Thursday, April 9, 2015

Picking up from the last cohort

Our first week has breezed by, but now having fully settled into the environment and to WCLAC we are feeling fully enthusiastic about the following 9 weeks. The residents are all very welcoming, the town centre is lively and vendors are overly animated in trying to draw you to their stalls and shops.

Sunset over Ramallah

It feels like the city itself is surrounded by a bubble of optimism, nothing like what the mainstream "western" media would have you believe. The workers, students and families are all going about their daily lives to provide for themselves and to build a future.

After the first two days of training and meeting the ICVs, we headed to the office. Honestly being inspired to get on board the project is not that difficult as just looking out from the office window and being hit with the lovely landscape can motivate you to feel constructive.

We have spent the last week becoming comfortable with WCLAC as an organisation, learning about its history and the work it has accomplished. WCLAC provides legal and social counselling to Palestinian women who are victims of human rights abuses.

Along with the PFU team we got the opportunity to visit the renowned village of Bil’in last Thursday, which is to the west of Ramallah.

Tear gas cannisters scarring the land
The land itself is filled with magnificent olive trees stretching out as far as can be seen. On a calm Thursday afternoon it looks peaceful and inviting and if it wasn’t for the cluster of empty tear gas canisters hidden in between the grass you wouldn’t suspect the struggle the locals were up against. We were shown around the village and the gates of the Modi’in Illit settlements where construction is continuing to expand. Since 2005, protestors have gathered in Bil’in every Friday to demonstrate against the barriers route.

Yesterday the team had its first brainstorm meeting to lay down the central ideas and hopes we had to accomplish within the next few weeks. One of the main plans we are most keen about is the weekly sessions to focus on women’s rights, feminism across the globe, health and freedom of speech. We are hoping that this will lead to a group of followers that will continue to meet and grow after we are gone. Also, we are working with the ICVs on translation and ad hoc documentation work to fill in gaps in the WCLAC workload.

Along with the ICVs we are working on individual cultural development by teaching one another Arabic and English, and learning about the general community. 

The village of Bil'in

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