Monday, December 10, 2007

A Day in Daburreya

I'm behind in talking about what I did in the North of Israel!! I went to Daburreya, which is my friend's village at the base of Mt. Tabor. Usually I stay in the village for at least a couple days. This time, however, I stayed at my hotel in Tiberias for almost a week and didn't stay in the village. It is easier when Steve is with me to stay in the hotel, which is more accessible. Plus, it is lovely to be right on the Sea of Galilee! I enjoyed some nice walks along the sea. It was a nice break!

I did go to the village on Saturday and spent time with Azmi's family. I visited with his mother and father (and had two cups of Arabic coffee). Then I hung out with his wife, kids and neices and nephews and drank more coffee. I took a few photos of his kids, but I'll be doing more in Jerusalem. It is one of my 'jobs' here to photograph the children and then make collages (in Microsoft Publisher). They become the new refridgerator art in Azmi and Suha's apartments (one in Daburreya, one in Jerusalem) and Steve's apartment.

Here is a precious photo of Azmi's oldest child, Amir. Isn't he adorable??

Azmi's son Amir

It was a short visit this time. I sat alone with Azmi's mother (who speaks no english) and we drank coffee together, smiled a lot and she spoke a lot of Arabic to me. I know it frustrates her that I've been coming here for 9 years and I still really can't speak with her! I visited with Azmi's father, who is bedridden at this point. He has a picture of me on his wall, that was taken of me with the former queen of Jordan, Nur. I attended a Seeds of Peace fundraising event in NYC a few years back and had a photo op with this lovely and gracious lady! (Picture below). It is a bit embarrassing to me. Steve printed out the photo 8 x 10 and gave it to Azmi to take to his parents. They framed it and put it on his father's bedroom wall! For a long time it was the only photo there! I noticed on this visit that there are a couple photos of grand kids on either side of me now. It is still rather embarrassing, however, because they LOVE that photo and pull it out whenever they have visitors (at least when I'm there). They think I know Queen Nur, which I don't! I've tried to explain that... but to no avail. It seems to make them happy though, so I guess its ok. :) I look a little odd in this photo. The Queen, however, looks stunning!

Nola with Queen Nur @ Seeds of Peace Fundraising Event.

If you haven't heard of the Seeds of Peace, it is an organization well worth looking into and supporting.

Here is an excerpt from their website:

Founded in 1993, Seeds of Peace is dedicated to empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and coexistence.

Over the last decade, Seeds of Peace has intensified its impact, dramatically increasing the number of participants, represented nations and programs.

From 46 Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian teenagers in 1993, the organization still focuses on the Middle East but has expanded its programming to include young leaders from South Asia, Cyprus and the Balkans. Its leadership network now encompasses over 3,500 young people from several conflict regions.

The Seeds of Peace internationally recognized program model begins at the International Camp in Maine and continues through follow-up programming with international youth conferences, regional workshops, educational and professional opportunities, and an adult educator program. This comprehensive system allows participants to develop empathy, respect, and confidence as well as leadership, communication and negotiation skills — all critical components that will facilitate peaceful coexistence for the next generation.

I am a big believer in this organization and their work.

Back to Daburreya. I was invited to Suha's sister's home. Suha is Azmi's wife. Suha's sister, her husband and their children lived in the US for a few years while the father in the family did post-Doctoral studies. They wanted me to come for a vist and to converse with their children in English. I had a great time talking to their daughter Miar and their son Anas. They both speak english very well. I enjoyed hearing about their time in America, and the experieces they are having since they returned home.

Here is a photo of me with the kids:

Me with Anas, Miar and Azmi's son Amir

Finally, I got to spend time with several of Azmi's nieces and nephews. One special boy, Iham, got all dressed up just for my visit. This is a photo of him with Azmi's son, Amir. Check out the spiffy jacket... in my honor. :)

"The cousins" - Iham and Amir

The day was wonderful and full of love. I wish I could have spent time with more of the family, but that was not to be for this trip. Next time for sure!

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