July 16th, 2005
Now the opening of the Gathering is only one day ahead
and the things that need to be done seem to become more practical. And
a sense of urgency is getting hold of the group. The result of this
was that we engaged in a large cleaning activity. The main meeting hall,
which is located on the fourth floor story, was the centre of all activities
to begin with. A large number of plastic chairs were cleaned, the floor
was scrubbed and the windows were cleaned until they were shining as
bright as the Sun. We really put Cinderella to shame! And when all of
that was done, the activities moved towards the staircases. The staircases
turned into a wild streaming river turning into waterfalls as the water
To cut it short: it was playtime!
We had a second meeting with representatives of the Al
Khader Municipality to talk about where and how the trees should be
planted along The Median Strip; the strip that divides the road in question.
I don't know if I have mentioned this previously, but the Mayor has
already decided that, regardless of previous agreements, he would rather
have decorative trees than the olive trees that have already been purchased.
This time, workers from the Municipality have come up with a few other
ideas and requests:
What we weren't expecting of course is that they expect
us to cover the costs and organise all of it!
It will take us time and a lot of patience to convince
them that some things just can't be done (new soil can be achieved unless
a miracle happens) and that simple solutions for the watering of the
new plants have to be found. For these problems, we may have suggestions
for solutions; that would mean involving all schools in the area and
asking the parents of schoolchildren to take responsibility, etc.
We will be making a visit to the Governor of the area
tomorrow and see what he can do for us.
Now that we are getting closer to the start of this programme,
more and more people have started to show up (about half of the expected
group of internationals are in) which means that it is time to start
the registering of participants and collecting fees. Because we try
to keep the costs for the participants as low as possible, this whole
fee issue is always a somewhat hazardous issue. We decided to charge
a daily fee and charge for workshops and trainings separately. So people
only have to pay for the days they actually are here and for the thing
they really participate in.
The participants come from all over the World (we already
have Americans, someone from New Zealand, and Europeans from at least
5 countries). So we have to deal with Euros, Dollars, Pound Sterling
and of course, New Israeli Shekels.
The only constant factor in this whole thing is the Opening
Day (and even that won't ring true all the time because some people
will arrive after the Opening).
Though I don't want to use this phrase again, I would
say it is quite a challenge to deal with it all, especially with all
The real problem always is that some people come to the
gathering misinformed. People think that the costs will be about half
of what they really are. (We charge $32.50 a day for full board) and
they just don't seem to have more money to spare. The budget for the
whole project is somewhat tight; we cannot afford to be complacent in
terms of money even if it involves a relatively small amount of money.
I am convinced that a solution will come up; we still have a whole Sunday
ahead of us before the party begins!