|Day 1 breakfast. Yum!|
Almost four years later, here I am again. Not to harvest olives – which I would happily do again! – but with three fellow board members of Pal Craftaid – Carol, Sarah, and Ervin (who will arrive Friday) – and Carol’s daughter, Kirsten, who handles Pal Craftaid’s distribution. We are here to meet with our artisan partners and the organizations Pal Craftaid supports. I have decided to revive this blog in order to share experiences from the upcoming week.
|green almond (tastes about as green as it looks)|
|A view of Wi'am Center playground|
Much of the remainder of the day was spent at the Wi'am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center. In addition to providing conflict mediation within the community, Wi'am runs all kinds of programming for women, children, unemployed young adults, and more, all with the goal of helping Palestinians cope with and even thrive (as much as possible) in the context of the Occupation. From summer camps with drama and art for kids, to teaching women new skills or about inheritance laws, Wi'am strives to generate and sustain hope. It was sobering to see Wi'am's playground in the shadow of the Wall.
Our final stop for the day was Aida Refugee Camp, located right behind the Wi'am Center. Aida was started in 1950 when just over 1,000 Palestinians from around Jerusalem and Hebron were forced to flee their homes. They lived in tents at Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, waiting to be able to return to their homes. That never happened, and eventually the tents were replaced with cement block structures. As families grew, there was no room to expand out, so they had to build up. There are currently around 5,000 refugees living at Aida Camp, just one of 19 camps throughout the West Bank. The UN's conservative estimate for the total number of Palestinian refugees in these camps and displaced throughout the world is 4.7 million people.
|Our group (minus Ervin) outside Aida Refugee Camp|