Veteran volunteer in Hebron: “Why do I keep coming back?”

Posted on May 27, 2017

A friend asked me that question before I left for Palestine where I work with CPT in Hebron. I told her it was because, from the first time in 1997, the Palestinian people had stolen my heart. I love being in this place with its people, their culture, the hills and the villages.

After twenty years of coming here, I am now in my 80’s and have many memories – some things forgotten but reminded by friends. Last week, on my way back to our apartment in the souk from a day off in Jerusalem, I stopped to visit and have tea with a shopkeeper. On the wall is a picture of an old man. When I asked who he was, my friend said, “You know him. He is the old man who wears glasses.” When I replied that I didn’t remember him, I was told, “Well, he knows you because you helped him many times.” This was probably in reference to the years of the second intifada when there was curfew almost 24/7 in H2, Hebron’s old city. We went out daily and did night patrols doing what we could to help our Palestinians neighbors who live under Israel’s military occupation. Many times it could be going to the market for bread and other essentials or accompanying a sick person to the hospital. These runs were privileges that we were grateful to be able to do.

During six months in 2002, three of us lived in Beit Ummer, an agricultural village north of Hebron. Among our friends there, I became attached to a family who began calling me “Mum” and “Grandma”. There are now five children in the family – the oldest attends a university in Indiana where I live. Tomorrow I must go to say goodbye to them and to this place that I call my second home.

Inshallah, I will return again next year.

— Written by a CPT reservist.