Our Palestinian Coordinator, Karen writes:
Every Journey of Understanding brings surprises and changes, but none so amazing as the relationships formed between Israeli participant Natalie and the Palestinian girls, especially Hadeel in the March 2013 program.
On the program they got along splendidly and they hung out together during the post-program week in London too, but that's not all. The Palestinian girls invited Natalie to become part of the Women of Action group they belong to in the region.
Upon their return they all kept in touch and made arrangements to meet in Jerusalem. Hadeel and Natalie have met at every opportunity...when Hadeel applied for a U.S. Visa, when she went to a Braveheart Woman meeting in Beit Jala and they even volunteered at a youth project together in Jerusalem with 4 other Encompass Journey of Understanding alumni, who also made friends with Natalie during their lunch break. Furthermore, they all keep in touch via the internet.
Natalie says, “I'm very grateful for the opportunity to take part in the program and even more so for the great people I have met. I truly feel that we created a friendship that has developed far beyond the program and our time together in the UK.”
This kind of relationship is what changes the status quo of a conflict. Yes, it's just one small step forward, but the longest and most rewarding journeys always begin with just one step in the right direction, don't they?
Hadeel and Natalie on the programme in Wales (above) and together in Jerusalem (below)