It’s hard not to wonder about how Palestinian children will view the world they grow up into. Will they have hope for the future? Here are some glimpses of children’s lives, where every aspect is affected by the occupation…
** This week I spent time at the South Hebron Hills placement – it is indeed a beautiful country-side. In a nearby community there are school students who must walk through an Israeli settlement to get to their school in the next community. The settler violence against these students was so bad that an Israeli military vehicle now escorts the children through the settlement, before & after their school day. It’s not too often that we see Israeli forces helping the Palestinian people deal with the difficulties of occupation!
On this occasion, EAs were helping to make sure all ran smoothly, and escorting the children part of the way.
That afternoon the military vehicle was a little late, which gave an opportunity for EA Paivi to spend time with the children in the shade of the trees as they waited for their escort.
** During the week we also visited Al Bustan Centre in Palestinian East Jerusalem. Bustan is a neighbourhood where most houses are under demolition orders, because the nearby ‘City of David’ is being developed as an Israeli tourist / archaeological attraction. We heard of a Palestinian boy who’d being doing well at school, but then his marks began to plummet & he wasn’t bringing his books to school. When his teacher asked what was in his school bag he opened it & there were his toys. Asked why, he said, ‘I might come back from school & my house would be demolished. I want to still have my toys.’
Given the traumas affecting children of Bustan, local volunteers at the Al Bustan Centre provide a safe place for them to be – playing musical instruments, enjoying craft activities, & going on an annual camp [funded by overseas supporters]. And importantly, the children have access there to the help of social workers & counsellors.
Near the entrance to the Centre was this example of the children’s art work. It reminded me of the many times I’ve seen children at church activities produce something similar with their hand prints. But what a world of difference between the lives & hopes for the future, depending on where you happen to be born!
I am participating as an Ecumenical Accompanier serving in the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine & Israel [EAPPI.] The views contained here are personal, & do not necessarily reflect those of the National Council of Churches in Australia, nor the W.C.C. If you would like to publish the information contained here [including posting on a website] or distribute it further, please first contact the EAPPI. Communications Officer [firstname.lastname@example.org] for permission. Thank you.