Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Our First Week

Hello! We are Molly and Jana and we've just arrived in Palestine. We have been here for a week now, settling into our new surroundings. So far we have explored Jerusalem and visited the Dead Sea and the En Gedi Nature Reserve, which was an incredible experience.

Damascus Gate - Jerusalem

Our first task in the office is to familiarise ourselves with the work of our partner NGO, which aims to empower Palestinian women through direct legal advice and counseling but also through workshops and capacity building in grassroots organisations. Women in Palestine face the daily challenges of living under occupation coupled with the restrictions of their patriarchal society: problems such unemployment and abuse are all too common.

Our work here will include proof-reading for publications, reports and funding applications; researching the continuous political developments which occur over our 10 weeks here; planning and implementing English lessons; and supporting grassroots projects where attitudes may be more conservative and women more isolated.

Despite the great hardships facing Palestinians, after only one week many of us have found that our observations of Palestinian culture have differed from our expectations. On our third night here we were exploring the neighbourhood and stumbled across a party in full swing, with a stage and a DJ and about 50 men singing and dancing. We just planned to stand at the edge and watch for a minute, but soon we were dragged into the party and given food and drink, with excitable children running over to hand us presents and nervously practice their English. We were told by the matriarch of the family that it was the night before a wedding, and she insisted that we should come to the ceremony the next day! This overwhelming hospitality for complete strangers has been a common theme throughout our stay so far.

We will be updating this blog every week with details of our work and our travels, so please check back to see how we are getting on. 

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