FWCC hears ‘tough and painful’ testimonies

‘There will be an ongoing need for trauma counselling.’ Rania Maayeh, head of Ramallah Friends School.

The Friends World Committee for Consultation Europe and Middle East (FWCC EMES) Peace and Service Network heard firsthand accounts from friends in Ukraine, Georgia, and Palestine last month.

‘Much of the news was tough and painful to hear,’ Lee Taylor, from FWCC EMES, told the Friend.

At the Brussels event, from 20-22 October, Joyce Ajlouny, general secretary of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), talked to the gathering via Zoom about what AFSC does and what is happening in Gaza.

‘AFSC’s mission is to “bring together people of all faiths and backgrounds to challenge injustice and build peace around the globe”. It has offices in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza,’ Lee Taylor said. ‘AFSC grieves for the loss of all life, regardless of nationality. On the AFSC website there are action points for what people can do now.’

Joyce Ajlouny, a Palestinian and former head of the Friends Schools in Ramallah, spoke about the tiny amount of food and water getting into Gaza. She reminded participants that the power of love needed to come back into the narrative, and said that the present crisis arises from long standing and complex root causes. She urged Friends to contact leaders and policymakers with pleas to end the war.

Quaker Rania Maayeh, head of school at Ramallah Friends School in the West Bank, said that staff were doing all they could to keep the school as ‘normal’ as possible amid very difficult conditions. Asked how Quakers might help, she said that upholding is crucial, and that there will be an ongoing need for trauma counselling, with an appeal for donations now set up (www.justgiving.com/campaign/rfs-wellbeing-support).

With the theme ‘Our Network – Strengthening Connections, Clarifying Responsibilities’, one participant talked about the network in terms of a ‘safety net’ for those undertaking difficult work, with the knots in the net connecting us, said Lee Taylor. ‘Erik Dries of Netherland YM gifted us several cartoons. The dove bearing the sorrows of a troubled world resonated.’

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