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Franciscan Friary,
St. Francis Str. 1,



Date: 28.2.2005
Source: Custody of the Holy Land

Bethlehem 27 February 2005

Dear friends,
Peace and all Good.
Yesterday something lovely happened in the youth house. When I was there, three girls came: two sisters and a friend. The youngest girl, 13 years old, is blind since her birth. It appeared that this girl wants to speak with many people; therefore she learns languages like English, French and German. She is on a special school, Talita Kumi, founded by Germany. The girl showed courage and started to talk with me. After a while her sister and her friend left her alone and she took a chair in order to sit down conveniently. We had a nice talk, in which she was very direct. I liked it. After some time her sister and her friend returned and took her with them.

Before this talk there was a man from the neighborhood, who wants to know who we are and what we are doing. There was some distrust. I was glad that two women received him, Asma and Rana. In this culture it is an advantage if people see that women play a leading role. That builds up trust. There are also signs of trust. Last week in the late afternoon there came two women from one family, two generations, to give the name of ten members of their family for activities. The youngest women showed only her eyes. The oldest woman wants to learn English. I was alone, but there was also a young man, Hashem, who helped me very well with noting the names and so on. Although he is only 16, he showed a good feeling for responsibility and spoke well with the women. I am glad with his presence and he likes to be in the centre.

Another activity will be on the 8th of March, world women day. Last Tuesday we tried to prepare something, but by misunderstanding from my side and absence of Asma because of the birth of a child at her brother it was not possible for her to come in time. Nevertheless we go on and will prepare on Wednesday what is necessary.

More and more it is necessary to coordinate the youth house well, because there will come many more activities like the Palestinian dance Dabke, chess, with which I already started to give lessons.

Meanwhile I have heard another problem inside the Palestinian society. More and more it happens, that a couple marries with only two witnesses. They don't go to the mosque or to the church. One judged this as a matter of sex, but I doubt it. It is of course a growing problem to marry without money because of the very bad economic situation. It means a growing pressure on couples who loves each other without perspective of a better life. A party can't be paid.

Meanwhile last Friday there was again a suicide attack in Tel Aviv. It is a bad sign, but it shows also, that for the people on the ground nothing has been changed. The building of the wall goes on. I saw it this week when I went to Jerusalem twice. Near Rachel's Tomb there is now the last phase of closing the wall.

Monday I went to Jerusalem for a talk with the director of the Pontifical Mission, Maher Turjman for the sake of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. We spoke about my paper titled Identity. The lack of Palestinian identity is a cause of domestic violence. The idea is to start with leading persons and to look for the source from with he or she lives.

We started on Friday with another teacher for English for the group of the 10th grade. I got the idea that this start was good. Meanwhile we have to stop to accept more students, because there is a lack of place. We can't manage twice 25 students at the same time. We could manage the last Friday, because there were two lessons less and Wisam was a good help.

An incident was last Monday when I returned from Jerusalem. I had asked Michael to come to the checkpoint and to bring me back home. When I was in the car he drove in the direction of the checkpoint to see what was going on there. He saw a brother of his brother-in-law and stepped out in order to speak with him. I waited and then I heard a bump and a second one. Later on I heard from Michael, that there came two soldiers making troubles with Michael because he had driven too far. For the first time I heard a Palestinian react against the soldiers. Michael was very strong in his speaking.

Greetings from Bethlehem, Louis

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