July 25th, 2005
This Monday was really just a regular Peace Trees Bethlehem
day. We planted along the road in Al Khader and in the afternoon we
had a workshop on gender issues. Looking back, it all seemed like a
dream! Imagine young Palestinians working so hard, digging holes, planting
trees and watering them. And it would be great if the television crew
who filmed us would share it with the World (but we all know that the
chances of that are pretty slim). It would be just show that young Palestinians
are capable, and even more important, willing to put their energy in
something very constructive. And most importantly it would help cease
any misconceptions that the media has so effortlessly spread.
So we finished this strip of land in the middle of the
road. The strip of land has been restored to its former glory in terms
of trees; the previous ones destroyed by tanks and bulldozers. Yes,
this war even includes the destruction of plants of no economic value.
And tomorrow we will move further down the road towards Bethlehem. There
are many more kilometres that could do with some green plants and we
can do about two hundred metres a day.
In the afternoon a 'Gender' programme was scheduled in
which elements of Essential Peacemaking were integrated to create a
programme specially aimed at the young Palestinian participants. But
older internationals were allowed in as well.
After a few opening exercises we split up in gender (man
and woman) groups. The assignment was to talk about men and women working
together (what it means, what the effect is on the male or female role).
We spoke for about an hour in two separate groups. After,
we came together again to continue the sharing within the gender groups.
The males and the females took it in turns to speak while the other
listened and vice versa. Remember that I said this was a Gender programme
for the young Palestinians. So we were in a room with people whose ages
ranged from13 to 65. We were in one room with Muslims, Christians and
others. We had people of cultures from all around the world. Some had
been in EP-like settings on many occasions but others had never spoken
about certain issues and certainly not with the opposite sex in the
And then it just happened: everyone spoke his or her
truth. Pain, frustration, longings; it was all shared. There were young
women who were demanding a far more open and worldly position. And the
men agreeing and disagreeing. A lot of listening took place. It was
said and it was listened to.
To me it became very clear that, while so much violence
and aggression is going on, another major shift is taking place here.
It was very clearly expressed by one of the young men. He said: 'Things
are changing. Be aware that we are here in this workshop because our
fathers allowed us to be here'.
I spent my evening talking to Ursel. I needed her advice
on something personal. She was a great help!
And I read my e-mails, which are mostly from you my Dear
Friends. Thank you for your support!
And yes, I wish you were here to share these special
events with me.