Lucy Nusseibeh, Director of Mend

By the summer of 2006, MEND now has eight active non-violence groups, including one in Gaza and all of them with
committed groups of youth, Menders, trained in media as well as non-violence. MEND has become a fully national
organization and has also begun on the way to becoming regional and has already started to distribute advocacy materials via
this regional Arab network. The summary for the year of MEND from July 2005 to 2006 shows in particular the development
and consolidation of the Menders. Starting in July 2005 with a trip to Berlin where a group of ten Palestinian Menders met with
nine Germans working in peer mediation at the Kaupfstrasse School – (they also visited the Berlin Wall and compared it with
the Separation Wall) and completing this July with a summer camp in Beit Jala (Talitah Kumi) for nearly 70 young Menders
from all over the West Bank – the title of their project seems borne out – “Leading the way together”. In addition to their many
activities, plays, radio broadcasts etc, their work has been consolidated in a peer to peer training manual, and in the films
each group has produced via the method of participatory video. The youth have also participated in a groundbreaking project
exploring the possibilities for a curriculum towards a culture of tolerance and coexistence. The centres have set an example
via the commitment of the adults despite the changed political climate and the lack of continuing funding – as they continue
to organise trainings and in the case of Gaza, open debates around the topic of non-violence. Mend’s slogan of “Smarter
Without Violence” is becoming increasingly widely known through the T-shirts and the bumper stickers and the poster of 198
methods of non-violence (Gene Sharp), also through the help of the local authorities.

MEND UK launched at Parliament on July 4th with the former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson,
voicing her support to MEND and praised Lucy for her work in Palestine. Mrs Robinson said “Those who
share MEND's values of non-violence, personal responsibility and civic pride are pioneers in the search
for a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.” Mrs Robinson also talked about the problems of terrorism
and the dangers of the media making “terrorism” synonymous with the Palestinians.

Figures from the world of politics and the media came to listen, including Rt. Hon Stephen Timms MP,
Marsha Singh MP, the Honourable Haifa Al-Kaylani Chair of the Arab Women’s league and The Revd
Anthony Ball.

Lucy Nusseibeh, director and founder of MEND, spoke movingly about the damaging effects that the
conflict is having on the children in Palestine through the absence of hope and aspirations. Despite the
conflict though, Lucy described the warmth she had experienced from Palestinians.  She told one story
of her car breaking down in the Palestinian territories in the midst of a torrential downpour. Villagers
appeared from nowhere and began to help. One person asked where she was from and another
replied, “It’s obvious she is from the settlement over there.” They had helped her anyway.

Mrs Nusseibeh also highlighted the accomplishments we have made in Palestine through the continued
establishment of non-violence centres and projects like participatory video training, a teen radio soap
opera, as well as human rights and conflict resolution education. All of these projects aim to
reinvigorate young people and enable them to see available alternatives. Lucy concluded: “Mend has
been so successful that members of Fatah have approached us to learn about non-violence, and the
politicians now talk about non-violence as a viable future.”

Ziyaad Lunat, a Portuguese LSE masters student who recently returned from Palestine, spoke about his
involvement in MEND’s community projects and how valuable the experience was both to him and to
the young children he bonded with.

We would like to give special thanks to our hosts Evan Harris MP, Mark Field MP and Kerry McCarthy MP,
and everyone else that came to listen to what Mend has accomplished and hopes to achieve.
Glimpse of Hope
How Mend changes communities
Ahmed was a 13 year old boy living in Tul
karem.  Like many other Palestinian children
Ahmed belongs to a large and deeply
religious family. He felt unheard at home and
isolated at school. His dad worked all day to
feed the family and his mum focused on the
younger children. Life for Ahmad was mainly
attending school and the mosque and he
saw little meaning in anything outside of this.

On the first day of a Mend Participatory
Video training workshop, Ahmed was
withdrawn and uncomfortable. He found it
hard to integrate with the rest of the group
and did not understand why he was there,
and what value learning new skills might
have. He did not want to be there.

As the training sessions went on, Ahmed
went from being skeptical to enjoying the
course. He started interacting with
everyone else in the group and embraced
the new skills he was learning. The joy and
sense of confidence he discovered through
MEND's help has made Ahmed feel like a
productive member of his community.
Among many other activities, he now
volunteers for MEND. MEND has helped
many children and teens like Ahmed.  
Volunteering for MEND in Palestine
Julie Norman
As a summer intern with MEND, I have had the
opportunity to visit many of MEND’s projects, assisting
with video trainings with youth in Izariyeh,
participating in human rights discussions with teens in
Hebron, observing drama workshops with children in
Nablus, and more.  MEND engages youth in
conversations about nonviolence, human rights, and
conflict resolution in innovative ways that emphasize
empowerment and expression, especially through the
use of participatory media.  

With this creative spirit in mind, I spent the majority of
my time this summer reaching out to community
centers in the Jerusalem and Bethlehem areas,
coordinating photography workshops with different
youth groups.  The youth receive basic training with
point-and-shoot film cameras, and then take pictures
in their communities on topics that they choose, such
as human rights or daily life.  We then use the youths’
photos to discuss these topics on the personal and
societal levels.  We are planning exhibits of the
photos in the centers at the completion of the
project, as well as the development of a website.  The
idea is to use arts as a form of expression and
empowerment on the one hand, and secondly to use
the photographs as a means of advocacy and
nonviolent activism.

So far the project is off to a good start, with the youth
having completed their initial trainings and beginning
to take pictures on their own at home.  Some of the
youth have never used a camera before, while others
with more experience have said that this is the first
time they have used photography to document their
own lives and communities.  Indeed, we are all
learning from the project, me perhaps most of all, as
the youths’ photos allow them to share their stories
with others in a unique way.  While working hard and
learning a lot, we are all having fun with the project,
and I look forward to continuing working and learning
with them in the upcoming weeks.  
Dear Friends...


In this issue:

  • New Trustees and Volunteers at MEND UK
  • International Day of Peace
  • MEND Marathon Runner Mark Calder
  • Palestinian Refugees in the UK


Previous issues: