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Ramallah Friends School: FUM General Board Report

A Happy New Year to all of you! May the New Year bring you and your loved ones joy and good health.

Here are some brief updates.

Ramallah Trip

I spent nearly two weeks in Ramallah in October. It was wonderful to spend time with the RFS staff, students and parents and to also see family and friends. It was reassuring to see the work moving forward with some great accomplishments that make us all proud. This was yet another reassuring affirmation of the exceptional talents of the RFS team.

The RFS Board of Trustees met on the 24th of October 2013. The four-hour meeting included a full agenda including the principals quarterly reports (available at FUM upon request), a revised budget submission, and a presentation from our newly appointed Facilities Manager, Farhat Muhawi. In brief the meeting included the following:

FGS principal Ken Hulslander seems to be doing just fine and adjusting well.  Teachers, staff and parents speak highly of him and of the changes he is introducing to the educational program at FGS.  He is revamped the English curriculum and worked with his admin team on a new program that is already yielding improved students’ discipline.

FBS Principal Mahmoud Amra will be working very hard with his team this year as the IB self-evaluation – an extensive undertaking – is scheduled for to be concluded in May 2014.

The Facilities Manager presented the campuses master plan we have been working on with the international architecture firm (Fielding Nair Inc.) The detailed plans for the new Middle School building was also presented, discussed and approved.

Northwest Yearly Meeting

Elizabeth Todd, Friend-in- Residence, seems to be doing fine and adding much value to our program. She is helping teachers improve their English by holding afternoon classes at both campuses, she is updating the school’s Facebook page with wonderful news and pictures and will soon start working on re-visiting the Quakerism curricula at the school.  Elizabeth is going to help us with re-designing the school website and is already taking on the task of giving visitors meaningful tours.   Elizabeth is also working on a Friend-in Residence volunteer program that she plans to promote within NWYM. I asked Elizabeth to add FUM constituencies in that endeavor.

Commercial Project

During my time in Ramallah, Dan Horrigan, OPIC legal Counsel, visited the school along with his colleague from the U.S. Embassy.  It was a fruitful visit and Dan expressed renewed confidence the project and in OPIC’s interest in supporting it.   Dan toured the school and the commercial building site. Meanwhile it seems we are about to close on the loan with OPIC in January. The FUM team and I have been meeting regularly (via conference calls) to make sure we remain on task. It is very exciting to know that our project that has been in the pipeline for so many years will finally see the light of day. We are so grateful for the efforts and perseverance of the FUM team, Norman Connell, Rich Liversidge, Colin Saxton, J.E McNeil and Sylvia Graves. The FUM Team will be reporting to the FUM Board on the specifics.

Facilities

The New Facilities Management Department is working systematically to upgrade and to care for the facilities. Starting fall of 2014, the newly appointed manager will also take over maintenance issues at both campuses.  Wonderful new areas have been renovated on both campuses during the past few months. A rubber floor and outdoor games at the new KG building and outdoor learning area at FGS (see picture) as well as a renovated science building that will include new art studios, including the first pottery/ceramic studio on campus. Most special, however, is the washing of the exterior of the main building at FBS. The building celebrates its centennial this year and we thought we owed it to this grand building that has been a most special and magical place for thousands who passed its halls or slept in its rooms or studied in its classroom.  We honored it by cleaning it and it looks marvelous.  This story is featured in Quaker Life.

Ramallah Monthly Meeting and the Friends International Center in Ramallah (FICR)

Attending meeting for worship at Ramallah Meeting House was an important part of my trip.  It was attended by ten people, some of our American teachers and my father, who has become a fixture there every Sunday morning.    Before my trip, a meeting was held in Sandy Spring, MD, to discuss the future of the Friends International Center in Ramallah (FICR) and its relationship with the Ramallah MM.   People gathered from New York, Ramallah, Philadelphia and elsewhere, while other joined through conference call.   It was a whole day event.  It was decided to close FICR as it jeopardized the meeting’s standing as a place of worship and the meeting was getting scrutinized by the authorities as a result. The previous committee will take on the name of “Friends of the Ramallah MM” or similar and will assist the RMM in its endeavors.

Fundraising

Strides are being made as I personally work on: 1) building relationships with key donors; 2) managing the alumni database as I plan for a Spring Alumni gathering in DC and 3) working on planned giving options with Henry Freemans’s advice. Also, the Bank of Palestine recognized our efforts and has committed $50,000 to help us with additional staffing to help with the fundraising efforts. The end-of-year online appeal generated over $16,000 in funds for RFS. Please see the attachment. I would like to bring your attention to the three examples of student/alumni achievements mentioned in the appeal. I am sure they will make you pride. Also, our winter newsletter is now online at this link: http://www.palfriends.org/winter10.pdf.

Wishing you the best during your deliberations.

Joyce Ajlouny
2 January 2014

For the original document of this report, view here.

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