Reflections of the International Volunteers: June 2011

Rays of Justice Camp

28th May-12th June 2011

Ellisiv, Norway

To be able to witness their dignity, hospitality, warmth and happiness, is simply astonishing”

Before my departure, I felt that I knew a lot about the Palestinian-Israeli situation, but I understand now that I needed to see it with my own two eyes in order to be able to understand more of the condition. I still feel ignorant and wish my knowledge was better, but I believe that I can grasp more of it now.

My experience has overall been a good one. In some situations I reacted with disgust, others with tears, but mainly I think that I reacted with disbelief. To walk around in a refugee camp and watch wee girls shout “Hello, what is your name”? And knowing that they are bound to live in that camp for the rest of their lives is hard to take in.


But to be able to witness their dignity, hospitality, warmth and happiness, is simply astonishing. I have never met a more open and kind people, a people that still has its dignity and kindness intact in spite of daily humiliations at the numerous checkpoints.

 

Natalie, Scotland

“The people I encountered there showed me that hope, resilience forgiveness and love can transcend any boundaries”

When the Zajel email landed in my inbox sometime in March I felt it was not a random mistake. I decided to seize the opportunity to really find out what all the ‘fuss’ was about. I set about trying to educate myself about the history of 1948 and the 1967 and understand the complexities of the current situation. However, nothing could really have prepared me for what I experienced in my two weeks in Palestine.

Teaching at An-Najah University was a fantastic experience, with students eager to learn from me and the other international volunteers. My students symbolised the complexities of the Palestinian struggle against occupation; some were optimistic about the future and could envisage a day where they would live in peace and freedom, others expressed a more fatalistic attitude. Bit by bit I was beginning to realize what life is really like under occupation, and in truth it can be unbearable.

I believe that in some small way I and the other international volunteers were working towards empowerment of the students at An-Najah which at the very least may inspire them to develop a true sense of their own agency in life. I also firmly believe that education is the most powerful weapon in the struggle for justice and freedom. I hope that I can carry with me the memories of Nablus, Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem and the people I encountered there who showed me that hope, resilience forgiveness and love can transcend any boundaries.

 

Zisimos, Greece

“All that remains is for the injustice to end”

The two things that surprised me most were the friendliness of the Palestinians and also how good the quality of life is here in Nablus. From what I’d seen of Palestine in the news back home, I was expecting a war zone and third-world conditions.

Instead, here in Nablus life seems to go on as in any other Arab/Mediterranean city.  Perhaps we’ve been well sheltered from the worst of the situation, and I still can’t believe how this occupation is allowed to continue, but it filled me with hope to see people here living fairly normal lives for now.  All that remains is for the injustice to end and give Palestinians the same rights and freedoms that we take for granted.

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