|Tulkarm Team 47 - Spring 2013|
Those of you who have been reading this blog post know that I spent the spring of 2013 in Palestine – specifically in the northern Palestinian city of Tulkarm – with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). As an Ecumenical Accompanier (we refer to ourselves as “EAs”), my “job” was to monitor checkpoints, share in the in the day to day lives of Palestinian people, and support Israelis in nonviolent action for peace.
The reports that my EA team filed with the Jerusalem EAPPI office ultimately found their way into United Nations reports, and studies on human rights, access to education and other issues relevant to the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine.
|A woman shares her story|
But the time I spent living in the West Bank was only half of the job. The other half is advocacy. Since returning home, I have maintained this blog post, made presentations to church and community groups, written letters to (mostly) unresponsive politicians and joined with organizations and individuals working at the grass-roots level to end the Occupation.
Recently, the US EAPPI coordinator asked former US EAs to participate in fundraising efforts in an attempt to recruit more Americans to participate in this very worthwhile program. While EAPPI is an international program, the United States is woefully under-represented, . Out of 1,400 volunteers who have served as EAs since 2002, only 27 have been Americans. The reasons for this are largely financial.
|Advocacy in Ohio - with Randie Clawson (Team48)|
EAPPI was started by the World Council of Churches, which oversees the international organization. Each of the 21 participating country is administered (and funded) by a church-related organization in that country. Thus, in Great Britain, the Quakers administer the program; in Sweden it is the Church of Sweden; in Canada the United Church of Canada. In the United States, Church World Services serves as program administrator but, unlike its counterpoints in the other participating countries, CWS has no funding for EAPPI.
Thus, while my counterparts from Sweden and Great Britain not only had the program expenses (currently about $11,000) covered by their sponsoring church organizations, but received stipends while serving abroad, we Americans had to either fundraise or self-fund our time in Palestine. The commitment of time and the ability to put one’s life on hold for three months is difficult enough. Added to this, the ability to raise this kind of money severely limits the number of people who can serve as EAs.
And yet, American eyes are desperately needed in the Occupied Territories – and American voices are desperately needed at home. It is, after all, American money that funds the Occupation (to a tune of $3.2 billion a year!) and American politicians whose votes perpetuate the human rights abuses.
|Even donkeys must pass through checkpoints!|
I’m not very good at asking for money – but I’m screwing up my courage to add my voice to the cacophony of end-of-the-year requests for donations. If you are inclined to support this wonderful program, donations of any amount can be made by going to to http://www.eappi-us.org/index.php?page=support. Thank you!