Last week, the Irish FreeGaza boat was the first to set sail towards the Mediterranean to meet the rest of the flotilla. Here’s the letter Jenny (who first sent cargo by the FreeGaza boat Dignity when she shipped her warmest jacket over from Cyprus to keep me cosy through Gaza winter and war 08/09) had published in the Dundalk Leader yesterday.
One day after purchasing at auction, the then named MV Linda, my husband Derek and myself, along with 2 other activists, Fathi and Michael, climbed aboard a cold, dark ship and so began a long, hard, but rewarding journey involving many strangers who were not strangers for very long. Over time activists had to leave and crew arrived but Derek and i remained on board and began to mould into the life of locals on the port.
For over a month we lived aboard the cargo ship, which, gradually over time, became home , and we can now look back with pride and astonishment at what we all together have achieved ….so far. The now named, MV Rachel Corrie, named in honour of a young fellow activist brutally murdered in Gaza in 2003 by the Israeli Army, sailed with dignity , out of Dundalk port on Friday night, to applause, car horns, cheering , clapping and a mixture of emotions.
A lot of hard work went into getting this abandoned ship up to speed again , and was done in record breaking time. None of it was possible with out the support and solidarity shown to Derek and i , and indeed to our whole mission, by the people of Ireland , and predominantly by the peole of dundalk.
There are so many people we need to thank and will never be able to personally, there are so many people in the background that we cannot even name, but that we really feel deep appreciation towards. On behalf of the Free Gaza Movement, our coalition of partners and personally, on behalf of both Derek and myself, THANK YOU DUNDALK
There are some people we need to single out, for various reasons.
To Catriona and Roger, who took us under their wing at a very early stage and were there for us all the way. For me, i need to thank Catriona personally for listening to me moan and vent frustrations at times but just let me get it out……
To Paddy and Alan, for the good advice, the physical help on the ship, the apple cakes, the lifts everywhere , the company at night and indeed the chance to relax and laugh at times.
To all media outlets in dundalk, newspapers and radio, for their coverage of us throughout this whole journey and for their promise to keep us alive in the media. Special thanks has to go to Nicholas, who became a friend as well as a journalist along the way, and a painter at times also, along with his fellow thespian, noel……..
To Paul, who came and sorted out all our port holes and in doing so , got us through our inspections.
To the spirit store and all its staff and customers, who always opened their doors and poured the coffee, ( and other beverages) at all times for us, and for becoming our favourite local in dundalk
To Arthur and all local councillors for help, advice and all things political offered to help us on our way.
The tool box, who 5 minutes after a call went out for help with missing tools, got in touch and dropped down a donation of tools that meant we had generators working as soon as possible and our ship/home could become somewhat habitable .
A huge thank you goes out to everyone who made their way down to the port to offer their solidarity, to just shake our hands and wish us well, or to promise to follow our progress and call for our safe passage
Mete and all his student colleagues who offered their help and turned up, as promised, to help ready the ship for sailing. Mete has followed on with this and is now our free Gaza movement liaison in dundalk to dundalk fm, so keep in touch with him.
The wonderful Fiona, who effectively became our Paparazzi for the month and who can now black mail Derek and i with out-takes from video footage, (Latest amazing video from fiona at bottom of this post)
Jim Corr , for his use of helicopter on Wednesday to take our press guys out for footage.
The many shops and businesses in dundalk town and surrounds that gave us discounts and /or donated us various items we were in need off.
To all the port workers, the guys from the dredger, alan matthews, the fishermen, who all made us feel welcome and safe while living in the port, and for one fisherman in particular, for giving us the use of his boat to help paint our ship,
TO John, and his fellow painters for helping the Rachel look so good for her public and all the local tradesmen who helped get her back to her finest,
i am sure i am leaving out some people, and if so , i apologise, tiredness et al is my only excuse and not that your help was not noted and appreciated
The MV Rachel Corrie is now on her way to meet up with a flotilla of ships and boats to attempt once again, to break the siege on Gaza and to transport your generous amounts of aid to the besieged people of Gaza. The Rachel Corrie`s departure from Dundalk is only a chapter of the story, so please dont forget us , keep us in your minds and hearts and call out for our safe passage and our release if we are taken , and most importantly, demand the safe passage of your aid to gaza.
You can follow our progress on http://www.freegaza.org, or on our facebook page…free gaza-break the siege. Contact numbers for embassies and foreign affairs office will be posted on these in the event of our needing help. Call media outlets, contact councillors, td`s etc, use your web pages, blogs , social networking sites etc etc as we are totally reliant on our fellow supporters if/when we are denied passage.
To personally stay in touch with Derek and i , as we will stay long term in Gaza, unless taken by the Israeli navy again, check out www.irishingaza.wordpress.com.
We never know , with our lifestyle, if we will ever meet again, but you will always be a part of history , a story that started in dundalk and will , insh`allah (god willing) finish with the breaking of a siege and a liberation of a besieged people,
Be proud……….. we are,
With love, appreciation and solidarity ,
Derek and Jenny ( Graham)