|Hello, Shalom, Salam.
We are happy to introduce Raida Aiashe-Khatib from Neve Shalom, a town that literally means “oasis of peace”. Neve Shalom, also known as Wāħat al-Salām, is a cooperative village jointly founded by Israeli Jews and Palestinian-Israeli Arabs in an attempt to show that the two peoples can live side by side peacefully, as well as to conduct educational work for peace, equality and understanding between the two peoples. The village is located midway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Neve Shalom, Wāħat al-Salām
* What I love about working with the volunteers:
The fact that young people come to volunteer, gives me motivation to work with them and feel that I, too, volunteer. I feel like I’m their family in Israel. It gives me satisfaction to feel like their mother. I am here for them. For each request, or problem, they turn to me and I try, as much as possible, to help them. There are a variety of people from many countries in which the English language actually unifies them. It makes me feel good to find an “adopting family” for the volunteers and connect them to the Jewish and Arab youth in our village, and that’s how they are absorbed into our village life. The first thing I do when they arrive, is to show them where I live and give them my contact. This gives them a very good feeling and a sense of belonging.
* An interesting fact about me:
I’ve always been interested in the volunteers, even when someone else was the coordinator, as I always appreciated the fact that they decided to come and volunteer. My home was always open to volunteers, as well as having meals together, and conducting many long conversations about our life in the village, that is shared by Arabs and Jews, together. While I was doing that, others in our village observed that, as well as other organizations. Since we have many German volunteers, the chairman of the Germany-Israel Friends Organization recommended me as the volunteers’ coordinator. They approached me, and I happily agreed.
Raida in the oasis
* interesting anecdotes about our volunteers:
The volunteers feel at home in our village, they learn a lot about the various Arab and Jewish holidays, cooking’ and even medicinal herbs.
The residents of our village hold a strict convention built upon a dialogue, respect, and mutual trust. No side wants to live on account of the other. We believe that together we shall overcome all the hardships, and we do that by having meetings, talks, and conversations. Even if I do not agree with my neighbor’s opinion, we will still maintain a respectful discussion.
We aim at not fighting, yet enlightening the differences, and moving on, to live peacefully. The volunteers join our village meetings, and we translate our talks. At first, the volunteers feel as if they have the solution to our controversies, but one can’t really understand our way of life until one actually lives it with us. Eventually, the volunteers are left with a sense of understanding, respect, and appreciation for our way of life.
Usually the volunteers will work in the village guest house, construction, swimming pool, the Spiritual Interfaith Center, The School for Peace, the Friends Associations, and fund raising.
Neve Shalom, Jewish-Arab village
Most of the volunteers, come back to visit us long after they returned to their countries. They even come back with their own families. Due to their unique and complex encounter with our interesting way of living, many of the volunteers chose to continue on with Law studies, or International Relationships.
A house in Neve Shalom
The primary school, which is an integrative bilingual educational system from nursery to 6th grade, needs double the staff for each subject learned: Arabic, and Hebrew. That’s why it’s double the costs.
If you care to donate or just check Neve Shalom’s unique school: http://wasns.org/support-our-school.