Saturday, June 8, 2013


Placement Visits

During our three-month service, we visit two of the seven placements in the West Bank.  The team I am with, team 48, has 32 people from 15 different countries in these placements. 

I visited the Jayyous placement.  The trip to Jayyous involved a bus to Jerusalem, a different bus from a different bus station to Ramallah.  In Ramallah, I had another walk to a different station, this time to a service station.  The services are vans, shared taxi’s, that are much cheaper than regular taxis.  With all this walking and changes, I was very thankful that one of the EA’s from the Jayyous team was on her way back so I had a traveling companion from Jerusalem

Lunch in Azzun

The service took us as far as Azzun where the only Christian family left in the village hosted us for a meal.  Efaf Shatara had a home cooked lunch waiting for us.  They have family in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Jayyous Apartment

Each placement apartment is very different.  In Bethlehem, our property owner lives in the upper apartment and keeps our yard very beautiful.  I did not find a beautiful yard in Jayyous.   On the positive side, hardly any traffic noise.  However, there were very noisy, smelly neighbors; the side yard was a goat pen.

When I arrived, a candle on the coffee table curved from being too hot, the second day when we got home it had actually fallen from its base because of the heat. 

The heat in the house was almost unbearable. The question was does one really want to open the window to the smell?  

Agricultural Gates

One of the duties of EAPPI Jayyous team members is to monitor agricultural gates.  Farmers are limited and sometimes denied access to their land.  Israel has divided the Palestinians from their farmlands.  There are now fences and gates that open for limited times.  Farmers must have permits to go to their farms.  They have to pass through metal detectors and biological checks to go out and work their own lands.

While farmers would like to go out and work their land first thing in the morning, the gates do not open first thing in the morning.  The gate schedules, set by the Israeli army, forces the farmers to work in the heat of the day.

Some gates close too soon, not allowing farmers to leave needed farming left undone. 

Denying freedom of movement on one’s own land is a violation of rights that these farmers face every day.

Our morning walk, about 45 minutes, was pleasant, seeing some wild flowers along the way.  Too bad there are wire and fences in the view.

The team reports the numbers of men, women and children that go through.  

Also counted are the tractors, carts,cars carts trailers.  The donkeys, horses and sheep are also counted.  These numbers are compiled and reported.  These numbers would be used to verify the need in the event of a pending closure.

Village Visits

Like my Bethlehem team, the Jayyous team also is responsible to stand in solidarity with the villages.  During my time in Jayyous, I visited villages with the team.  Similar problems exist in all villages.  Land is taken from the villages by the settlements.  The settlement at the top of the hill, so close to this village.

Note the Settlement at the Top Ridge of the Hill

The as the settlements expand, more restrictions on access are placed on the Palestinian population.  In one of the villages we visited, the Israeli government has decided to claim 300 meters on the village side of a road.  The people in this area have all received demolition orders for their homes.  This is a new action, in addition to previous losses of land by the village.  Private land is taken without permission or recourse.


Similar problems exist most villages including the village of Salfeet.  

Sadness fills my heart as I hear and see the injustice.

A little hint of positive action was a welcomed change as I heard of a program called American Corner; it is in the Salfeet library.  

American Corners are partnerships between U.S. embassies or consulates and local communities. 

They serve as a resource for residents of those local communities, offering access to information about American culture, society, and values, as well as information on educational opportunities in the United States.

Fathi Younis,, is the coordinator of the American Corners Salfeet.  He is very interested in expanding.  He is interested in having a US city as a “Twin” city.   


Of course being out all day gives the opportunity for another wonderful Palestinian Lunch.  Our Palestinian taxi driver knows the best places.

He also took us to his property, explained what he had lost.

This area does have access to water for agriculture.

What a difference water makes!

Amazing vegetables being grown in green houses.

Last Night/ Early Departure

I did spend the last night sleeping on the other side of the apartment; two windows opened for some cross breezes. 

Up early on my final day to catch a service to Ramallah, 

Looking down the street three ways, not much going on. 

At 5:45  I was the eighth person in the van traveling to Ramallah; all were up at this very early hour to go to their jobs many miles away. 

The occupation with its illegal settlements has caused great economic hardships on Palestinian families.

Pray for a JUST peace in the Middle East!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Refugee Camp -Alrowwad Center

Relief Agency

The general plight of Palestinian refugees is unbelievable bad.   Starting in 1948, hundreds of thousands have fled to other nations and to places within the country their own country.  Because of the dire circumstances the United Nations has set up an agency, United Nations Relief and Works Agency.  Although doing a lot of work, it too has suffered budget problems that have been passed on to the refugees.  Please check out for the specific details.

Al Rowwad

Our team from Bethlehem is serving in the near by refugee camps. 

 During a recent visit to one of the three centers, Alrowwad,  we found an amazing organization directed by Dr Abdelfattah Abusrour.  His parents were some of the first residents in the camp, he grew up here, his vision of the future has created Alrowwad, a center that focused on what he calls, “beautiful resistance.”
In the initial stages it was a place where children could act out their responses to the trauma stored in their hearts and minds.  Telling their story in theater.  It became a first place for a women’s gym where women could get out and “play together.”  Many positive changes have happened.

There is a center for children to visit and learn.  In addition, a mobile game van travels to outside visits villages and provides play opportunities in nearby villages.

Training opportunities are giving on computers, Photography and video creation.  Also sewing skills.

A sound booth was being built the day we visited.

A wonder theater space in the basement where productions are put on for the community.   Also,  groups of performers trained here have traveled internationally telling their story

We felt the inspiration toward “Beautiful Resistance” to the evil in the world.

We hear the news that comes from this Refugee Camp.  There are many nightly incursions in this camp.  The army comes in and pulls Palestinians out of their beds and spread terror throughout the camp.  Last week live bullets were used and one teenager is now hospitalized.  During one visit, the night previous there had been tear gas shot into the camp for no apparent reason.  

When we heard the talk from the group “Breaking the Silence,   We were told that these are policies and tactics of the army.  At times the army uses these in refugee camps against Palestinians just as training exercises.

Out of all this darkness, seeing the positive good flowing from Dr Adbelfattah Abusrour’s dream can be light in the darkness for each of us.  From their web site,  you can connect with the Friends of Alrowwad-USA. 

Palestinian Loss of Land

Those of you who have seen my display board are familiar with the content of this poster.  It shows the loss of Palestinian land since 1948.

Praying for a JUST peace in the Middle East is urgent!