Crossing borders !
A Few Words About Us
The idea was born
By Bart Feenstra: Some years back I heard a Palestinian man talk about reconciliation and sharing the land. This was quite something different then what I was used to hear from people from the Middle East. I then remembered how my parents in the sixties were part of a program where 2 girls from Northern Ireland (protestant and catholic) stayed with our family for some weeks.
They could find out for themselves what the “other” side was like and to experience what
it was to live in a country that was at peace. The coin dropped with me: Would it not be terrific
to invite teenagers from the Middle East to a reconciliation camp in The Netherlands?
The first reconciliation youth camp took place in 2004 and was a succes.
You can see a documentary about this camp at the following link. In 2007 and 2012 other reconciliation youth camps took place.
European teenagers participation
In the next youth exchanges European teenagers were also included. Not only is it a very good learning experience for our participating EU youth to hear first-hand what living in the Middle East is like, but they also have a message to tell. The EU youth does not live in a conflict situation but they do live in multicultural and multiethnic environments. Tolerance and inclusion are often the key values brought in by these teenagers.
What do we aim for?
It is the time of your teenage years that you remember best later on in life. That is why it is so important that teens from the Middle East gain an understanding that on the other side of that wall are people just like themselves. They will remember this for the rest of their lives. During one of our camps an old man asked me what this group was about. I explained him that this was a youth exchange aimed at reconciliation in the Middle East. He then told me that ad a teenager in 1946, just after the second world war had ended and the hatred to the former oppressors was so tense, he was sent to a reconciliation youth camp in Germany to meet German teenagers. The friendships that were built during this camp still last.
How do we achieve this?
For 10 days the teenagers take part in a youth exchange in The Netherlands. They are doing many activities together in mixed teams of Israeli-Palestinian-EU teenagers. They take part in each other’s cultural activities (e.g. Shabbat celebration). They also listen to each other’s stories and some of these stories are heart breaking.
Tabitha-Ministries Belgium is a non-profit organization registered in Belgium. It consists of a board and members. All people involved donate their time and expertise for free. The activities of Tabitha Belgium are the raising of funds and the organization of the above mentioned reconciliation youth camps.
Tabitha-Ministries in The Netherlands
Tabitha-Ministries in The Netherlands is a Dutch registered organization that has supported the previous youth camps. They have a heart for reconciliation in the Middle East and are building bridges between people from a different background and religion. Personal contact is the first step toward mutual understanding and the possibility of friendship. For more information see the website of Tabitha-Ministries: http://www.tabitha-ministries.org/eng/index.html
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