Palestinians Bring a Message of Hope to Bedford

By David W. Packer

House-of-Hope
Palestinian visitors Milad and Monar Vosgueritchi flank members of the First Parish Peace and Justice Committee – Courtesy image (c) 2016 all rights reserved

Two energetic young Palestinians shared their dreams, hopes and accomplishments in a recent program arranged by the First Parish Peace and Justice Committee. Milad and Manar Vosgueritchi live near Bethlehem in the West Bank, in territory occupied since 1967 by Israel and controlled by the Israeli Defense Force.  It is not an easy place to live with the occupation making even local travel difficult, with gunfire and tear gas in the streets at intervals too close for comfort, to say nothing of housing demolitions done as punishment by the Israeli occupiers.

The pair are Christians – Milad with his Armenian heritage, and his wife Monar is a Roman Catholic – who live and work with Muslims in an easy partnership.  Both have family only three miles away in Jerusalem, but where they cannot go because of travel restrictions, one of the severe limitations of the occupied area.  Both are university graduates, and they met while attending Bethlehem University.   Milad went on for a graduate degree in Lebanon.  Both speak excellent English.

VACA, or Vision Association for Culture and Arts

Milad and Monar were not in Bedford to complain, they visited at the start of a one-month trip in the US (their first time here) to let people know their dream: to continue operating the school for children which they have started, called VACA, or Vision Association for Culture and Arts, and to garner support for it. VACA is more than a school, it is a safe place for children in an area that is often not safe for Palestinians.  Milad said, “It is not easy to love your enemy, not easy to love your persecutor. We had a dream that we didn’t want to die as a slaves in our own country, we wanted to connect to the people by creating a safe place for children to dream, to play, to act, to dance, to sing.”

VACA provides a summer experience for a wide range of ages, and in the winter it is an after-school program and kindergarten.  Their own children are a boy of five and a girl of two.  The school is a two-floor building, nicely suited for the diverse activities. It has been partially financed by a grant from a Japanese source, which expires this year. So Milad and Monar’s mission in their first visit to the US is to secure funding and support which will enable expansion and continued availability of this safe haven.

To hear and have dialog with these courageous, committed, and brave young people was a truly inspiring experience.


Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-325-8606

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x