Caroline and Brenda … the story continues
Hard work ahead of us today ! Mud brick making at Jiftlik meeting house. The sheer determination of the Palestinians is quite awe inspiring, as we make bricks using an age old traditional method. We managed a dozen or so before collapsing, they managed a house ! But are our hands soft or what ?
Frequently Palestinian homes are demolished so to build homes made from mud is more economical. Israel has enforced stringent rules with regards to buildings, and it would appear that very few are permitted to construct anything. We have just visited an area where a tent, doubling as a school, was considered an illegal building and hence destroyed.
After we washed the mud from under our nails we were served a delicious meal made from bread, lentils, stock, onions and lemon juice. This is daily lunch for the volunteers as it is very filling, very tasty and very inexpensive.
At this point we would like to express just how vital donations are, as not only do they help towards food but also transport, fuel, school equipment … the list is endless.
Forget punctuality, it’s nigh impossible to get anywhere on time. We had to endure the humiliation at one of the Jordan Valley checkpoints. Firstly, the car was stopped at a point before the barrier where all, except the driver, had to get out. The car was then ordered to slowly approach the soldiers for inspection. We’d left our rucksacks in the boot together with the box of grapefruit, school jotters, childrens activity books and packets of pens all of which the soldiers inspected. Meanwhile, the three of us where instructed to approach the turnstile, one at a time. When it was my turn the soldier grunted at me in hebrew , pointed to a table and indicated for me to put my camera on it, then again, by pointing, instructed me to walk through the scan. He was joined then by another soldier who said to me, “have a nice day” and they both laughed. It was then obvious they spoke English which allowed me to ask some questions. They both answered without any shame that they were here because they are protecting Israel. I asked about the lack of water, electricity, house demolitions, settler attacks, physical and verbal abuse at checkpoints. One of them told me I didn’t understand the situation and the Palestinians have water and their houses are demolished because they are illegal. He wouldn’t discuss anything more just kept saying, “we give them water and I have seen them drinking it”. Then more laughing came from them. I shook my head, walked away and said “shame on you”.
We arrived at the tent school, Brenda and Lina stayed with some of the children whilst Nour and I walked the three kilometers to collect another 3 children. The wee souls were so pleased to see us and without any hesitation gladly took our hands for the walk to the tent. 3 kms is not far except the terrain is dotted with stones, loose dirt in parts, by no means flat and they have the threat of attacks by settlers. I could not help but imagine our 4yr olds, in the UK, being put in danger on a daily basis. There would be a public outrage. Surely these children deserve a ‘public outrage’ too!
Once at the tent the volunteer teachers provided a stimulating and educational three hours. We had the children singing nursery songs in english and the enthusiasm was fantastic. All too soon, it was time for the children to head home facing the same dangers and for us to head back to the same checkpoint.
On arrival at the checkpoint we were faced with a large queue of vehicles all patiently waiting. Unlike the morning, this time we were all allowed to remain in the car. We sat and sat and sat for 45mins in the blistering heat waiting our turn. The soldier having checked all our passports, motioned for us to continue. When asked what was causing the delay he replied quite indignantly ‘we were having lunch’. How can this be construed as a way to peace.