Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9
This month of March is a time when women are often celebrated and honoured. The month started off with International Women’s Day on March 8th and then later in the month many countries across the world celebrated Mother’s Day. In England, the violent murder of Sarah Everard in London has highlighted issues of women’s security and safety in public places as well as inequalities faced by Black women whose disappearance or experience of violence is often overlooked.
In Palestine women are held in high esteem but they do face particular trial and trauma. So-called honour killings have hit the headlines recently and like many countries living with political violence, domestic abuse is not uncommon. Women’s lives are affected by the occupation every day. Women are imprisoned, widowed and experience violence. Women lose children and loved ones. Mothers witness their children being imprisoned, their grandchild harassed by a soldier, their nephew injured or killed.
At Holy Land Trust we acknowledge the vital roles women play in public life as well as in the domestic sphere. We long for a time when there is equality between the sexes, women’s voices are valued and respected and everyone feels safe, secure and free at home and on the streets. We are dedicating this month’s newsletters to women in Palestine who hold our society together, who birth new ways of building peace and sing of freedom, justice and equality.
Stories – Bringing a feminist lens to the history of Palestine.
Holy Land Trust is working with the University of Bethlehem to empower young women by telling the stories and gathering images of female leaders throughout the history of Palestine.
The trust is currently fundraising for a scholarship which will enable eight university students from the Bethlehem area to play their part in disseminating the story of women through words and images as well as recognizing the power of their own story
Students will be trained in storytelling, dialogue techniques, interviewing skills and photography before working together to gather stories, pictures and histories for an exhibition of feminist history. The exhibition, which will be displayed in local art galleries, will be accompanied by a booklet. Each student will contribute a story for the booklet by interviewing a woman of their choice and making sure their oral history is captured and publicised to broaden the understanding of the political and social life of Palestinians.
We would like to focus our fundraising on one woman this month – Um Osama. Um Osama and her family have faced years of hardship after their house was demolished by the Israeli army four times. On the last occasion, in 2014, her husband was injured and has been unable to work for the last seven years. Um Osama, her husband Ali and eight children have been living in a small building originally designed to house chickens. She says she and her children dream of living in a modest home like other people. We’ve been fundraising to help rebuild the family home and to give Um Osama her dream of dignity and security. Please help us to bring hope to the Ali Salim Moussa family and to stand in solidarity with women like Um Osama. Once her house is rebuilt Um Osama is keen to welcome all supporters to her home. She says to all who are standing with her; “I send them love, gratitude and respect, may God bless their families. They’re welcome here, everyday!”
Elias Deis - Executive Director
Holy Land Trust’s E.D., Elias Deis has worked for over a decade at Holy Land Trust. He was formally the Travel & Encounter Program Director and serves on the Beit Sahour City Council.
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