“If there’s nowhere in the world for us, let NASA build us a home up there”
These words are slightly tounge-in-cheek but none the less a heartbreaking window into the problems of part of the Jahalin Bedouin Tribe near the Jericho road.
This large family group were denied permission to build a school on their own ground. A school which would save their children a 22km walk to and from school meaning many boys left home but hid in the nearby wilderness until it was time to go home and girls could not go as their parents feared for their safety whilst walking between Israeli settlements and a busy main road.
In 2009, with the help of NGO’s the community built a school made from old tyres, filled with sand then coated with chicken wire and mud. This amazing little school now caters for 150 children with 3 Bedouin teachers and others from the Palestinian Authority teaching everthing from science to english.
These people are resourceful, kind, honest, living sustainably (they use solar power, recycle water, and look after the land around them) and one with their animals and land. It’s an almost symbiotic relationship between people and land.
Yet they are constantly threatened with the demolition of the school and forced relocation to an area near the large Jerusalem rubbish dump, with no access to suitable land for their animals.
Eid adds, “if you take a fish from water it will die, it’s the same if you take a Bedouin off his land”. These are a people who very few in the west are aware of and therefore an easy target for the Israeli beurocratic machine and the expansion of settlements. They are currently fighting relocation in the courts and through slf promotion, however this is against the backdrop of settlers turning off their water supply, dumping herds of wild boar on their land and other threatening behaviour. They choose peaceful resistance, speaking to as many people as can visit and making videos of their struggle.
So what can we do? Tell people about these families, tell them about the school, but almost as importantly – pray for them.