We began the MiniActive program as a small, grassroots empowerment program. What we got was a social change empire!
Example: Last week’s winter storm. We don’t remember when we had such a storm. It had it all – heavy rainfall, strong winds, and, at the end, lots of snow. More importantly, it cause lots of infrastructure problems that stopped up the whole city. In East Jerusalem, because of appallingly poor infrastructures, apartments and houses were flooded, electrical and telephone lines were knocked down, and many streets were blocked because of fallen trees.
Enter the MiniActive women. They had already become adept at calling and communicating infrastructure problems with the municipal 106 complaint hotline. (See here) Many of them did not have electricity or telephones themselves. Liana, the coordinator, declared a state of emergency, dedicating the whole network to work to fix problems created by the storm. Five of them came to our offices on Mt. Zion to help Liana coordinate the complaints and handle the more difficult problems, and they went to work, utilizing the hundreds of women in the networks in the field.
And boy did they go to work! In a flurry of activity, they were in contact with the 106 municipal hotline, the electric company, the phone company, the water company. They became critical sources of information for these bodies. Our offices were abuzz from morning till night – with telephones, faxes, e-mails and Facebook posts – but most of the activity took place outside the office. On the day of the snow, Liana couldn’t get to the office. Instead she managed the whole operation via her iPhone. In just 48 hours the network reported 3,000 issues and tracked their resolution.
One case included moving a family whose house had been flooded and who has a handicapped son to a safer location. Another was making contact with the proper authorities for a woman in Abu Tor who was about to give birth during the snowstorm. (She was transported safely to give birth in the hospital.) A third was contacting the Municipality to deal with walls that had fallen into the street as a result of the storm. In yet another case families whose houses had been flooded were moved to alternative housing until they could return home. Without this information, the welfare department would have had had no idea how to locate the families.
We can only take our hats off to the MiniActive women, and thank them for their energy, persistence, and drive. Kul El-ihtiram! Shukran! (Bravo! Thank you!) And now, a glimpse of Jerusalem covered in snow: