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Fairly soon I’ll be sending these blogs from inside the West Bank which will make this space I’m in now the “outside world”.  I can’t really say, from this somewhat comfortable position (keeping in mind I’m at MPT HQ for 4 days and although it’s not the Four Seasons, I have the basic amenities.  Except a shower, more on that later), how and what that experience will be like.  I can say, from a combination of intense training, a video presentation and having been to the West Bank and Jerusalem as well as a refugee camp in Jordan, it will be a life changing, eye opening experience that I truly hope will affect some sort of positive change, no matter how small.

 Why the West Bank you ask?  I understand there are lots of places here in the States that could use a healthy dose of activism but my heart is, and always has been, in the Middle East as my mother was born and raised in Jerusalem, Palestine.  My siblings and I grew up with a mother deeply affected, in every way, by the loss of her country, her family, her life and identity as she knew it. I have been to the region, studied it and was married into a family very ensconced in the culture.  This will all pale in comparison to living among the occupied people as well as seeing  and experiencing first hand through their eyes and lives, their loss, their pain, their hopes and fears.  

The training is far more in depth than I expected.  The reality of where I am going and, not only what I will be doing, but all that might, could, will happen on this journey is settling in and it is, quite honestly, a tad unsettling.  However, that is one of the hallmarks of taking on any new endeavor and one that puts us outside our comfort zone. Change is always difficult, but ultimately good.  For those that know me, this decision has come as no surprise (except for the fact that I have to seriously adjust my wardrobe for three months) as I have always wanted to participate in a volunteer mission.  When I left Jerusalem 17 years ago during the first Intifada, I promised myself I would come back when my own children were launched to do what I could to help the children of the occupation envision a future that would allow them to live in peace and justice and no longer under conflict, oppression and fear. I believe very strongly that children, everywhere, deserve this.

 I joke with friends that the real reason I’m going on this volunteer mission is because, well, it’s a lot easier than dating and I need a relaxing break from that.  All kidding aside (well, some, you have to have a sense of humor), I’m going because my heart and soul are telling me this is the time to do something and in a big way.  I've never been away from my children, family, friends and life for three weeks, let alone three months yet I feel deeply it is the right thing for me to do, right now in my life.  I’m following that instinct with my usual positive, glass is half full, every problem has a solution, attitude as well as great hope that individually and as a team, a difference can be made to bring some positive change to the lives of the Palestinian people that have been living under occupation for over 60 years. 

  Everything happens for a reason.  I believe those reasons, eventually, turn out to be positive.  Stay tuned and I’ll let you know what this one might be.

Happy Trails.....Denise

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