Palestine, a country on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, to the south of Lebanon, and to the west of Jordan is uniquely a holy land in three of the world’s major religions–Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. One of the basic components and values that Palestine lacks and aspires to achieve is peace since it is a country under occupation. Various Palestinian institutions seek to reach both inner community peace and external peace. They do so by spreading awareness and applying practices and procedures needed to deepen the values of peace among different groups.
Children are one of the main actors we should work with. They are the leaders of tomorrow and the builders of the future who will form the basic layer for building a peaceful society in Palestine. To do so requires more focus and care teaching children and training them to apply this concept of peace in practical and amicable ways through campaigns and initiatives asking for rights and seeking change.
In many countries the olive tree symbolizes peace, and certainly so in Palestine. Palestine is famous for its olive trees which are hundreds of years old and whose olives are delicious. The olive tree is also a symbol of the Palestinian people’s connection to the land and the solidity of its roots.
Community Harmony and Living Together
The Arab Educational Institute (AEI) – a member organization of Pax Christi International, located in Bethlehem – is a Palestinian non-profit organization working in the field of community education and awareness through educational projects and programs. AEI targets various segments of Palestinian society, including youth, women, and children. Peace is one of the main concepts of AEI’s mission. It teaches this concept in two dimensions: inner peace with oneself and external peace with the environment, society, and the world.
Children are the main target group of the AEI within its children’s group and among students of the schools’ network in Bethlehem, Ramallah and Hebron cities. Teaching and training on peace are carried out through awareness-raising, educational lectures, training workshops, and non-violent activities such as advocacy campaigns, education through art, music, drama, and writing stories. The AEI focuses in its work with children and school students on the concepts and values of citizenship, civil peace and living together through its longstanding program ‘Citizenship and Diversity: Christian/Muslim Living Together in Palestine’.
“Peace is a word with a beautiful and good meaning. It gives us calm and serenity. It is the presence of harmony and love between people and it means staying away from wars and conflicts.” – Child, AEI
Peace is one of the basic concepts and values that must be learned and practiced in life because the lack thereof results in conflicts. To achieve peace, its seeds should be planted from a young age in children so that the fruits can be reaped when they grow.
Claudette S. Mubarak, GNRC Country Communications Associate, Palestine