Universities to offer scholarships to Palestinians. The British Council then offers maintenance support under its HESPAL (Higher Education Scholarships Palestine) programme. Sir Vincent and I have been grateful to our members Professor Graham Ogden and Dr Ian Barron who have helped to prepare and present a convincing case to the University of Dundee. This effort is continuing.

For completeness I should add that the University of Abertay has already signed a co-operation agreement with An Najah University in Nablus but we might consider how they could participate in HESPAL. And many of you will know that University of St Andrews already has a Palestinian scholarship programme supported by the STEPS charity.

Thanks to the work of our Membership Secretary, Catherine Rice, we have been updating our records and contacting members to keep subscriptions up to date. We are a membership organisation and depend on the subscriptions, attendance and support of members for our strength.

The committee has met monthly during the year with my thanks to all those who attend and for the Dundee City Council providing the Twinning Room as a venue. Despite the need to transact our business, meetings are often interesting with their funny side. This year Jane instigated an innovation of having one meeting in Cafe Sorrento when the Twinning Room was not available.

We would also like to thank Dundee City Council for their help. They provide funding and the Lord Provost has been willing to support our events whenever possible.

As our Treasurer, Mohamad Issa, reports we have had a positive financial year. Other committee members have contributed in many ways and I thank them all without naming each one but they are all listed below.

We end the year with a committed membership, a healthy bank balance and growing links with Nablus. With a city under occupation it is hard to know how optimistic one can be for the future but our role is to encourage friendship and understanding; I am sure DNTA - its members, committee and supporters will continue to do this with gusto.

This report covers the period 1st April 2015—31st March 2016

Committee Members 2015-2016

Mike Whitehead - Convener
Alister Rutherford - Vice-convener and Newsletter Editor
Mohamad Issa - Vice-convener and Treasurer
Bob Duncan - Lord Provost (ex officio)
Jane Barron - Secretary and Press Officer
Ian Barron - Nablus Liaison
Katherine Gray - Event Organiser
Christine Issa - Minute Secretary
Catherine Rice - Membership Secretary
Vanessa Stark - Event Organiser

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Speakers

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Friendship and Understanding

We promote friendship and understanding between the people of Nablus and the people of Dundee.

Young people from Dundee and Nablus
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FONSA

Friends of Nablus and Surrounding Areas

A Scottish charity which supports Palestinians in and around Nablus.

FONSA