One of the greatest things about volunteering is that you get to walk in someone else's shoes. That is exactly what happens with Green Olive Tours Volunteer Program – a time to walk in the shoes of someone else, to help them shoulder their burden and understand more of their world.
One of these worlds that volunteers enter is the Sidreh Womens' Weaving Collective in Lakiya, Israel. It is a Bedouin community located near Beersheva in the Negev Desert.
Sidreh is a non-profit organisation, and aims to contribute towards the empowerment, realization of rights, and improvement of the socio-economic status of Palestinian-Arab Bedouin women in the Negev. It does this primarily through its weaving, and in doing so, accomplishes its goals as well as connects women with women for encouragement and friendship.
A recent volunteer, Lucia, who is from Italy, spent 10 days at Sidreh. Lucia is an agricultural specialist. After she arrived in Sidreh, met the women there and toured the weaving center, Lucia and Sidreh collaborated on a plan of action for
Lucia's time there. They agreed that the primary project that Lucia would conduct would be to design, build and plant a large herb garden that would provide the women at the center with herbs and teas, and broaden their knowledge of organic agricultural methods.
Growing things in the Negev desert takes special care, the soil needs to be improved, making sure the selected area receives the right amount of sunlight for the crop, having an irrigation system in place, etc. The word 'coaxing' comes to mind, coaxing life out of dry desert soil.
The women were eager for Lucia's help and input, which she happily gave them. The end result was a beautiful, planted, irrigated garden that will soon be producing new and delicious teas and greenery for the women of the village.
All of the women in the center were watching the development of the project, and learning how to do a similar garden at their own homes. This the project has the potential to scale up and benefit many more people. It was a hands-on, real-life experience for Lucia. Lucy was hosted in the home of the director of the center. So she met the directors' family, children, friends, etc. They ate together, laughed together, worked together and dreamed together.
Some of the young Bedouin children took a real liking to Lucia and made sure she had anything she needed. It's hard to know when volunteering, who
receives more, the volunteer or the people that the volunteer is there to serve. In this case, they both received so much!
Bringing volunteers to isolated groups opens a window to the outside world for them. Children and adults who may never travel abroad are
delighted and mesmerised by stories of people who come from outside of their worlds to serve them. There is something refreshing in all of this, something incredibly human and encouraging, that in our world of today, we can stop some of the madness and touch people's lives.
So we invite you to consider being an ambassador of humanity and goodness and come to serve those with less. You can check out our different volunteer programs at this link. We would love to connect you with the world of those less fortunate in Israel and Palestine.
Angela is the Director of Volunteer Programs for Green Olive, and can be emailed at this link.
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