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Cultivating Hope

Here on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time
Close to the gardens of broken shadows,
We do what prisoners do,
And what the jobless do:
We cultivate hope.

-----Mahmud Darwish

Dear MPT friends,

This is Gaby, still hoping to be a part of the MPT’s peace team in Palestine this fall with Fred as my teammate. Thanks so much to those who have already contributed to our team’s cause. It’s a great and empowering feeling to be privileged with the support from people we may not even know personally but who are like-minded and are willing to be a part of our work in Palestine by making it financially possible.

We are hoping to be able to leave in the beginning of October and thus our time to fundraise is limited. To make this trip happen, we still need to raise more funds. Since I am the one who is in the greater financial need and who entirely counts on fundraised money to make this trip happen, I thought I could tell you more about myself and my motivation to be on a peace team so that you can feel more like you actually know me.

After I came back from being trained to be on MPT’s peace team I’ve had quite some time to reflect on what it means to be a non-violent presence in a conflict-torn country. I had to formulate my opinions and strengthen my convictions in order to stand up to family and friends concerned about my safety, in order to try to make them understand. While I still haven’t managed to accomplish the latter, in the process of trying to do so, it became more and more clear to me the importance of taking an active stand.

I’ve been doing quite a lot of volunteer work but it ultimately felt like I had to be elsewhere, do something else, something greater. Working with refugees felt like I could go a step further, to where the root cause of their situation laid. With my studies of Arabic and Middle-Eastern culture and history it all naturally lead me to Palestine and a quick search on the Internet brought me to the Michigan Peace Team. I am also lucky enough to be in the US right now so that I had the chance to fly to Michigan and get trained. It feels like all the past events and my background have been secretly preparing me for this trip and I do feel like that this will be a very significant journey in my life.

While studying in the university, my colleagues and I all dreaded the Palestinian-Israeli conflict being drawn-out in a History exam. It was the most complicated question. When engaging in a conversation with someone about it, what people most often say is that this is a very ancient problem, impossible to solve. I believe that somewhere in the “writing it off” as “a complicated issue” we’re dismissing the human side of it along with the actual people involved in it, born in it and living through it every day of their lives. I believe that the only way to be truly reminded of that is to be there with them, with those for whom the “cultivation of hope” (as Mahmud Darwish has put it) has turned out to be such a difficult and yet not impossible task. It’s an offer hard to turn down and the personal growth that would come along with this work is undisputable.

Fred has already described the donation methods for our team’s fall trip in his fund-raising letter. You may also donate by clicking on the Network For Good button on the top right corner of this page and designate Fall Team 2011. Michigan Peace Team is a grass-roots organization with a very modest budget. My team will need to cover all of our costs, including plane ticket, training, and food/lodging on the ground. While at this point I can cover the cost of my air fare thanks to kind donations, I still need to fundraise the money necessary for food/lodging on the ground. The cost of living per person per day in the West Bank is 30$. If you are willing to support us financially to make this trip happen, you can kindly sponsor one day for a team member in the West Bank. Of course, any donations, large or small, are welcomed. I want to personally express my gratitude for those who choose to do so, as well for everyone who supports us spiritually.

I really hope our next blog post will be from the Holy Lands…

Most grateful,


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