Holy Land Director, Elias D’eis has just returned from a speaking tour in Germany where he spoke at schools and churches, joined an Olive Tree festival, and connected with Palestinians who are living around Cologne.
The visit coincided with the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Cologne - Bethlehem city partnership, and Elias was invited to join the Olive Tree Festival organized by Cologne City, where he spoke about the annual olive picking program – encouraging people to join the harvest in 2022.
Elias said: “During the first week of our visit to Germany we stayed in Cologne, the area of North-Rhine Westphalia in the west of Germany, which is one of the most populated areas in Germany. A lot of Palestinian Christians from Bethlehem are now living in that area and are active in Church communities in this region. In addition, a number of cities maintain twinning relationships with Bethlehem or its neighboring city Beit Sahour. So our week in Cologne was packed with lecturing about our work and challenges we face in church communities and with meetings to establish and intensify relationships with Holy Land Trust.”
In the second week, Elias traveled to Upper Bavaria, close to the border with Austria. In the little city of Laufen, he was invited to lecture about Holy Land Trusts' work, projects, vision, and mission in an evening event with the local city hall and in two high schools. Plans for establishing possible school partnerships between Laufen and schools in Bethlehem were made.
The highlight of the visit for Elias was giving a presentation in two high schools in the North Bavaria area. He had a very interesting conversation with the students about the Middle East, conflict, identities and culture. The students were so interested that now the Holy Land Trust plans to develop a unique program for young Germans to come and learn, serve and build knowledge so they can return home to advocate for peace and justice.
The opportunity to visit Germany came out of the partnership Holy Land Trust has had for the last six years with AGIAMONDO, an organization that has placed Thomas Trischler on the Bethlehem-based staff team to enable the Trust to build support in Germany. Elias and Thomas also toured and spoke together in 2019, recruiting donors and building advocacy.
Elias concluded: “During our recent tour we could inform the interested audience about the current situation in the Holy Land and strengthen the connection between German organizations and Holy Land Trust. We are very happy about the new relationships we made, the potential future human aid projects we discussed, the intensified twin city relations, and the first step to school partnerships. We are looking forward to the next Speaking Tour in spring 2022 to further inform the German public about our work for sustainable and just peace in the Holy Land and further intensify German-Palestinian relations.
Elias Deis - Executive Director
Holy Land Trust’s E.D., Elias Deis has worked for over a decade at Holy Land Trust. He was formally the Travel & Encounter Program Director and serves on the Beit Sahour City Council.
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