Arriving in Jerusalem, with my traditional lack of organisational skills, Taka was a breath of fresh air. My
first day at MEND, came after ten days in Palestine, roaming the Old City and East Jerusalem, getting to
all the tourist sites before finding a flat and going “local”.

As a new volunteer, and coming out for eight weeks, my first task was to go through the web-site and
read up on MEND. This gave me enough knowledge of what MEND does and its prerogative before
meeting Lucy, who gave us her director’s insight. What came out of this was a glaring need to update
the web-site, a challenge which Taka’s “enfants” readily took up. The work plan that was devised for the
web-site was full of ideas, some practical, some not, and included the suggestion of a total re-
construction of the web-site (www.mendonline.org). Florence, who is good with computers, worked on
the technicalities like actually putting news updates and photos on the website, whilst others tried to
edit, change or write new content.

When our initial honeymoon period came to an end, and with Larissa (the third UK volunteer) working on
some dance-therapy workshops, I moved on to the MEND “Active Nonviolence Training Manual”. This is
an integral part of the MEND summer-camps, but the translation into English needed some serious re-
working. I was kept remarkably busy, as the new translation had to be good enough to send out for
funding, marketing and general information on MEND’s work.

Taka’s departure meant more work and also more responsibility for his “petits enfants”. I took over the
“No Borders” project which Taka had been working on with an Italian non-profit dance company called
Botega. The project, which is ongoing and I hope see out, is for a “moving picture” employing the
concept of the “wall” as a barrier dividing peoples and cultures. After a meeting with the film-maker and
Botega, the proposal was written up (in Italian and English). As it stands, the write-up is being checked by
Botega in Italy and we are drawing up a budget before applying for funding. Being able to work on a
project from start, and isha’allah, to finish has proved to be incredibly worthwhile insight. I hope to make
it to the launch of “Here & Now” in Ramallah in April 2009.

While working on the latter, Flo and I were aksed by Lucy to take a look at the “Curriculum Project”
evaluation. The project is a 3 year work-in-progress, which aims to introduce a new national curriculum
into the Palestinian secondary school system, with more emphasis on interactive learning and civic
education, two concepts that are unfortunately in short supply in Palestinian civil education. What
quickly became evident was how poorly translated the final evaluation was. Over the final few weeks of
our stay in Jerusalem, we worked our way through the 40-odd pages of evaluation; rewriting most of the
translation. Once this was done we had a meeting with Nabil Shibli, who coordinated the whole project,
to iron out any discontinuities between his work and ours. The final step was another meeting, this time
with Lucy, to finalise the write-ups and decide what the next step should be. Nabil is will now be
travelling to a conference on “peace education” in Nairobi, Kenya. He will be using the Evaluation in his
work, something that I feel very proud of.

Outside the office, we all remained anchored to the role of MEND volunteers. We travelled all around
the West Bank, most notably for the “Town Hall Style Discussion” in Tul Karem, for which I took down
minutes and wrote the report. The discussion was a great experience for me personally, and also for
MEND as an organisation, as it fostered dialogue about nonviolence, human rights and personal
development in Palestine. This was my second visit to Tul Karem, after going up to meet MENDers and
spending the day with them the week before. The ease of movement we found working for MEND – we
went to every major city in the West Bank – gave us an unusually personal insight into life in Palestine and
the people living there themselves. The situation here is particular and complicated but the direct
contact we got while working with MEND was invaluable in achieving a greater understanding the
conflict. I look forward to, insha’allah, my next visit to Palestine, and future work for MEND on the “Here &
Now” project.