First off its quite difficult to volunteer in Palestine if your honest with the control officers in Israel upon your arrival. If you’re honest with them and say that your plan is to volunteer here they will either A: deny you access to the country or give you such a short visa that it would be near impossible to donate any time to the organization that you planned on volunteering for. That being said my suggestion is to not lie but just not state the whole truth, simply say that your intentions are to see the country and where Jesus was born etc.. Even if you don’t believe in religion which is my case.
There are three types of land in Palestine, zone A: a city that the Palestinians have almost complete control over, zone B: the suburbs where the Palestinians have some control over the land and zone C: the farms which is compromised of 60% of the Palestinian land where they have no control over which is where the land I’m volunteering at currently is located. Just last May the Israeli-an Government came here in the early hours of the day and demolished over 1500 fruit trees including Fig, Apple, Apricot and plum, which is against the Jewish law/ religion called Torah where it states that they are not allowed to destroy trees. They did this because they want to occupy the land to build houses or settlements, which is quite a scary thought for all Palestinian farm owners, that at anytime your land and buildings could be gone.
I chose to donate one week (40hrs) of my time on a farm called “Tent of Nations” ran by the Nassar family, land in which they have owned for the last 100 years. The family has been fighting a legal battle to keep hold of the land since it was classified as ‘Israeli State Land’ and thus threatened with confiscation in 1991. The struggle is ongoing.. Its a large parcel of land roughly 100 acres located a short distance of 9km from Bethlehem near a small town called Nahalin just off route 60. Here they harvest all sorts of plants and vegetables: figs, apples, pomegranate, olives and everything they need to self sustain. In my short time here I’ve done and learned many things including: painting, mechanical maintenance, picking up branches from the olive trimming, planting seeds, tilling the land, fixing things and learning about the culture and family. On top of the farming they run empowerment programs for women and children in the local area. By building confidence and capacity in those whose lives are a daily struggle due to the situation facing Palestinians today, we can help create a better future for tomorrow. To read more please click here.
The average day starts at 7am where we get up and make breakfast which generally consists of fresh bread with butter and Fig jam from the land, after which we start working at around 8am. We are told the night before what to work on until one of the Nassar family members arrives generally it was Daher the oldest son. We will continue to work for several hours until we break for lunch around 1-2pm. Most days there are plenty of day trip visitors from all around the world at which point Daoud Nassar will explain what they are doing here, what the plan / goal is and inform them of the land situation here in zone C. Often they will stay and eat or enjoy some sage tea and sometimes they will donate some time or money to Tent of Nations. After lunch we will go back to work until around 4pm since the sun sets around 4:45pm and it gets quite cold very quickly since the land is located on top of a small mountain 950m above sea level.
We stayed in a small cave named the Vine Villa and it has two bedrooms a kitchen with all the fixings to cook and a bathroom. We were fed quite well and generally leave lunch with all the leftovers to eat later that night for dinner. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my stay here and will certainly consider coming back to help out again, it has been an awesome break to my travels and the hustle and bustle of the big cities. If you are considering volunteering on the west bank this would be my suggestion and you can be rest assured that you will be in good hands here on the farm with the Nassar family. Consider coming to volunteer early May for their anniversary of the farm I’m sure there will be a celebration. This past May marked their 100 anniversary.
To see the rest of the photos from this adventure please click here.
To see the rest of the photos from this adventure please click here.
To see the rest of the photos from this adventure please click here.
My experience of volunteering in Palestine
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