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The Palestinian “camp” in Spain

four years ago I met Peace Initiative (IPP) and I had an unforgettable experience in Palestine, which changed my way of seeing life and the world. Thanks to this project by Cáritas Española and Cáritas Jerusalem I was able to know firsthand the situation of Christians in the Holy Land.

The youth of the parish of the Assumption in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, They opened the doors of their homes and their world to us. Together with them we collaborate with the projects of Cáritas e we have witnessed the lights and shadows of its reality. In those days we formed a bond that is difficult to explain to those who have not experienced it. Our Palestinian friends have become our family and we have become part of theirs.

At the end of that summer we said goodbye between laughter and tears, not knowing very well when we would see each other again, but with the certainty that we would have done everything to make that moment arrive and it has finally arrived! After three years of pandemic, screens and closed borders, we once again saw our friends face to face and embraced our Palestinian family. This time in our homes, in our world.

The objective of this work camp in Spain, in addition to the long-awaited reunion, was to learn more about the diocesan Caritas of the cities from which some of the Spanish campers come, as well as the Spanish social reality and its challenges.

Thus, with the help of Trini, Davi and Raquel, operators of Cáritas, we visited the Diocesan of Alcalá de Henares, Valencia and Menorca where they showed us some projects and initiatives such as the Brea de Tajo senior citizens centre; Proyecto Hombre, in Valencia (a program dedicated to the treatment and prevention of addictions); or Mistral’s used clothing and electrical appliances recycling plants in Mahón.

At the same time, it was an opportunity to continue awareness-raising activities such as talks and meetings that the initiative for peace volunteers carries out regularly; unless this time it was they, the Palestinians, who told their story, what it means to be Christian in the Holy Land, the important role they play in society and the difficulties they face on a daily basis due to the occupation.

And how could it be otherwise, there was an occasional escape to the main street of Alcalá, a snack of horchata and farton in Valencia, as well as a homemade paella from Emi and Ángela and, of course, getaways to those heavenly beaches of Menorca.

These days have been an opportunity to rest and have fun, but also to reconnect and renew our commitment, to continue building together Iniciativa por la Paz each from their own reality.

For all this, we can only say a huge “thank you” to those who with their commitment and dedication have made possible the second part of this adventure which is “the countryside” in Spain. Above all Beatriz, the head and heart, of Iniciativa por la Paz and all the volunteers who worked in coordinating the trips, activities and dynamics that made those August days an unforgettable experience for everyone.

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