Thursday, January 1, 2009

new year - salam

The training in bethlehem ended up only being an introduction but everyonw seemed to learn quickly and i am going to try to return on th 6th before i leave to finish it. i was a little sad to leave aida camp and everyone i had become friends with, but excited for my work with the center in ramallah.

my friend ahlam accompanied me on my journey and hen i arrived i was invited to attend a workshop on how to treat children who have experienced trauma. the speaker went over maslow's hierarchy of needs and because of the events in gaza we focused on what those children in particular would be experiencing. i had heard of it before but never studied it. within the specific context in gaza i understood it viscerally. i will get into it more.

After she was done speaking they made an announcement for my workshop the next day in the context of another form of treatment for those who have experienced trauma. they tried to limit it to 20 people but so many were excited about it that they ended up allowing 26 to sign up. it was nice to watch the interest in what i came to do.

That night I had dinner ith my friend Ahlam who wanted me to cook, her neighbor was coming over that night. although i've only been here a week and most the conversations are in arabic i find myself understanding alot through context or maybe body language and intonation? we talked a lot about foreign foundations and their work in the west bank. and how many of them do very little to help the people here and have contracts that end up just serving their own interests often times. it makes me have mixed feelings about my work here because i don't want to be the same, or at least viewed as such.

the center put me up in the hotel where the conference took place, it was nice to take a warm shower, there are many things i don't think i'll ever take for granted again.

the next day as i prepared for the workshop i started feeling a little nervous. but since being here i have found myself very present and taking everything as it comes. because we had originally arrange for it to take 2 days i have found myself having to present a lot of information in a very short period of time. what ended up happening was similar to aida camp, it was more of an introduction to the work to foster interest in the future. i was helped by 3 people who had done the training in june: fardous, dr. nidal, and anham. i was very thankful for there support. and 2 of them have expressed interest in the possibility of working together with our organization to try to set up a center just for acupuncture. insha'allah. at the end i think many people were enthused at the prospect of learning more later. and the response from the staff seemed hopeful. also a local news crew came by to report on the workshop. so now i have a 30 second byte on local ramallah tv. it was weird though because i was talking to the reporter ho didn't ask any questions. i don't even know what i said. but those from the center were interviewed as well. i am so thankful ith the hospitality in which i have received from everyone here.

that night i had dinner with fardous and her family. it was wonderful we talked of many things and her mother assured me that i now have a place any time i visit and she made me promise that would be soon. and her sister, mira, said next time i come it should be for longer and she will give me private arabic lessons, w'allah! i wish i could express gratitude for how eceryone i've met has ewlcomed me into their homes and family with open arms. we often talk of the situation here and what is happening in gaza and how the international community is informed and what that creates in their perceptions of not only palestine but the arab world. and often times they express that they are so happy to meet me and know that soem of us are trying to learn the truth. her mother, fatima, said my visit has been very good and balancing for her because she needs to know that not all americans think poorly of palestinians and support what is being done here. i thanked her for sharing her experiences and home with me. i hope to return soon for longer, maybe even a couple of months, we'll see.

this morning i met with an amazing man, friend of a friend, abed. it took him an hour and a half to travel 28 km from his village north of ramallah due to the checkpoints, today there were 2 one palestinian and one israeli. he works with unions here and does workshops with palestinian workers in jerusalem to help educate them on their workers rights which are often not respected here (unfortunately not much of a surprise). he also started a fair trade for palestinian products organization (link on the right). we walked around ramallah a while and he helped me make it to the bus station for my trip to jerusalem. I am sad i didn't have more time to spend with this lovely man. maybe soon. he invited me to his village and said one day we will take a tour of the surrounding villages and all the farms he works with. and he assured me that if there is anything that i need i can call him and he will come. and again that i have a second home here. such a big heart and kind eyes. i look forward to getting to know him better in the future.

my heart is heavy as i sit here in jerusalem wondering when i will see my friends again and wishing them safety as the events here seem unpredictable. i have seen many other things which i will relate later. i just wanted to keep this one light and let everyone know of my wonderful experience with all the people i've met here. what love and sincere caring. i hope this finds you all well and you take the time to inform yourself with news from this perspective as well as what you see in the other medias, we owe it to everyone here to listen to their voices. i have included a link to an english site for aljazeera, please look into it.

wishing everyone a new year with hope for change

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