One of Holy Land Trust’s intentions for the years to come is to build and strengthen female leadership in the Holy Land. We believe women leadership is an essential component to building a lasting and sustainable peace. The first step in this process was hosted by Holy Land Trust in November 2015! We held an intensive leadership development training and organized a fact finding and networking mission for women. The non-linear leadership methodology challenges and develops leaders to make decisions based on a vision for the future rather than their past experiences. The overall aim was to create a platform for these leaders to learn more deeply about the realities of the conflict and for them to embark on a journey of personal transformation, emerging as a team to develop new possibilities, and implement new projects in the region which will focus on perpetuating transformation and building women leadership.
Several Americans came to the Holy Land in November and participated in the training and fact-finding and networking mission. The first three and half days of the program were entirely dedicated to the non-linear leadership development training. These initial trainings were with a trainer/coach, Paula Alter from the UK, and were focused on the past and present sections of the non-linear methodology. The future portion of the methodology was taught to them towards the end of the program by the Director of Holy Land Trust, Sami Awad.
Other than the trainings, much of their time was spent meeting with various women leaders around the land.
One of the places the women visited was the Tent of Nations. They met with Jihan Nasser, where they were able to discuss possibilities of assisting Jihan in her work helping women in Nahalin. Nahalin is a small Palestinian Muslim village between the Tent of Nations and several Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
The next day they went to a traditional Palestinian cooking class offered by Noor Women’s Empowerment Group where they met Islam, a Muslim woman living in Aida refugee camp. Islam began cooking classes to raise money for disabled children in the camp. During the cooking class, the women were able to share ideas and potential projects for the future.
After the cooking class, the women met with Fadwa Abbad, who is the Director of Sunaa’ Al Amal for therapeutic training & counseling in Bethlehem. She has been invovled in social work and gender issues for many years. The women in the group were able to hear Fadwa’s story about growing up as a refugee in Bethlehem and the work she has done over her life.
The day after that the group of women met with Tamara Seagal, a second generation Holocaust survivor who is a teacher at an alternative Jewish school which encourages its students to have friendship with Palestinians in the future. They then met with Vered Levuinger who is an Israeli Jewish social worker and helps children through the arts in her community. At both meetings, the women were able to discuss gender issues and ideas about how they can work together to achieve peace and justice in the Holy Land.
The following day they traveled to a settlement in the West Bank and met with Hadassah Fruman, the wife of an orthodox Jewish Rabbi who was famous for making peace with his neighboring Palestinian villages and promoting peace activism. Since her husband’s death, Hadassah has continued his efforts at peace and recently organized a joint day of fasting for Palestinians and Israelis to pray together during the recent events.
The final day of the fact-finding mission the women met with peace activist, Siham Abu Awwad where they were able to hear Siham’s story and discuss her work in peace activism. Siham is a member of The Parents Circle Families Forum which is an organization of bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families who meet to work towards peace and reconciliation.
They then traveled to Baqa to meet with Sana Jawabreh who is an Arab-Israeli that has engaged a lot in the issue of violence against women and is a peace activist. Her mother is the first women to create a Mosque where women were able to pray together and speak with a female Imam. The women enjoyed dinner with Sana in Baqa and were able to listen to her experiences and her stories about growing up as a Palestinian in Israel.
At the end of the training and fact-finding mission, the women have committed to working together to implement future projects in the Holy Land to bring more foreign women to Israel/Palestine and to continue women’s leadership development in the Israeli and Palestinian communities.