Do you love learning about people of other cultures and seeing into their challenging lives? Be a part of an eye opening learning experience as you journey with me into the lives of teens from the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, Palestine. I've been extended an invitation to volunteer this Summer at the Lajee Cultural Arts Center at Aida where I will work on a photography project with teens helping them to poignantly capture their lives in images to be shared with the world. Supporters of this project will receive news and project updates from Bethlehem as well as access to the final product--an online book of photos from the teens with stories about the significance of their images.
As a teacher at a community center I fostered children building friendships to gain an understanding of the "other" across a great divide. By way of a pen pal project I connected children in Berkeley, CA with children in Bethlehem and the Gaza Strip. Last Summer, I was able to visit Israel/Palestine to meet many of the pen pals! While there I was invited to visit the Aida Refugee Camp. I am humbled to have recently been extended this invitation.
It is my goal to return to Palestine this Summer to once again bring what I can offer as a creative educator to Palestinian youth and connect them with those who care to know the challenges they face in their lives. Looking forward to growing, sharing and learning with all of you!
In early 2018, in response to the deep heartache and responsibility I felt as an educator and human being, after reading a UN report concerning the rate at which Palestinian children are arrested, detained and tortured, I decided to give my 4th & 5th grade students at a Jewish Community Center in Berkeley, California the opportunity to embody the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam "Repair of the World." The students unanimously decided they wanted to be pen pals with Palestinian children who were receiving medical care via the Palestine Children's Relief Fund, the PCRF.
For a brief time the children exchanged hand written letters and drawings that were honest, kind, innocent, caring and loving. Their connection on paper was inspiring and eye opening. Through their words one could easily see the similarity of their hearts, interests and future goals based on notions of safety, security, success, growth and love.
Last Summer with the help and support of the PCRF, and a few parents of my students I was able to travel to Palestine to meet the pen pals. While there Inwas introduced to the director of the Lajee Centerand invited to visit the Aida Refugee Camp. It is my desire to return again this Summer to continue working with Palestinian children.
Singing and dancing with children (pen pals) receiving cognitive support for PTSD in Rafah, Palestine (August 2018)
Meeting children in the Jabalia Refugee Camp, Jabalia City, Palestine (August 2018)
Your generous donations will help cover the cost of airfare, ground transportation, food and humble accommodations near the Aida Refugee Camp in addition to some teaching materials.
***I will be posting updates of the trip and progress of the project via blog and email updates for all donors to experience and enjoy***
No donation is too small and everything and anything is greatly appreciated! When you open your heart to a child and give them the ability to express themselves and their existence in a healthy, creative way you are helping to change the world and bring positive growth and understanding!
TO HEAR MY INTERVIEW ON THE KPFA RADIO SHOW "VOICES OF THE MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA" (19 OCTOBER 2018) REGARDING MY FIRST VOLUNTEER TRIP TO PALESTINE CLICK THE FOLLOWING LINK [MY SEGMENT BEGINS AT 36:20 MINUTE MARK]: https://soundcloud.com/user-773173717/heather-palestine-voices-of-the-middle-east-and-north-africa-october-19-2018-kpf
TO HEAR MY INTERVIEW ON THE KPFA RADIO SHOW "FLASHPOINTS" WITH DENNIS BERNSTEIN (20 SEPTEMBER 2018) REGARDING MY FIRST VOLUNTEER TRIP TO PALESTINE CLICK THE FOLLOWING LINK [MY SEGMENT BEGINS AT THE BEGINNING]: https://soundcloud.com/user-773173717/heather-gaza-flashpoints-with-dennis-bernstein-september-20-2018-thursday-5pm-live-show-kpfa
One love and great thanks,
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