In 1952, several young students who lived in the United States wanted to unite the Ramallah community in the diaspora. Their aim was to have people in the United States stay in touch with each other so that they could retain their cultural identity. They established Hathihe Ramallah Magazine with correspondences in each community so that they can keep abreast of the latest news. Within months of launching the magazine, members of the community began organizing clubs in cities where a large number of Ramallites resided. As they organized the committees they realized that in order for the committees to succeed they must put together by-laws that would guide the new entities. A decision was made to unite the community under one Federation with local clubs in each major community.
On Sunday, September, 7, 1959, members of the community took the momentous decision to create a Federation and adopted interim by-laws and constitution. Today, there are 35,000 people from Ramalla living in the United States of America. They are concentrated in such major cities as San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Santa Rosa, and Los Angeles CA; Jacksonville, FL; Houston, TX; Detroit, MI; Chicago, IL; Washington, DC; Knoxville, TN; Lexington, KY; Greensboro, NC; Birmingham, AL; Cleveland, OH; Little Rock, AR; Buffalo and Hempstead, NY; Milwaukee, WI; and South Plainfield, NJ. In all these cities, chapters were formed making up the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine. The Headquarters of the American Federation of Ramallah Palestine was and is located in Detroit, Michigan.
In addition, the founders of the Federation resolved to have the Federation be non-profit entity with an elected executive committee. The purpose of the Federation was to organize the Ramallah communities in the United States; to use the united resources and its position as a national organization to lead and guide the people of Ramallah; to raise funds for charitable purposes which are of general welfare to the Ramallah people, and to establish better ties and understanding between the Ramallah communities in the U.S.A. and in Ramallah.
Today, the American Federation of Ramallah Palestine is considered the largest Palestinian Organization in the United States. It has celebrated of 54 years of uninterrupted services. Its bimonthly magazine Hathihe Ramallah continues to be the source of information to the people. Aside from the magazine, the AFRP established cultural, charitable, and social programs to support the Ramallah people in Ramallah and in the United States. Among the programs the AFRP adopted and fostered is the Ramallah Hospital. During the first convention, they approved the construction of a hospital and allocated $65,000. And they vowed to continuously raise money to ensure the success of the Hospital. In addition to the Hospital, the AFRP developed a Scholarship Fund to benefit Ramallah students in Ramallah and the diaspora. Today the Federation gives 60 scholarships a year to students who are attending colleges and universities. Half the students selected for the scholarships are currently residing in Ramallah.
The growth of the Federation and its programs is a testaments to the commitment of volunteers who give their time, talent and treasure to ensure the prosperity of the Federation. Each President and the Board of Directors make every effort to add or improve the programs adopted by the Federation. We work with the local clubs who have become the backbone of the Federation on variety of programs such as Arabic classes, Debkeh training, youth and women programs.
Over the years, the AFRP implemented many programs that highlight the Palestinian culture, including sponsoring the Sareyyet Ramallah and the Edward Said Conservatory group as they toured the United States. Working with the Federation, the local clubs have become the center for all kinds of activities for the people of Ramallah. For example, the Detroit club hosts an event every Thursday where men and women come together to socialize and enjoy each other’s company. In addition, the community gathers at their local clubs to raise money for the relief fund or work on civic service programs. In large communities, local clubs organize a major event to celebrate the election of board members and to raise money for variety of programs. Further, the community established the relief fund to support non-profit organizations in Ramallah, such as the Nahda, Mar Mansour and many other Palestinian and non-Palestinian organizations.
The crowning jewel of the AFRP activities is the yearly convention which is held in July of each year. The Federation developed the yearly convention to bring our community together from throughout the United States. More than 2,000 people gather at this wonderful yearly reunion where families get reacquainted with their friends and neighbors from Ramallah. The four days festivities ignite the spirit of Palestine in the minds and hearts of people attending the event.
Aside from all the cultural, humanitarian and educational activities, during the convention, the AFRP sets the agenda for the future. We elect a new cabinet and president. We evaluate our past accomplishments and build a strategic framework for significant success.
Despite the challenges we face with a scattered community, the AFRP developed many programs that impacts the lives of the Ramallah people. In 1997 the established Project Hope for young adult who travel to Palestine to volunteer their time in Ramallah and learn about their heritage. This year we launched the Medical Mission Program along with Project Hope. The mission of this program is to send our health care providers to Palestine to volunteer their times in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Our engagements in the community extend beyond our clubs and the Federation. Our members are encouraged to participate in civic and community programs in the greater communities. The American Federation of Ramallah Palestine work to ensure that the voice of the Ramallah people is a prominent voice in the American society. We work with various Palestinian and Arabic and Non-Arabic Organizations to support them in their missions. Our Youth regularly volunteers with their churches and charitable organizations. Many of our highly educated members of the Federation serve as leaders in
The AFRP presents a myriad of ways to engage in Palestinian life and celebrations in family-friendly way! From holiday festivals to community-wide celebrations; we are constantly exploring ways to introduce our children to our traditions and customs. We have picnics and holiday events where our children come together to meet and share their common heritage.
Realizing that the Future is as important as the present and the past, our Federation developed a Strategic Plans to ensure our future success. During our last convention in July, the Federation adopted six point plans that will ensure the success of the AFRP. The plans include leadership training for young and upcoming leaders, fiscal stability to ensure permanency for the Federation and cultural and civic service programs. At the AFRP, we believe that the best is yet to come. We continue to strive to achieve national prominence and be the bridge between our native homeland and our current home. Our success and strength are embedded in our belief that our service is essential to bringing the plight of the Palestinians to the forth front of the American society and to ensure that we remain a family connected for life.