Bearing Witness

Olive harvest & Palestinian hospitality

Today I participated in the annual olive harvest with other international volunteers from Project Hope . It was a small grove in town and the trees where relatively young, only 20 years old. The grove was planted during the first intifada as Palestinians where in lock down for most of it and could not access their farm lands, let alone get food transported in. So all manner of fruit and vegetables where planted in town to sustain the population. The harvest only took five hours and every couple of hours we where brought tea, coffee and tasty treats. After the harvest we where taken on a tour of the city including the outlying villages, then feed an amazing meal, the food just keep coming. After dinner we where invited back on Sunday for a traditional Palestinian dinner, the family was incredibly grateful, as where we by the end of the day.

I also heard stories about Project Hope bringing food and medicen to the Nablus population at the peak of the first intifada. As mentioned above, Nablus was in lock down and Project Hope staff and volunteers risked their own lives to deliver live saving medicine and essential foods to the locals. Often playing a cat a mouse game with the Israeli military to get to sections of the town where the  heaviest fighting was occurring. I also discovered that Nablus is the second oldest constantly inhabited city in the world, no wonder it has an historic feel to it, and that before the Zionist movement started Samaritans – a branch of Judaism – Christians and Muslim all coexisted happily in the city. With the Grandmother of the family we pick olives for, a Muslim lady, telling me they even celebrated each others religious holidays.

Tomorrow I am assisting with my first “Bridge to the World” {BTTW] class, where young Palestinians are taught how to set up and maintain their own blog’s. The aim of the program is to help the participants feel less isolated from the rest of the world, while helping to raise awareness of the occupation and it’s impacts on Palestinian life. I also have a meeting with a local youth center about setting up my own English class. The arts coordinator is currently on leave so the music program my take a little longer than expected to set up, but atleast I will be kept busy in the mean time with BTTW and English. I am unable to put into words how amazing this experience has been so far and I sure it will only get better as I start to deliver my own classes.

 

Olive harvest

Olive harvest

Palestinian hospitality

Palestinian hospitality

Sunset over Nablus

Sunset over Nablus

 * Photo’s courtesy of Sadie – a British volunteer here to teach digital photography.

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November 9, 2008 - Posted by | My Thoughts, My Travels | , ,

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