Monday, March 23, 2009

One of those days, Tuwani-Style

People often ask me what a normal day is like here. Sometimes I get cheeky and respond, "no day in Tuwani is ever normal." But let me actually answer that question. Here's what today was like in Tuwani:

In the morning I got up at 7 am and walked out to a place that we call "the gate" with a delegation from CPT. We waited for the kids from Tuba and Magyer Al Abeed to arrive with the military escort (for those of you unfimilar with the details of the situation here, school kids need to walk past an illegal settlement and illegal settlement outpost to get to school and sometimes they're beaten up by settlers and thus require an Israeli military escort to get to school). I explained what our guests were seeing: the illegal (under international law) settlement of Ma'on, the illegal (under international and Israeli law) settlement outpost of Havot Ma'on, land stolen from a close friend and collegue in Tuwani, an orchard planted by the settlers and irrigated lavishly while Palestinians are suffering through a drought, and a field successfully plowed by Palestinians last year that was stolen again by settlers this year. A depressing description to be sure.

After the kids arrived I walked our guests back to Tuwani for breakfast and then ran home to eat something myself before another group arrived. I gave them a tour, introduced them to two community organizers from the village and helped them do some shopping at the women's co-operative. While I was searching for some change, I got a phone call from a shepherd saying "There are settlers out here. Why isn't someone from CPT here?" I assured them that there were two people there already and that someone else was coming out as well. I continued looking for change. Found some. Sat down. Relaxed for twenty minutes.

My teammate Sarah called one of the community organizers in the village so he could come down to our house and begin giving a second presenation, time time to the CPT delegation staying in the village (the group I spoke to at the gate this morning). While they were talking, school ended and the kids started to gather to go home. I hurried up to the gate again, called the army to ask them to come, and spend some time with the kids. The army came - mericifully quickly for a change. Kids left for home. I watched them until they were out of sight and then turned around to come home.

I climbed the hill up to a neighbors house to join the CPT delegation for a lovely lunch prepared for them by the women's co-op. Took a deep breath. Relaxed. When my cell phone started ringing, I pulled it out of my pocket and answered.

I learned from my teammates that the children encourntered settlers on their home from school, after they were out of my sight. Settlers had been grazing sheep near the path the kids take home from school. Even after my teammates had called the army asking them to accompany the children past the settlers, the army abandoned the kids leaving them to walk about a 1/3 of the designate military escort by themselves. The children had to take a detour and hurry home to avoid the settlers. My heart sank.

When I hung up my phone, another teammate told me she had a update about a situation that began unfolding yesterday when a young man from Tuwani, someone I was drinking tea with just the day before, was grazing his sheep in Khourba valley. Settlers arrived and called the army, claiming this young man had thrown stones at them. My teammates were present with video cameras and knew this wasn't true, but the young man was taken to Kiryta Araba police station any way. My teammates and a lawyer followed him. They were all premited to leave yesterday but asked to come back again today. As I was finishing my lunch, another teammate told me that the young man had been released and was back in the village. Everything was okay. It was nice to have good news.

I helped a few CPT delegated prepare for spending the night in smaller villages in the area and then walked home and collapsed on to our couch (it's a couple of mats, but is always the couch I apperciate most). Checked my email and decided to update this blog.

Tomorrow will be another full, not-normal normal day here. We'll help the kids get too and from school and I'll probably spend some time out with shepherds. But for rest of the night, I plan to rest until something rouses me.

And that's one day in the life of a Tuwani CPTer.

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