Just when I’m beginning to think that the days cannot possibly get any more packed, the next day comes. Not just comes, though; it marches in and tramples the following day.
We wake up this morning and raise the shades to a beautiful grove of olives, oranges, lemons, and tangerine trees. Incredible - this house, this family. Nagwa serves us tea with mint, eggs, pita, and the most delicious fig and apricot jam you’ll ever taste.
Our day begins with storytelling at ATG. Kelly Smucker was locked in a bathroom while her mother sang, “The Wheels on the Bus” to comfort her as they knocked down the door. It’s amazing to hear the stories already pouring out of the families. Incredible hardships. My own host family has deep pain. Nagwa and her husband were married in ’68. She and her husband left Kuwait in ’67 so that he could manage his women’s clothing factory. He left due to the Gulf War. They had 3 girls, and Awad was about 5 years old. So they re-entered Palestine. They lost everything in Kuwait, Awad says.
Sagee is Awad’s close friend from childhood. He has a great fervor for life, talking, and singing along with Lebanese pop singer Elissa. He was born in Syria, and he now lives in Palestine illegally. His papers/visa expired, and he has no ID. So basically, he is quarantined in Bethlehem. He wants out so much. I can’t even fathom living in a restricted area. I am privileged to move about nearly everywhere – the States, South America, EMU, and oh, yes, the Middle East. How is it that I have all the freedom in the world and do not use it or even ask for it… and a young Palestinian yearns and longs for it, asks for it, but cannot even touch it for himself?
Seeing that massive wall – 5 people high – humbles me. I want to injure the wall in some way to make it crumble. We were not meant to live behind fences or walls, of that I am sure. Even as a child, I could not understand my neighbors with fences. Fences meant less room for us to play. It made the neighbors seem haughty, snobby, and unfriendly - like they wanted us to go away. All fences seemed good for was to keep a dog in or to use the fencepost as our soccer goal.