Tashirat Newsletter – February 2014

Dear Friends,

We've had a lot of exciting activities going on since December, much of which centered around the many visitors we often receive around this time of year. We've had many volunteers come and go (or come and stay) over the holidays and new volunteers continue to arrive.  

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Our Christmas and New Years events are always our big parties of the year. After the kids performed their show (2nd and 3rd times round respectively!), the grand finale roused the crowd into an impromptu dance party with all the kids and audience.  Residents, students, volunteers, staff and older children later gathered for dinner which ended in a jam session. Some guests, lacking instruments, raided the kitchen for anything else they could make an instrument out of.

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We started a "new" New Year's tradition here at Tashirat. Our friend Eman from United Muslim Relief, brought quantitities of safe, non flammable hot air lanterns, on which everyone wrote their wishes and dreams for the New Year. The lanterns were then lit, bearing everyones resolutions into the night sky.

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Two service groups spent the holidays with us. United For Service (www.unitedforservice.com) spent Christmas week with us and did some amazing work in the avocado orchard and with the kids.  Their dedication to helping our projects is a wonderful support and we so appreciate the enthusiasm and dedication of the young women involved. Maria, Maysa, Hawa and Salehah thank you so much for your work with the kids and your continued work with our Avocado Orchard Project. 

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The following week United Muslim Relief (www.unitedmuslimrelief.com) came with 15 girls in tow!!  The girls worked really hard clearing out the avocado orchard of all of the thousands of stones that make maintenance impossible there.  Thank you girls so much for your hard work for so many days and for spending such quality time with the kids!!  We look forward to working with all of you on future projects and hope that you can come and visit us all again.

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We have completed major work on the avocado orchards, thanks in great part to the help of many volunteers but in particular to our good friend, past volunteer, and child sponsor Craig Smith, who really took this project as his own and stayed almost two months this winter helping to implement the orchard's new irrigation system!

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We have also been lucky to have some great new volunteer researchers helping from afar. Recent volunteers Saeeda and Ammerah have been helping us come up with new curriculums and on-line study options for our school as well as grant opportunities after their 2nd visits to Tashirat this winter.

Over the holidays, it's our tradition to take donations of food and clothing to the families close by in greatest need. Our kids also got really into fixing and wrapping up toys they selected from their own rooms to give to the children.

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Every year Grandma Kristen and Grandpa Tom come to visit. It is really special for all our children to have grandparents who come to visit them each year without fail. Tom and Kristen have developed a relationship with each and every one of our children, their many, many grandkids, over the years. It has become a part of our holiday tradition for Grandma and Grandpa to make their rounds from home to home on Christmas morning, bringing a special gift for each one of the children. We so loved having them with us again this year, it is always a real highlight of the season!

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Overall, this has been a very busy and exciting time for us, refining the organization of every area and making many internal movements that have positively provide for new growth!

Thank you all for your long distance support! We can't tell you how much we appreciate each and every one of you.

With lots of love,

Tashirat staff and kids

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