First of all, SHOKRAN and THANK YOU, to all who attended and supported Joining Hands for Justice Israel-Palestine's first annual fundraiser last Friday night at St. James United Methodist Church in Atlanta. It was a great success and a huge blessing.
Among our guest speakers was Mariam Fathalla, respectfully known as Umm Akram, with the Free Palestine Movement. She is a courageous and resilient 86 year old Palestinian refugee who has been living in Lebanon's largest refugee camp, Ain al-Hilweh, for decades. The camp swells with over 70,000 Palestinians and an added 50,000 Syrians in its cramped space of less than one square mile...no one can leave without a permit.
I have yet to digest much of what she shared. Her stories--beyond my imagining--make them hard to believe. The worst part is, they are true. A connecting point came to me a night or so after the event and enabled the reality of her harrowing tales to sink in a little deeper.
"What these eyes have seen..." This pondering halted me right in the middle of my steady work flow. I had zoomed onto Umm Akram's eyes while editing a photograph of her when these words arrived, subtly but striking, and with them came a pause that caused me to stop and truly see her for the first time. These eyes, these eyes, they have seen so much in 86 years of life. So many stories, so many deaths, so much grief, such pain, agony, and ache. And yet, and yet, they bear an enduring sparkle of hope. So much so that she comes, here, to tour the United States for two months to tell her chilling and heartbreaking story and revisit the painful memories of being forced out of her beloved village in Palestine with her family 68 years ago.
She does this in hopes that by reaching us, touching our hearts, we will unite in the ways that we can to bring a just peace to the land known as Palestine and also Israel, so that all who call that region home might be able to return and live out their lives as every human being deserves: with freedom, dignity, and dreams.
They all need our prayers and hope--in thought and in action--for peace, return, and fullness of life. I invite you to please join me in this.
To learn more and for ways to get involved check out some of the links below or feel free to contact me.
Israeli Palestinian Conflict In Brief: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y58njT2oXfE
Hear Umm Akram when the Nakba Tour comes to your town: http://freepalestinemovement.org/2016/01/31/the-north-america-nakba-tour/