Over two fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable months volunteering for MEND, I learnt a great deal about
the situation in Palestine. Taken under wing by Taka, who has been working for MEND as  Resource
Development Officer for just under two years, I was immediately set the task of thinking up project
proposals and fundraising ideas to put into action. As a volunteer I spent time both in the office in Beit
Hanina and traveling to West Bank cities such as Hebron and Tul Karem

A large proportion of my time at MEND was taken up planning and conducting both ballet Dance Therapy
workshops for youth groups in East Jerusalem and Hebron as well as teaching a group of young Palestinian
girls (aged between 6 and 12) ballet twice weekly at the Spafford Centre in the Old City of Jerusalem. The
workshops were aimed at introducing Palestinian youths to western dance as well as spending the
afternoons participating in an activity which allowed them to release tension associated with the
situation in which they are living. I was helped greatly by Nidal Allen of the Spafford centre with
translating between English and Arabic.For the workshops themselves the groups numbered around
twenty-five girls and boys, with ages ranging from 12 to 19. They were all 'good sports' and participated
well – even Mohammad Jamal, MEND coordinator in Hebron, joined in skipping and jumping and showed
some clear talent when it came to 'plies'! The workshops were followed up with discussions from which the
general consensus was that they found ballet "beautiful" and "expressive" but hard to pick up in such a
short space of time, especially considering the fact the movements is so different from the local Dabkeh
dance. It was however clear that the workshops were enjoyed by all! Let's hope these workshops and
ballet classes are just the first of many joint projects between MEND and the Spafford Centre.

In the office time was spent writing articles for the MEND monthly newsletter, updating the website's news
section and photo gallery, making suggestions for further improvements and trying to prepare and
organize visits to the cooperatives of different countries in Jerusalem to raise awareness of MEND's work. I
have also put some thought into designing MEND mugs and pens to distribute to all those with whom
MEND currently work and has worked with in the past. The aim is that these could act as a constant
reminder of the MEND's work and provide quick access to contact details and the website address, in
order to improve communications with MEND.

Outside the office and when not teaching ballet it's been great to have had the opportunity to travel to
the West Bank cities of Hebron and Tul Karem. We were all really very happy to see the opening of a new
MEND office in Hebron to replace the previous one.

We twice drove up to Tul Karem during our time here. The purpose of the first trip was for a meeting about
a current project: 'Town Hall Style Discussions'. After the meeting a group of 'MENDers' (people under 21
who are part of the MEND Active Nonviolenve Network) kindly gave up their time to take us on a
thorough tour of the city including both a branch of Al Quds Open University and the Palestine Technical
University as well as an olive farm owned by one of their fathers. Just over a week later we returned to Tul
Karem for the first of the Town Hall Style Discussions which had a great turn out and met with great
success.