T.S. Eliot once said, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” His words apply to our work at Wi’am. Here, each cup of coffee represents the people who come through our doors with conflicts to be addressed. In that respect, we have started to measure our time through sips of coffee.
The Israeli-imposed closure of Jerusalem and restrictions on movement in the West Bank, including Jerusalem and Gaza, create enormous hardships in Palestinian society. The unemployment rate varies depending on the severity of the closure. With Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land to build settlements and to construct the infamous Wall, Palestinians have less and less land on which to live and work. More and more, people lack the means to meet the basic needs of their families, and thus the complicated situation feeds the cycle of violence on every level of society. As a result, we face a growing demand for the work of conflict transformation, mediation and reconciliation, and training in different fields such as human rights, democracy, negotiation, and cultural dialogue.
The work of Wi’am is on the ground, down to earth with people, as we address the urgent needs of Palestinians. As a staff, we work on Kairos time and not chronos, meaning we are available when we are needed rather than only on a schedule, and it is informed by our personal experiences, as we seek to live with dignity as human beings. We create hope in times of fear, extremism, anxiety, hopelessness, and helplessness. We try to equip our people with steadfastness, resilience and perseverance.
We are a grassroots organization: Approximately 30% of our expenses are covered by volunteers who offer hospitality in their homes, answer the phones in our office, and provide their own vehicles for our use. This communal, shared work is the essence of conflict transformation. It is the work of sharing ourselves, our resources, our minds, and our hearts with others.
“The ultimate weakness of evil is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate…. Returning violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Indeed, we love to live and celebrate life. We are like an olive tree, with its roots deeply rooted in the ground, and branches that reach out to the world. Our words produce more than sound: they walk tall to the four corners of earth. For some, the day-to-day activities are only part of the job, but here it is a commitment and a way of life to serve and enrich community relationships, to be an integral part of the future of justice and change.
- Zoughbi Alzoughbi, Founder and Director of Wi’am