A short walk this morning to bring us to St George’s Anglican Cathedral where Brian was invited to recite the Collect for the day and also the Gospel reading. He concelebrated (yes, I know that’s not a URC word!) with Hassem, the Dean of the cathedral along with his old friend Suheil Dawani, the Bishop of Jerusalem who met with us after the service to offer insight into the way Christians are often seen as the ‘voice of moderation’ in the region.
Luay picked us up in the bus and tool us to Ramallah where we picked up Dr Abdellatif Mohammed, the Deputy General Director of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees – a URC Commitment For Life partner who was to be our guide for the afternoon.
Passing Beirzit university on the way Abdellatif took us to 2 projects – a land reclamation project in a village called Kufl Hares where nearly 3.5 hectares of land has been made arable primarily through the use of stone walls to increase soil humidity and reduce erosion and, later, to Almdwar where PARC has helped a farmers’ cooperative to provide water for their field 24 hours a day – whilst also reducing the amount of water used, thus saving money.
The cooperative provided us with a magnificent lunch of local food before the coach brought us back, via the Kalandia checkpoint (at which 2 security officers with sub-machine guns boarded the bus to check our passports)
Palestinians certainly like their speed bumps. I reckon we went over about 150 on the way back – some at speed – so with a headache and an impacted spine I was glad to get back to our hotel in Jerusalem!
The evening was spent catching up with some of my young friends with whom I have worked for the last 7 years as part of the Kids4Hope and, latterly, Youth4Hope programmes. They have such honesty and openness – it has been an honour for me to be a small part of their lives.