This Beduoin home is spacious, but as you can see quite austere. The walls are a single sheet of plywood; the floor is dirt covered by carpets; the roof is or corrugated plastic, all held together by a single tent post and cross beams. As you can see there is a heater, which was wonderful as it was cold, sleeting, and very windy outside. The woman lecturing is Angela Godfrey, an Israeli who believes that they will lose Israel if the occupation does not end.
We sat on mats reserved for guests. There is not one other piece of furniture. The only sign of any convenience at all is the wire coming from the kerosene generator and providing power for the computer, internet connection, and television. This Beduoin village is in the middle of an ugly controversy where they may be forced to move to the site of a garbage dump. I can't imagine it to be a lot worse as the Israeli settlement above has diverted its water, and sends waste water flowing through this village. The owner of this tent home possesses a master's degree in community planning. Education is difficult for Beduoin children as they must walk many miles to get to school.
If you asked me what my feelings are right now I can only answer in snippets:
- the humility of being served sweet tea by a teen-aged boy because his 16 year old sister who made the tea is too shy to greet all these men (about half of us);
- the sadness of the story of a Christian woman in Bethlehem whose once successful shop at Rachel's Tomb has been surrounded on 3-sides by the "separation barrier" or Wall. The business is barely hanging on and Claire now sells goods made by Palestinian women, whose 9 chidren suffered during the second Intifada and the building of the wall;
- freezing at the Bethlehem 300 Check Point at 4AM with 280 men already waiting. Today 2400+ men, women, and children went through to their jobs and school in Jerusalem;
- the difficutly of working in a team of people who do not know one another, who probably would not have chosen each other for this task, but who respect one another and are committed to the work ahead;
- the generosity of these people who continue to be resilient through all of the property grabbing, wall-building, land confiscation, personal degradation and humiliation;
- hope that eminated from a young soldier who stopped a man who had been returned to the Palestinian side of the checkpoint, asking him what happened, making a call to a superior to learn why he had been denied access;
- laughter and joy in the hearts of these people and even the soldiers as they join in the singing and dancing;
- the sweetness of the tea that is served everywhere you go, including a home demolition where the family scurries around to heat water, to find seating, and to graciously invite you into their lives.
- Martin, Mary, Esteban, Kat, Hannah
(Martin from Switzerland, Esteban from Ecuador, Kat from Sweden, Hannah from the UK)