Teamwork makes the dream work: Palestinian builders team up with Amos volunteers from the UK on our fifth home rebuild in the West Bank.
The home is rebuilt, the family is in, the volunteers are safely home and our fifth rebuilding project in Palestine is complete. There is a beautiful 160 m² home in a small village that has been rebuilt on the rubble of a home demolished in 2018.
There is a new vineyard of 180 vines in fields next to a new ‘outpost’ settlement. There is a 500m² greenhouse relocated next to an Israeli military watchtower which is feared to be the precursor to a new settlement.
These small acts of solidarity, these new “facts on the ground”, are a way to support Palestinians in their struggle to stay on their land and to highlight the injustices of the occupation. This is the big picture for our home rebuilding programme.
None of this would be possible without the incredible team of 43 volunteers who joined us and spent their time, strength, energy, emotions and money to get their hands dirty, leave their comfort zone and make the kind of human connections that can’t be put into words but will stay with you forever.
Before: After the outer walls go up, it’s time to start work on the structure that will eventually become the roof. A group of volunteers from the UK rebuilding a demolished Palestinian Home.
None of this would be possible without the incredible partnership we have with Holy Land Trust, who organise all the logistics and build the relationships with the local communities and families.
More than anything else, none of this would be possible without the Palestinian families who welcome us with overwhelming hospitality and give us their trust, despite the ongoing trauma they are suffering. We are constantly thanked during the trip, but the truth is we take far more than we give. This is the transaction that is hard to put into words.
These small acts of solidarity, these new “facts on the ground”, are a way to support Palestinians in their struggle to stay on their land and to highlight the injustices of the occupation.
The Palestinian poet Rafeef Ziadah has a piece called “We Teach Life, Sir” and it’s simply true. Working alongside and becoming friends with people who personify the concept of grace under pressure is life-changing and seeps into every aspect of your existence, far beyond politics, human rights, the Palestine-Israel conflict or any other cause you might support.
Peeling away the layers that separate, whether they be wealth, background, culture, religion, gender, politics, a concrete wall or a thousand other barriers, and making real human-to-human connections is, for me, at the heart of everything Amos stands for. Everything flows from that. Amos is committed to challenging injustice, building hope, deepening involvement and creating positive change. By these measures our home rebuilding project is a huge success.
It only takes a moment, however, to zoom out to the big picture and see that what we do in the context of the overall issue is tiny, even insignificant. So why do we persist? Why do we keep introducing people to Palestine knowing that the situation gets a little worse each time we visit and a just solution is seemingly nowhere in sight? Why do we rebuild one home when hundreds have been demolished during the occupation and thousands more have demolition orders?
Amos is committed to challenging injustice, building hope, deepening involvement and creating positive change. By these measures our home rebuilding project is a huge success.
During the trip I shared a prayer from Nicaragua with the group which, like all the best art and poetry, gets to the heart of this dilemma.
It helps, now and then,
to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete.
No statement says all that could be said.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
Knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realising that.
This enables us to do something,
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the
Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
I was also challenged recently by some words from Leonard Cohen to think that sometimes a little despair allows us the humility to truly provoke miracles.
Let judges secretly despair of justice:
their verdicts will be more acute.
Let generals secretly despair of triumph:
killing will be defamed.
Let priests secretly despair of faith:
their compassion will be true.
Lulu, the Mother of the house we were rebuilding was reluctant to share the story of the night her family’s home was demolished as she said they didn’t want to be seen as victims. As we left she said, “When I saw the new house I thought that’s my home, just like a dream. Beautiful.”
After: The finished house a few short weeks later — “When I saw the new house I thought that’s my home, just like a dream. Beautiful.”
Amos Trust’s next Home Rebuild trip will be in 2021. You can watch our short film about home rebuilding in Palestine here.
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