Bearing Witness

Volunteering

After having some time and space to reflect on my voluntary work for Project Hope in Nablus, I still feel it is one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life, however there are some things I would do differently if I where to come back or undertake volunteer work else where in the world – which I definitively plan to do.

Firstly I would spend more time learning the language before leaving, I feel this would have given me a better understanding of the people and culture. While also helping me immensely with my teaching, don’t get me wrong the translators provided to me by Project Hope where amazing and indispensable, however the saying “lost in translation” did come to mind several times during my stay in Nablus.

I also would have better prepared myself for the emotion roller coaster that is voluntary work. I experienced everything from excitement and joy to frustration and despair – all in the one day and some times in the same hour.

Plus also preparing myself to become emotional attached to the place and the people I worked with. I always felt an affinity with the Palestinian cause, but after my time in the West Bank that grew immensely. This was best illustrated by my reaction to the atrocities carried out in Gaza, just I after I had left Nablus. I would have reacted negatively even before my time in the West Bank, however after getting to know the people and the extent of their suffering, so often down played in the western media, the images I saw from Gaza on the nightly news nearly had me in tears.

That brings me to preparing for the realities of situation you are going to work in. This is hard to do as books and documentaries can only tell you some much, but the more knowledge you gain before you leave, will provide a  better base to build your understanding of the situation you find yourself in.

Finally if anyone reading this is considering undertaking voluntary work, my advice is DO IT ! Throw yourself into whole heartily – as it’s like anything else in life the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

To support Project Hope and he wonderful work they do – bringing hope to young Palestinians – go to www.projecthope.ps and click on support us and make a donation, please.

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January 31, 2009 - Posted by | My Thoughts | , ,

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